Contemplations: Zen humility


About 8 years ago I put this stool together from scrap wood taken from the cabinet shop near where I lived in East Texas. It is my most prized possession for a couple reasons.

It bears me up while I bend my knees to sit in Zen style meditation. It is an on-my-knees listening device, listening being more important spiritually (and socially). The ego doesn’t like this so much — shutting up, bending the knees.

Zazen stool by Kannon McAfee

I left it in Texas in my sudden move to Oregon 5 years ago. Mom sent it to me this past winter. The same mother who taught me to sit quietly with my hands in my lap when I was a child. Now I do it willingly because I’ve learned it for my own reasons. There is little purpose in a life lived without disciplining the ego. I slipped from that the last few years and I’m glad I — the Real Me — is back in charge.

This simple piece I fashioned
to mark a discipline:
the humbling of the ego silently.
I sit and I’m inclined
to feel the penciled scrawl contact me
my little brother wrote in grief
upon this bench
the day I left for Oregon;
It fashioned for me
responsibility
to all my loved ones
and to humanity.
The prayer I’ve put upon it,
“make me a channel of blessing”
comes back from bottom up
which is where this soul begins
each time anew as human.

~ Kannon McAfee, 7 PM, 22 May 2014, St. Johns

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