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Buddhadharma : Fall 2012
66 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY FALL 2 0 1 2 swished crisply on the gleaming wood floor of the zendo. The stark austerity of Zen was attrac- tive to me because—though I could never have admitted it to myself—beneath my facade of rock and roll recklessness and my messy apartment I was, in a hundred tiny ways, a very fastidious teenager. You just had to know where to look. I spiked my hair each morning with near- obsessive attention to the symmetry of the spikes. If a friend stuck one of my Lou Reed or Iggy Pop albums in with The Clash and The Stranglers, my stomach would tighten until everybody was gone and I could put the album back in its proper geographical category. When I had sliced banana in my Cheerios, the eating had to be flawlessly modulated so that not a single bite of Cheerios would be left without its own banana slice. Plainly it was Zen for me. The only problem was that I felt I was in the wrong kind of Zen. I thought of myself as a wild rebel, and I longed to be in the fiery Rinzai school of Zen. In Rinzai Zen, you meditated fiercely on koans, unsolvable riddles designed to shatter hen I was seventeen, I would wake up at 4:30 in the morning and put on my ripped black jeans, drab olive T-shirt, blocky engi- neer boots, and black leather jacket bristling with punk rock safety pins. Then I’d stagger out of my cluttered studio apartment, get on my motorcy- cle, and ride through the dark, silent Minneapolis streets to the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center, where I’d sit like a statue in meditation until the morning sun poured through the windows and made blazing yellow rectangles on the hardwood floors. I’d been reading books on Eastern spirituality since I was thirteen, and by the time I was fifteen, I’d come to think of my life as a great quest for enlightenment. And Zen, with its elegance, rigor, and unflinching realism, seemed like the best way to get there. But without knowing it, I was also attracted to Zen for another reason: it was tidy. The priests at the Zen center wore clean, shiny, bald heads, and their immaculate black robes ILLUSTRATION STACY INNERST The Koan in the Refrigerator All he wanted was an egg. Instead Sam Guthrie got a close-up look at his compulsive need for order.