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  • Writer's pictureLama Jigme Gyatso

Zen, the Full Lotus Posture, and Elitism

Like the Cordyceps infiltrating hosts on HBO’s “The Last of Us,” Zen has been infiltrated by folks who are rigid, fearful, controlling, elitist, and competitive. These are the people who insist that Zen is only for those who have the health to sit in the full lotus position. However, in the Buddha’s three meditation manuals sitting cross legged is mentioned only in passing. In the most ancient of statuary, the Buddha is depicted as sitting in (what some call) the quarter lotus position: the relatively easy pose, wherein one’s right shin rests upon one’s left, in a manner distinctly parallel.

The erroneous teaching that one cannot hope to practice the Buddha’s teachings unless one has mastered the lotus position is egregiously elitist, exclusionary, and cruel. In the “Sutta for the Sick and the Dying,” the protagonist is led through guided meditation as he lay dying on his bed. In the “Satipatthana Sutta” one reads of meditating while walking, standing, sitting, and lying down.

Bodhidharma is credited with bringing Dhyana Buddhism into China where it became known as Ch’an; and which (when brought to Japan) became known as Zen. In his writings there is NO such demand that the student sit only in the full lotus position.

Find a teacher who is mentally: flexible, loving, laid-back, egalitarian, cooperative, and who has the wisdom and compassion to teach all who come to him or her, regardless of their health, or flexibility. In a short period of time, you too could meditate like a Jedi. _/\_

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