Sally in the Zen

Confessions of a Befuddled Zen Buddhist

To Resolve or Not to Resolve

This was the weather during the morning hours on Sunday, January 2, 2011.   I was looking through the pictures in my camera and just remembered why I took this photo.

Because it was a pretty gloomy start to a new year, I thought.

Okay, so I’m being a little melodramatic but hey, that’s really what I had thought at that moment.

I might be a little late, but I just started thinking about New Year’s resolutions.  Only because when I was watching TV, the newscaster asked, “So what are your New Year’s Resolution for 2011?”

To Resolve or Not to Resolve?

The answer is a no-brainer for me.

Because my answer is no.

I’m a Buddhist; I don’t believe in year-long resolutions. 

I believe in life-long resolutions.

Which I still have, since, you know, they’re life-long resolutions that I had made a long long time ago.

Simple things, really.

Such as:

  • To always move forward
  • To always remember from where I came
  • To always be the best that I can be
  • To become enlightened

Are life-long resolutions more stressful than having just annual resolutions?

I believe so.

Because that’s the point of having them.  To see if I can achieve them.

Because it’s all about the struggle, rather the finish line.

And that’s definitely something I want to see through, even if it takes a lifetime.

Technorati Tags: ,

Life Lessons

When people find out that I am Buddhist, their first question to me is inevitably the same.

“Aren’t you suppose to be bald?”

And my answer is usually the same.

“I need to make a living, so I need my hair.”

(Here’s a tip.  Not all Zen Buddhists are bald.)

I need to point out again that although I am Buddhist, I have had no formal training whatsoever in this religion/philosophy.  But with my Zen Master — my father — who is a lifelong Zen Buddhist himself, I am in very good hands.

It was almost eight years ago when I consciously began walking this path, this way of life and living.  According to Wikipedia, Zen Buddhism is “a form of Buddhism that lays special emphasis on meditation.” 

For Zen Master and myself, it also centers around Guan Yin.

Zen Master teaches by example and by wisdom, always emphasizing that life is precious. 

But I’ll be the first to admit that being a Zen Buddhist is hard.  It’s not just a religion or philosophy. 

It’s a state of being, and living.

It means that each and every day is a beginning as well as a progression to a better person than what I was yesterday.  It means that I face each day pondering cryptic Buddhist wisdom imparted by Zen Master, trying my best to make heads or tails of what he means. 

So begin my Introspections on Sally in the Zen.  These are my stories of life lessons with Zen Master.

Photo taken by my cousin's husband, HP

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Zen Master and Zen Mum

I have been an amateur Zen Buddhist for almost eight years now, with absolutely no formal training whatsoever.  It was on the eve of Chinese New Year when I had the epiphany.  I was in the kitchen with my folks when the light bulb lit up in my head.  Dad saw “it” and he knew what had happened.  Without me saying a word, he just knew.  And he became my Zen Master.

While Dad has always been Buddhist, Mom has always been Catholic but she can’t remember the last time she went to church.  Both were cooks in Mom & Pop shops for as long as I can remember, and they retired over three years ago.  Now they both work part-time in the cafeteria of public schools.

When friends and family hear that we all live under the same roof, it’s comforting to hear their support. 

“Oh my God, really?”

“Oh my goodness, you have such patience!”

“You are such a good daughter!”

“I wouldn’t be able to do it.  I need my space.”

“There goes your sex life.”

Originally from New York, we ultimately migrated and settled in Baltimore, Maryland.  Zen Master has never pushed his religion on me or my brother while we were growing up.  He was too busy bringing home the bacon in those days.  But I knew enough to understand that God is good and Heaven is the place to be. 

Zen Master doesn’t preach; he lectures.  He lectures about everything.  Taxes are too high.  Inflation stinks.  Common courtesy to everyone is forefront, especially to our elders.  Eating salmon without capers is just wrong. 

So by the time I had my epiphany, it was a foregone conclusion.  I think I’ve always been a Zen Buddhist but I never really thought much about it growing up. 

Now I pay attention. 


Technorati Tags: , , , ,


Yesterday Zen Master, Zen Mum and I went up to New York City for the day.  While we were visiting with family, I had the luck of running into my cousin, Kenny.  Some time back I had asked him for caricatures of us and I was able to finally get them from him.


I actually thought I was a bit more sexier than this, but obviously that was just a figment of my imagination.

