The ZA-ZEN – A Short Story

Though we call it a monastery, this is a meditation room. We learn the same things the samurai did. We could be called warriors in a way. But what kind of a warrior misses 3 years of exercise?

Step in, bow down, walk slowly to one cushion. New room, old rules. The sensei hits that tiny gong when everyone’s in position. The satisfying sound flies around the place. Then he rings a bell and hit two sticks together. The meditation begins. From this point, no moves, no thoughts are allowed. This is what ZA-ZEN is about. You either close your eyes or keep them open. Twenty minutes of peace shall land on your soul. I close my eyes because I can’t keep looking at the same atom.

Five minutes in, I feel something tickling my skin. What’s that? A spider?! No, it could be something else. Two spiders for example. I try to stop guessing. No thoughts are allowed. No movements either. Only breathing. Deeply… What if that thing crawls up to my nose and I suck it up next to my brain? “Enough thinking,” I tell my brain.

Time in here stops. Nobody moves, nobody speaks. Tiny candles lighten the room. It’s like a different dimension. There is a busy world out there. People move without a stop. Here, there is peace. The air we breathe, the sound of the gongs, the silence all turn us cats into lions. “You worked hard, time for a short break,” we hear this in our heads.

If you do something wrong during this meditation, the sensei will act with a small punch on your shoulder. In addition to that everyone accepts the fact we must relax. How unfortunate. There is only one person who doesn’t feel relaxed. Whose mind goes so crazy you can almost hear it.

The unbearable tickling doesn’t stop. I must do something before it threatens my life. But the sensei shouldn’t notice that. It’s clearly not a spider. Those have got more legs. I feel only four. What small creature has got only 4 legs? A horse. A very tiny one. A new species maybe, how wonderful!

I’ve learnt about spiders. There is one, the Argiope bruennichi, wasp spider. This little yellow-black alien has its legs connected so it looks like… Feels like it has got only four of them. Looks so silly you would get a bunch of “wow” reactions on Facebook if you took a photo of it. No, wasp spiders are big, it can’t be that.

Somebody is touching my shoulders. The right side goes cold all of the sudden. “Put it back please,” I ask politely in my mind. But I shouldn’t do that. My right shoulder takes a huge hit, but I don’t feel any pain. I broke the rules, he had to warn me. He releases my shoulders, but I can’t hear any movements. Maybe he can fly. After fifty years of mastering true karate in Japan, I wouldn’t be surprised if he could.

Loud noise begins. The small bells signify the sign; the meditation is over. I bend forward to reach out my legs. It hurts like hell. I feel like my feet are frozen. Actually, I can’t feel them at all. I keep my eyes shut while standing up because I don’t want to face the creature that almost killed me. We walk in circles. The place is still as beautiful as it was at the beginning. We leave one by one. Same actions as when we enter. Walk to entrance, bow down, move on. Goodnight, sensei.

We’re outside. It’s the Moon that lights up the village. We hear cicadas, the waterfalls. The nature has become visible to the ear. We feel joy and happiness everywhere. It’s strange but good as well. I always loved this meditation. We walk home in silence. Suddenly, something starts tickling on my wrist. A lovely Argiope bruennichi.

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