Home Home About Zen Mama Contact

Thursday, January 3, 2013

What's In a Name?

At least a couple times a month, I get a comment or message suggesting that I know not what "Zen" really means, that this page isn't very "Zen," and that I should change the name.

As it comes up so often and I very rarely address it, I thought I'd give one pad answer here and let it stand.

I never set out to create a Buddhist page. I am not Buddhist. I am not religious at all, though I do have a great respect for other religions with which I am familiar and not familiar. I find them interesting, but not for me. Everyone seems to have their own definition of Zen. I believe some are coming from a place of strict religious definition. Some are coming from a place of emotion. I'm coming from the place of an English teacher. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, Zen "...asserts that enlightenment can be attained through meditation, self-contemplation, and intuition." Yup, I know what it means and I think that fits me and this page perfectly.

When I get the "Tsk, tsk...that's not very Zen" comment, it's generally because it's a strong post, a post on which I've taken a stand. Nothing is going to change...in either camp. I'm always going to post the tough stuff, because it's the stuff about which education is truly important. And others are always going to be miffed by that and try to get me to stop posting it by appealing to what they think will get at me most. It doesn't. It won't. It's OK. By posting those things, I'm attempting to get someone out there to reflect, to contemplate on their actions and beliefs, to listen to their intuition rather than all the other static they're hearing. Seems pretty "Zen" to me.

As for changing the name, nah. I don't want to. First of all, changing the name on four pages, a blog, bumper stickers, and logos would be a massive pain in the buns. Secondly, I see no reason to do such a thing. As is evidenced here, the page is completely "Zen." Does that mean I'm perfect? Nope. Does that mean I'm a Zen goddess? Not a chance. Does that mean that I won't ever have to get tough, direct, and stern? Negatato, Mr. Roboto. What it means is that I am a person who constantly contemplates and reflects upon my own beliefs, my own actions, and the beliefs and actions of those in the world around me. I am one who follows my intuition as a result of experience in not doing so in the past and noting the successes of doing so. Mine is a page that follows those principles, as well. Whatever else some wish it to be, that's cool. It's not. This is what it is. And you know what, I'm quite pleased with it. It's a work in progress, to be sure, but it's one of which I am proud.

Finally, Zen Parenting is named so because I am a Zen parent. I parent my son with patience, understanding, calm, and undying love, among other things. It is named such because that is the kind of parenting to which I subscribe - Zen Parenting.

This does not mean that I am inhuman. It's certainly not called Perfect Parenting. And it does not mean I have no limits. My patience for those on the page is pretty incredible, if I do say so myself, but there are limits. I do have higher standards for adults than I do children, thus I have a little less tolerance for nonsense with you all than I would with babes.


  1. Buddhists believe, foremost, in treating all other beings with love & respect. I have found your subject matters very much in-line with Buddhism, in that they promote treating babies, especially, with the respect and compassion they deserve, not harming them physically or emotionally etc.

  2. Well thank you, Sam. I do find the religion quite lovely, from what I know.

  3. People should also realize that Buddhism and ZEN Buddhism are very distinctly different secs of belief. My inlaws are Zen practitioners and I would count myself as more of a Buddhist than "Zen", based on the specifics of practice...but how I see it working here and applying to parenting is in the "letting go" and as you said, the intuitive piece.
    Thank you for this post!

  4. I am a practicing Zen Buddhist and most of the folks I know in that arena would not consider it a religion. It's more of a philosophy with some liturgy. Sometimes, Zen is tough, not sweet, kind and lovey dovey. It will pull the rug right out from underneath you. It aims to show you things as it is (sic). Compassion is the key and must be present even in the hardest lessons. It's know as "Grandmotherly kindness". It is swift and hard but compassion lies underneath. The final aim is to uncover the inherent wisdom and compassion that exists in all people.

    I breast fed both of my sons, one right after the other. I nursed while pregnant and double nursed for a little while. The older one self-weened. Both of my boys are uncircumcised and I was an attachment and co-sleeping parent. Now, they are older and have room for independence. I did vaccinate both of them and we took our time, years, in fact, just to get the newborn vaccinations. I have my own thoughts on the subject. They probably don't mesh with yours so, I'll keep them to myself. I appreciate your honesty.