Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Zen and Jesuit Ideals

Zen meditation is a practice that emphasizes proper posture and sitting along with the clearing of the mind. In the clearing of the mind you are to release yourself from all thoughts, feelings, and desires. The benefits of this practice are seen when you allow yourself to think again. After the practice you are much more calm and your thoughts slow down in that you think before speaking. In addition the practice is also meant to help you to understand the world around you and your place in it.
In Directions for Resisting The SAT by Richard Hague it is stated that the listeners should not believe in October and May and not observe gravity, commas, or history. This along with his statement that you should blame all of our successes on luck tell us that he believes that academics mean nothing and that our successes are nothing to be proud of. Some of his final lines are “Desire to live whole,” “listen to no one.” and “Make your marks on everything.” In these lines Hague is telling us that it is more joyful even successful to live life to the fullest than to search for a false sense of happiness in success when it comes from some thing that you do not enjoy. The last line, “make your marks on everything”, having already talked of academics is telling us to make our marks on those around us. It is telling us to be kind to others, lead by example, and aid those in need. Jesuits hold knowledge in high regard and their values do not contradict this poem as it might appear because it is the good willed application of knowledge that the Jesuits value even more than the knowledge itself. The Jesuits also believe in providing aid to all in need when possible just like one of the poem's main points. These values can also be found in Zen meditation where one goal of the practice is improvement in interpersonal relations.
In the poem First Practice by Gary Gildner there are two major points, to focus yourself to the task at hand and to not give up. In the poem the coach says that it is a dog eat dog world implying that you can not give up because if you do you will be easily replaced and forgotten. At one point the team is lined up to face each other and told that the person across from them is the person they hate most and standing in the way of their goals. This is done to focus their attention on what they want. Jesuits to not believe in giving up on their cause and when faced with a hardship will rise to meet the challenge. One of Zen meditation's major goals is to allow for a mind clear of worry which in turn allows for a much greater focus on a persons goals and what needs to be done.
In the story Thank You M'am by Langston Hughes a boy tries to steal a woman's purse who then takes him back to her home to be punished. The woman knowing that if the boy is trying to steal that he probably has already had confrontations with ordinary disciplinary measures, that have just not worked, decides to take a creative approach to trying to stop the boy from acting in such a way. The woman tells the boy to wash his face and then cooks the boy a meal and gives him ten dollars for what he wanted the purse for. In Zen meditation the clearing of the mind is supposed to aid in creativity and problem-solving like the poem in telling us to practice. The woman in the poem is performing the equivalent of turning the other cheek after the boy tries to steal her purse and in stead show him kindness and tries to give him a lesson before allowing him to leave with what he was seeking in the first place. Many Christians have the ideal that if sinned against they should forgive and turn the other cheek just as the woman does in the story.
The applications of the benefits of Zen meditation can be seen almost everywhere we look for them. These benefits often support the ideals of Jesuits These ideals are seen in the poems that we have read and in the short story by Langston Hughes. These include the value of helping others, creativity, and the ability to turn the other cheek.

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