Everything "Zen"

February 19, 2003

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

On February 19, 2003 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette printed an editorial by Caroline Abels that stated, "the Buddha probably wouldn't drive an Infiniti Q45. And he probably wouldn't stay in the snazzy W Times Square hotel in New York, which boasts a sleek style the Buddha might dig but charges up to $459 a night. I also wonder whether he'd hang out with Jim Carrey. Or play the bass like Ray Brown. And would he consider cat litter an embodiment of the religion he inspired? I wonder about these things (smiling as widely as those ubiquitous little Buddha statues) because the Q45, the W Times Square, Jim Carrey, Ray Brown and cat litter have all been described in newspaper articles as 'Zen-like' -- similar to the sect of Buddhism that encourages mindfulness through silent meditation... 'There's a deep longing for peace in people's lives,' says the Rev. Kyoki Roberts, head priest of the Zen Center of Pittsburgh. 'So when they want to refer to that somehow, they're going to use the word Zen...' As a journalist who has often been frantic to come up with the right word on deadline, I don't blame writers for choosing a catchy Zen phrase that has widespread understanding. Maybe use of the word is helping to create acceptance of Zen and even spur some readers to try it for themselves... But as a Zen practitioner, I'd prefer it if the public weren't led to assume that this sect of Buddhism is breezy and fun, when in reality it can be the most difficult -- but inspiring -- work there is."