Ever since Rachel announced the Progressive Faith Blog Con she’s planning along with a handful of other spiritually minded bloggers, I’ve been sitting with a question. What makes a Zen blog?

Although I don’t talk about Zen much here on Hoarded Ordinaries, if you click my “About” links, you’ll see I practice and teach Zen meditation. I sometimes blog Zennish oddities like my eclectic and oh-so-festive meditation altar, I blogged the passing of Zen Master Seung Sahn, and I occasionally talk about meditation retreats and visits to my Zen school’s head temple. One of these days, I want to resume posting to my currently inactive meditation blog, and I’ve already mentioned that one of my non-resolutions this year is to practice more, relying on the community of meditators at 100 Days to keep me motivated.

Partly cloudy ceiling

Despite these Zennish jots and tittles, though, I was surprised to discover that if you do a Technorati Blog Finder search for zen, Hoarded Ordinaries is listed as the third most authoritative site. Third? Considering all the practitioners who actively and explicitly talk about their meditation practices–bloggers such as John and Robert and Kimberly–it seems absurd to see humble HO as being a Zen authority. Even before the blogger-formerly-known-as-Andi ditched the raft, her laywoman’s blog was far more Zen-rich than mine…and now that she’s a postulant in a Buddhist nuns’ temple, Soen Joon’s new blog has more Zen in its first five posts than Hoarded Ordinaries has in two years of posts combined.

Shop wares

For good or ill, I have an odd resistance to talking much Zen here on my blog. It’s not that I’m hiding my practice, for evidence that I meditate is there for anyone wishing to look for it. But whereas many of the bloggers I read write blogs that focus on their Zen practice, I write a blog that looks at practice only tangentially. Just as I love taking blind pencam shots that look at the world askance, I prefer to talk about meditation by not talking about it.


Knowing that no words can truly describe what it’s like to meditate or what it’s like to be “in” the present moment, I choose to sidestep the discussion almost entirely. If you want to see my Zen, you won’t see it emblazoned boldly like the sign for a downtown Northampton restaurant. Instead, if you want to see my Zen, you’ll have to walk around with me a while, looking where I look and seeing what I see. Perhaps there’s a hint of Zen in the sleek lines and refreshing colors of a bright-lit shop display…or maybe not. But I suspect that wherever you look to find your Zen, you won’t see it looking back at you in any sort of bold, emblazoned fashion. Instead, you’ll probably see it lurking in a corner, quiet and almost forgotten until an open eye looks its way.


I guess I’ve always considered Zen and the enlightenment it presumably seeks as being an inherently now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t sort of proposition. If I were to point to something Intrinsically Zen here on my blog, that Zen would presumably disappear by the time you or any other reader happened to look that way, too. Instead of wasting words and pictures trying to show you my Zen, I’d prefer you found your own, thank you. There’s an ample supply of it out there, you see. And you don’t need a Technorati Blog Finder to point you toward it.

    There is indeed a Zen Center on Main Street in Northampton, MA, but I walked right by it. Instead, the sign that heads today’s post is from an Asian restaurant down the street that has a much more obvious sign.