Sally in the Zen

Confessions of a Befuddled Zen Buddhist

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

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Daddy Longlegs

Okay, so I found another daddy longlegs in my tub this morning.  Zen Master always tells me to leave these critters alone; just toss them outside.

My natural tendencies, besides screaming like a lunatic, are to smoosh and squash these things.  MUST SANITIZE.

But instead, I holler for Zen Master to come and get it so he can toss it out the window.

“Why are they always in my tub?”  I asked Zen Master when he came back from dumping the fella out the back.

“Because they’re thirsty.”

“Yeah, okay, then how come they always show up in my tub, and not yours?”

Zen Master grabbed his coffee cup and walked away.  “Maybe because you’re Spider-Woman?”

Yuck. 

I’m rather partial to Wonder Woman myself.

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Busted

Preface:  Zen Master and I both have a Toyota Rav4, which we use interchangeably on rare occasions.

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A speeding ticket just arrived in the mail.

Effective October 1, 2009, Maryland passed a law that authorized the use of a program called the Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) in Work Zones.  It essentially uses hidden cameras to catch speedsters in construction work zones on roadways. 

The “citation” had three photos showing: 

  1. The entire car.
  2. The rear of the car.
  3. A close-up of the license plate of the car.

The cost of the citation:  $40.00.

Posted speed limit in the construction zone:  50 mph.

Vehicle speed in the construction zone:  62 mph.

To put it mildly, Zen Master was quite unhappy with me. 

“How many times do I have to tell you that you shouldn’t speed?”  He glared at me, his bald head shining under the kitchen light.  “Forty dollars is not funny!  I’ve read in the newspaper that the fees could be at least a couple hundred dollars!”

We both stared at the photos on the citation. 

“And why were you on the highway when you should have been at work?  What were you doing?”

I couldn’t remember.  I actually checked my day planner and I saw nothing that would have taken me out of work at that date and time of the violation.  What the heck?

And then I noticed the color of the car.

“It’s not even my car!”  I said as I waved the citation at him.  “Zen Master, you need to slow down, you road demon.  Forty dollars is no joke!”

Nothing gets pass us.  Just so we’re clear.

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Trademark

Zen Master wears caps.  And he’s quick to point out that he’s not bald; he shaves his head regularly.  But he wears caps everywhere. 

During vacations.

During naps.

At my cousin’s wedding in Philadelphia.

At my brother’s wedding in New York.

Zen Master is just cool that way.

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Daily Inspiration

What are my two passions in life? 

Family and food. 

Zen Master and Zen Mum love to eat.  But me?  Let me start by saying…

I.  Heart. Food. 

I dream and drool over food.  I think and crave food.

If this is an actual habit that needs to be cured at a workshop called Helping Hand for Food Obsessers, I would go there only for the food. 

But I don’t really cook.

But that’s not the point here.

My passion for food, especially dessert, led me to discover a wonderful venue on the Web.

FOOD BLOGS.

Especially the ones with PICTURES. 

Like Orangette, my first and favorite food blog.  We found the recipe for Zen Master’s all-time favorite dessert here – the apple tart cake.

These are pretty cool too.  This one and this one.

Besides a large mug of bold coffee, I get up every morning for food blogs.

Yes, I know.  I live pretty simply.

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Hands in Motion

This is Zen Mum.

The quiet one.  

While she listens more than she speaks, her hands are always a’running. 

She’s a knitting and crocheting machine.

This is usually what happens.  One day it was her project, and the next, it became my bed spread.

 It’s pretty. 

 And this one, which she uses as her own bed cover.

 

 And these booties on my feet.   I came home one day and found them waiting on my bed.

Don’t mind my red shorts at the bottom of the picture.

And don’t even get me started on all the hats and scarves that she has stowed away in the closet.

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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. 

 

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Kenny

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.

Me

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…

Kenny

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.

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