Last week I attended my third Heart of Zen meditation session. This session was the hardest session yet for me. On this day in particular I had a lot on my mind and was so busy with homework, it took a while to really clear my mind and get in the zone and focus. When I first started attending the meditation group I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I had no clue how hard it actually was. As I continue attending the sessions, some things are definitely easier. The familiarity of it is comforting and makes meditating easier to attempt. However so many things can disturb meditation such as stress, but even small things like a thought, an itch, a sneeze, or even just a glance can make focusing hard as well. As I continue these sessions even if I’m struggling through them, I’m practicing hard and it helps me to strive toward my goal of truly experiencing the Heat of Zen meditation.
The three readings this week ”Formula,” and “Old Walt,” by Langston Hughes, and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, in their own way all had a connecting underlying theme of looking in depth at the details embedded within initial appearances. I connected this theme with my third meditation session as well. Many people think that meditation is easy, but many do not see the practice and skill that it really takes to successfully experience meditation like the Zen master in our sessions does. Meditation may seem easy upon its initial appearance, but to do it continuously and really become successful at it is not the slightest bit easy. Another connection to my third meditation session I made, in relation to the underlying theme of the readings, was that so many people in the room seemed so calm and at peace. When I was there although I was very stressed out and struggling a bit that day, I took deep breaths and tried my hardest to let it all go. I know someone on the outside most likely wouldn’t have known I was stressed, which made me wonder what the other people in the room were feeling. Everyone’s appearance seemed fairly calm and steady, but looking back now after reflecting on the readings, I wonder if they were really calm and steady, or if that was just their initial appearances.
In the poem “Formula,” by Langston Hughes the speaker describes poetry and the beauty and creativity within it. The speaker reveals how although poetry can seem beautiful and positive giving the reader the blissful image of “Soaring thoughts And birds with wings,” when looking in depth, there can also be pains or negative aspects behind the poems. The speaker conveys the negative contexts within the poem saying, “That roses In manure grow,” and “That earthly pain is everywhere.” The speaker believes that these negative contexts should not affect the positive contexts and that the beauty within the poem should overpower the bad behind it. I believe that the bigger picture the speaker is conveying to his readers is that although the initial appearances of things can seem to be one thing, when one looks in depth and sees the details, it can be completely different than its initial appearance.
The poem “Old Walt,” by Langston Hughes also conveys an underlying theme of looking into the details of what’s right in front of you and what it appears to be. In the poem the speaker repeatedly says how Walt Whitman was finding, and seeking, constantly. As Walt was finding and seeking, he ended up seeking for more than he had found. This Conveys to the reader that although Walt kept searching for the answers to whatever it was that he was searching for, he never found them, or was never fulfilled. However although he continued seeking, the speaker explains that he was “Pleasured equally In seeking as in finding,” meaning that he was just as pleased searching for the answers, as he was in finding them. I believe what the speaker is conveying is that it’s important to look in depth at everything and not just judge it off of its appearance. It is important to pay attention to the details and look beyond the cover of things because you learn so much more that way. Walt went seeking and ended up finding less than he was searching for, however he paid attention to all of the details, and found that it was just as pleasurable to seek, as it is to find.
In the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley the main character, Victor, has created a monster that he can’t even stand to look at. As soon as the monster awakens Victor gets a sickening feeling and runs from his creation. As the novel continues Victor and the monster separate for a number of years, not knowing where the other is. Victor, upon hearing of his brother’s murder, returns to his family home and sees the monster one night in the distance. In astonishment Victor concludes that it must have been the monster who murdered his brother, and now the monster is going to continue to harm the rest of his family. After time passes Victor accuses himself for the murder of his brother because he had created the monster who he believes is the culprit, and sets out on a journey to the mountains. As Victor is enjoying the beauty on the snowy mountains he sees the monster and for the first time they converse. Victor is disgusted with the monster wanting nothing to do with him and threatens him. The monster however tells Victor that especially because Victor is his creator, he must hear his side of the story before trying to harm him. This novel also contains an underlying theme of looking in depth at the situation and the details embedded within the initial appearances of events. For quite some time Victor had been punishing himself thinking that he created the monster that murdered his brother. However Victor begins to look into the details of the situation, and for the first time hears the monsters side of the story.
The three readings “Formula,” “Old Walt,” by Langston Hughes, and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, as well as my third meditation session all connect to one another. Although the readings are different from each other as well as my meditation session, they all relate to the theme of looking in depth at the details embedded within initial appearances of events. The readings and my meditation session all show different accounts of how this theme can come into effect in different instances and situations. Although my third Heart of Zen session was more of a struggle than the rest have been, in a lot of ways it helped me the most. Even if it was hard practice, it was good practice, and with that I learn more about meditation and myself every time. Although initially people around me may think meditation appears easy, when one looks in depth they will see the practice and skill it takes to successfully meditate.