Zen Meditation and Catholic Contemplation

Having poured out my story to Fr. John, he sat back in his chair, straightened his black Trappist scapular ( he did this habitually when he was about to say something important), and said, “Well, that is an interesting story. We have many monks who try Zen meditation and find themselves having emotional difficulties with it.”

It wasn’t really what I wanted to hear; a shimmer of shame rolled through me, thinking that I had gone down a road that was not good for me.

“But there are similarities between Buddhism and Catholic contemplation and there are many differences. In Buddhism, you go into the emptiness to find nirvana. In contemplation you go into the emptiness to meet someone.”

I felt a pulse of relief hearing him talk about contemplation and Zen meditation, and a sense of consolation when he mentioned meeting “someone” in contemplation. It pointed to an alternative practice between Zen and Catholic contemplation; though at this point my trust in both Fr. John and Catholicism was, at most, a desperate one at best.

The fact that I had not really chosen to leave Dr. Kim, my Zen practice, and Canmore, meant that I was cast out to sea with no sight of shore. That there was a commonality between Zen practice and Catholicism, one I was not at all certain existed, gave me hope. At this point in our talking, I really had no trust in his knowledge of the interior life. There was no one who could easily replace Dr. Kim.

Categories Blog Post | Tags: , , , , , | Posted on January 7, 2018

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