Zen Mum, Me, and Zen Master

This is his little gem to my request for a family portrait.

And the artist for these cuties…


He prefers being behind the camera rather than in front, but he begrudgingly stood still when I asked him for his picture.

Sorry, ladies, he’s engaged. 

And speaking of engagement, I forgot to tell him that if I were to ever get married, I would be asking him to do my invitations.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,


Today Zen Master, Zen Mum and I went for an early morning walk, trying to get in our 2-mile daily quota of exercise before the humidity and heat moved in.  Baltimore was projected to reach 94 degrees.

We usually do a circuit around our neighborhood.  Five minutes into the walk, Zen Mum begins to drag her feet and sweats beads.  Ten minutes into the walk, Zen Master takes off his white T-shirt, clad only in his dark gray shorts that stop at the top of his knees.  I’m remembering the one instruction that’s stuck in my brain from my Tai Chi instructor:  breathe in the flower (INHALE), blow out the candle (EXHALE).

In the time we made the 2-mile circuit:

  • We waved and smiled at neighbors and passersby.  We asked one neighbor how his wife was doing because recently she had foot surgery and hasn’t been seen since.  She’s fine.
  • A Raimondi florist delivery truck stopped by a townhouse to drop off a basket of beautiful flowers.  Hopefully they’re celebrating a happy occasion.
  •  We observed a dead locus lying on its back on the sidewalk.  Eww.
  •  I saw a car slow down to chuck a pair of used socks out the window before driving away.  What’s up with that?
  •  We passed a couple of cul-de-sacs hosting yard sales.
  •  I observed a rolly-polly on the sidewalk.  I don’t know the technical name for this centipede or caterpillar thing but I know that if you poked it, it would curl its body into a tight ball and roll away.

At our half-way mark, we saw a man on the street, approaching us from the opposite direction.  He was an older gentleman with short snowy white hair, wearing a white t-shirt and gray sweat pants.  On his feet were black roller blades, and he was striding toward us.  He was fluid in his movements, graceful in motion and steps.  We watched as he made the left turn at the stop sign, he passing us without so much as a sound from him or his roller blades.  The man glided in that turn, no movements wasted – he just flowed. 

Until he hit the slight incline in the middle of that street.  We watched as he crouched a bit and put more effort into the climb, showing grit and determination to get to the top.  It was either that or just topple over on the street or worse yet, slide backwards down the way he came.  Uh oh.

But he conquered that incline.  We watched as he reached the end of that street and glided out of sight without a backward glance.

That’s what I want to be when I grow up. 

Fluid.  Graceful.  Gritty.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Hello there!

I’m a 39 years old single non-bald Zen Buddhist, a neophyte with absolutely no formal training whatsoever.  I am a student in everything and a master in absolutely nothing.  Just so we’re clear.

I’m pretty self-sufficient and independent, if you overlook the fact that I never really left home.  You can’t really count college when I lived on campus because as soon as I graduated, I moved back home and stayed.  Home is Baltimore, Maryland.

I’m also a cynic.  Sprinkle that with a good dose of ADHD (self-diagnosed). 

My true role model is my Zen Master, who happens to be my father.  He adores fruit smoothies, apple tart cakes, cruises, and is a firm believer in teaching by example.  He’s also a cantankerous old man who engages in snark-fests with me, his method of teaching me by example. 

He’s absolutely everything that I am striving to become.  Minus the old man part.

Mom – AKA ZEN MUM – is actually Catholic but she can’t recall the last time she’s been to church.  She’s usually the quiet one between the three of us, but you always have to watch out for the quiet ones.

I don’t think that my being a cynic is the way to go.  The end game for a true Zen Buddhist is to achieve “enlightenment,” the ultimate Nirvana – the moment that a person actually goes “oooohhh.”  The AH-HA moment of truth.

It’s safe to say that I’m not even close. 

Zen Master reminds me of the quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Life is a journey, not a destination.” 

But really, just for argument’s sake, if I don’t ever reach my AH-HA moment, technically I’m still a neophyte, right? 

Thought so.

This is my personal blog with my own thoughts and quirks, and with absolutely nothing to do with my employer. 

Actually, it’s just a family blog with the usual suspects:  Zen Master, Zen Mum and me. 

Really, it’s about me trying to make sense of it all.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,