I just finished reading A Sense of Something Greater: Zen and the Search for Balance in Silicon Valley and the author, Les Kaye, took me on a tour of the Kannon Do Zen Meditation Center in Mountain View.
His book was just released this week. A Sense of Something Greater goes deeper than the current mindfulness trend, into the heart of Zen practice. For Les Kaye, Zen is a window to our inherent wisdom and to a dimension beyond material progress. Kaye’s teachings are paired with interviews of Zen practitioners who live and work in Silicon Valley, conducted by journalist Teresa Bouza, that emphasize the relevance of Zen practice to the challenges of twenty-first century life.
I’ve already highlighted areas in the book that really connected with me and I felt like I knew so much more about the Kannon Do Zen Meditation Center because the book is about people who attend and are experienced practioners of Zen.
In his 1996 book, Zen at Work, Les illustrates his vision of how Zen practice can be expressed, not only in the workplace but in any activity of daily life. Twenty-two years ago, it was a radical concept for the western world where spirituality – religion - is thought to be an activity apart from everyday concerns, reserved for specific times and holidays. Since then, the idea has gradually gained acceptance, as individuals in the twenty first century are increasingly asking, “How can I express my spirituality and my practice in daily life?” This is the theme explored by A Sense of Something Greater.
The mindfulness movement of the past decade can bring relief to emotional and physical concerns conditioned by the anxieties of daily life. However, the stress-reduction mindfulness practiced in workplace classrooms, hospitals, gyms, or at home is much like a technique used to address a problem or a medicine to relieve a headache or stomach upset. When the discomfort is gone, the technique is set aside, the medicine stored away. By contrast, the spiritually-oriented meditation of Zen practice is holistic, universal in scope, accompanied by a commitment - inspired by a sense of morality - on the part of the practitioner. As the cover of the book explains:
A Sense of Something Greater goes deeper than the current mindfulness trend, into the heart of Zen practice. For Les Kaye, Zen is more than awareness—it’s also “the continued determination to be authentic in relationships, to create meaningful, intimate, intentional bonds with people, things, and the environment.”
I’m so over hearing people glamorize how “busy” they are. The Kannon Do Zen Mediation Center, along with A Sense of Something Greater seem like a wonderful place to start for anyone who also feels that way. I wanted to help spread the message. There is a ton of information on the Kannon Do website, everything from getting started, to retreats and events (for the beginner too), FAQs, and a beautiful intro video.
Zen is not something to get excited about. Just continue in your calm, ordinary practice and your character will be built up. — Suzuki Roshi
Maybe I’ll see you at Kannon Do. I love Mountain View.