The Naked Buddhist
Every morning I meditate when I am at home in a special spot, special for me. On the wall I have photos of lotus flowers that I took in Vietnam as well as an image of Buddha that I found in Thailand. On the small altar are books, incense, a candle, a silk scarf and name card that were presented to me when I took refuge as a Buddhist. There are more things in my special space, a sacred space. When I meditate here, I do so completely nude. Even the glasses and the hearing aids are set aside. This is the authentic self, not my ego self, daring to cut through all the illusions we create with our minds.
Why am I a Buddhist? I don’t know the complete answer as I am still discovering what Buddhism is after my introduction to Buddhism forty-six years ago, about the same time as I discovered the healing power of naturism. I didn’t connect the two for a long, long time. It wasn’t until four years ago that I was pulled into sitting in a pool of sunshine, sitting naked and totally vulnerable. During one of my retreats in 2009, while in Mexico, I found myself searching for a secluded area and stripped off my clothing and meditated. It was the beginning of my present practice. However, it wasn’t until I was teaching at a university in China after having retired from teaching and school administration in Canada.
This photo was taken by my wife one day while I was meditating by the window in our apartment in China. She saw the sunlight and suddenly understood why I meditated nude. We had both begun formal meditation practice in 1973 based on the Transcendental Meditation model though we had tried meditation informally a year earlier. We kept our clothes on for meditation. Over the years since then, I have consistently turned to meditation when life got too difficult to handle.
With the decision to enter into a formal relationship with Buddhism, I took refuge two years ago. It didn’t matter that I had read about Buddhism, or meditated, or had my own little wooden effigy of Buddha in my home – the act of taking refuge took me to a different place, a place that I realise isn’t about Tibet, or Thailand, or even any particular school of Buddhism belief. I was discovering more and more about the bare facts of who I was. And that, is a journey that is still in progress.