Zen priest joins Dizang-Qi Buddhism Club meeting

John Kruse

Where most students spent their Saturday afternoon sleeping or doing homework, another group silently sat in a circle in a small room on the third floor of Memorial Union to meditate.

“Whatever thoughts you have, let them come and let them go, like clouds in the sky,” said Rev. Daishin McCabe, a local Buddhist Zen priest, as he led the meditation.

Every Saturday afternoon, the Dizang-Qi Buddhism Club meets to perform yoga procedures, meditate and discuss important aspects of life and how to apply Buddhist teachings. Saturday, the club welcomed McCabe as its special guest to lead the group meeting Feb. 28. 

“I think it’s good we have an actual teacher in person to lead us,” said Hui Feng, assistant professor of marketing.

McCabe moved to Ames in august after spending 15 years at Mount Equity Zendo Compassionate Teachings Temple in Pennsylvania, training as a Soto Zen priest. Upon arriving, McCabe reached out to the Dizang-Qi Buddhism Club and asked if he could lead a group meeting.

“I think it’s good for students to connect with something bigger than themselves,” McCabe said.

The meeting started with a meditation ceremony, which consisted of both sitting and walking meditation. Later, McCabe lead a discussion on the nature of accepting the loss of things people love and the acceptance of things people dislike.

“Flowers fall even though we love them,” McCabe said, quoting ancient Buddhist teacher Dōgen. “Weeds grow even though we dislike them.”

Throughout the meeting, discussion and sharing was encouraged of all attendees. Connor Bright, senior in psychology and the club’s president, shared his experience of how Buddhism helped him conquer his depression.

“When I started practicing Buddhism, I quickly grew out of my depression,” Bright said. “It’s coming to the world with happiness and not expecting it to come from somewhere.”

One of the motifs of the meeting focused on suffering. The foundation of Buddhism focuses of what is called The Four Noble Truths. The first truth, the truth of suffering, expresses that throughout the world, there is suffering and this is a part of life. One of Buddhists’ main goals is to understand and cope with the suffering they will go through in life.

“Buddhism doesn’t have to contradict with anyone’s religious beliefs,” Bright said. “It’s really just about helping people with their suffering.”

McCabe also shared his introduction to Buddhism. While studying religion and biology at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, McCabe found himself questioning many aspects of his life. He soon found an affection for the teachings of Buddhism and how the religion focuses on the connection of all things with each other.

“Since I studied biology, I was very concerned about climate change and I wondered then what could I do that has any kind of effect on climate,” McCabe said. “My teacher said that in order for anything to change, our mind also needs to change.”

At the meeting’s conclusion, the group shared a prayer wishing for the happiness of everyone in the world. Several then gathered around to continue to talk as others left.

“I always feel better after our discussions,” Feng said.