Will Collum, 2

Interview with Will Collum

MP:

Regarding Buddhism, Christianity, etc. In moving out of Christianity and into Buddhism, you say that Buddhism seems simple by comparison, and yet not particularly easy or logical. And yet, as I understand it, what appeals to you is that it is testable and pragmatic. What I get from your response is that you appreciate the down-to-earth, present-moment "being" nature of Zen Buddhism in contrast to what Christianity offers, and that this is what you mean by "pragmatic". Is this the case? Also, what strikes you as not so easy and logical?

Will:

My wording was a touch awkward. What I meant to say was that Buddhism is conceptually simple and conceptually logical but demanding to put into practice. By practice, I mean the ongoing daily effort of rooting out attachments, those of desire or those of aversion, and the clearing up of delusions. Meditation is a very effective tool in aiding the effort by fostering inner awareness of emotional and mental state.

I can much more effectively find attachments and delusions in the silent stillness of meditation than I can in the noise of normal life. What makes the practice not so easy is the relentless nature of attachments and delusions. They manifest in life incessantly and so constant vigilance is required. As efforts to drop attachments and delusions are carried out I can observe how my life is affected by the effort.

This is what I mean by pragmatic- or just practical- and testable. In Christianity, by comparison, there are a lot of "God works in mysterious ways" situations which had me trying to leave my well-being to something or someone that I couldn't really experience and didn't really believe in. There are other aspects to it, but that's the main one.

Christianity, Buddhism - Inner Awareness

MP:

I enjoyed your statement that "meditation is a very effective tool in aiding the effort by fostering inner awareness". I don't believe there is any other practice that can accomplish this development of inner awareness the way that meditation can. For me, what inevitably comes up is pain (delusions, attachments), and what inevitably replaces it is awareness (self, stillness, and peace). I want to return to a question that came up earlier. You spoke previously of having found your "spiritual home". Can you tell me more of what you mean by "spiritual home"?

Will:

This may be difficult to put into words. When I began sitting, particularly the very first time, the feeling that I was left with afterward was very much like the feeling of arriving home again after a vacation. I sensed a release of tension. There was a sense of arrival- that the search was over- that I had found what I had been looking for. The feelings of conflict and doubt about my spiritual life that had dogged my Christian faith were replaced by feelings of contentment and clarity.

The feeling of being on the outside looking in, of "not getting it", that I was doing something wrong, or worse, that there was something wrong with me, this feeling that lurked in the background with Christianity, was replaced with "Finally, I'm not alone, there are others like me". I felt calm and serene, like I belonged. All these things added and still add up to feeling like "home".

Let me say, too, that this plays on a couple levels. Certainly the emotional and spiritual levels are very important here, but the intellectual level is, for me, critical as well. I finally had a way of approaching my spiritual life that was logical, that I could reconcile with experience and observation. My mind was no longer at war with itself. This too contributed to the feeling of "home".

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