Some people in the Buddhist world like to talk of “noble silence,” or, even, “Noble Silence.” Silence is neither noble nor ignoble; it's silence. If we try to make it more than it is, we make it less than it is, by imposing our small story on it, so that we experience not the silence, but our ideas about the silence.
Once in a saintly passion
I cried with desperate grief,
“O Lord, my heart is black with guile,
Of sinners I am chief.”
Then stooped my guardian angel
And whispered from behind,
“Vanity, my little man,
You're nothing of the kind.”
— James Thomson
Self-loathing is the same narcissism as self-adoration. Vanity prefers to be Satan than just another ordinary sinner. Contemplative practice is not about learning to love, or accept, ourself, but getting over ourself.
We are a small, independent, nondenominational Zen Buddhist sangha based in Glasgow, but practicing internationally, with members currently in Scotland, England, France, Italy, and various American states. Our practice is zazen, which means “sitting in meditation.” We think of our practice as “Zen for real life,” for people who don't have the leisure to go on lengthy retreats. Because of COVID-19, our meetings are currently online only, with the occasional outdoors meditation in Glasgow.
More than ten years ago, I realised I had never seen a good English translation of The Kannon Sutra, a.k.a. Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo, so I decided to attempt one that was both accurate and easy to chant. This is the result, Romaji followed by English. (Note: in our sangha, we still chant it in Japanese.)
Our weekly online sangha meetings have been going very well, with — thus far — people in Scotland, Cornwall, Italy, Croatia, France, and various American states doing zazen together. Our little group ranges from newcomers to people who're in their second decade of practicing together. It's been going so well, I think this ought to be the future, or at least a large part of the future, of Zen practice.