"The American Zen teacher Richard Baker has claimed that 'interdependence' is the most important principle in Buddhist practice. Actually he prefers his own term, 'inter-independence' which I agree does seem more complete, but at any rate, the implications of this basic understanding are far reaching. In my experience it explains how it is possible to change. Because everything arises, comes into existence, in dependence upon everything else that arises, bringing a certain composure to the small activities of life can produce a similar composure within a larger horizon of life. Bringing composure to the body is bringing composure to the mind. This word applies to meditation in the sense of ease and relaxation as well as composure in the sense of putting things together in a patterned, unique way.
Like the notes of a new tune, there are elements that comprise the composed meditating body. The body is held upright, that is to say aligned with gravity. The head also is held upright with the chin slightly tucked. The hands are held just so, eyes open, quiet face, following of breath. All of these elements and more produce an interlude of quiet and presence which is immediately recognized by almost every person as an important level of connection. The mind stays quiet as long as awareness is tethered to the motion of the breath.
This is a verifiable claim that anyone can experience for themselves. I dare to hope that every reader will take a moment, place an internal awareness onto breath and note what ensues. Discursive thought falls silent for a moment. Hopefully some will recognize that these moments of presence and quiet can be powerful supports, not only in a personal sense but also in the relationships that make up family, livelihood or that arise within community. Though momentary, a pause in the ceaseless internal narrative is typically experienced as a salutary relief.
Meditation is rather an extreme composition of body and mind. It aims at a form that is 100% intentional and steeped in harmlessness and openness. All of these are in fact reflected in Buddhist teachings and lessons but the most important thing that Buddhist meditation has taught me is that the Buddhism part is extra. Meditation has an a priori effect...which is to say that its field of effectiveness is similar no matter the religious structures in which our lives are embedded.
Even if a religious idea such as 'karmic neutrality' does not resonate, the stillness of mind and body will find a way to enhance the refuge offered by any faith, teacher or tradition."
Wayne Codling is a former Zen monastic and a lineage holder in the Soto Zen tradition. He teaches Zen style meditation in various venues around Victoria. Wayne’s talks and some writings can be found on his blog http://sotozenvictoria.wordpress.com
You can read more articles on our interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking, HERE