Maybe your New Year’s resolution was to do something good for yourself, something from which also your family, friends and colleagues might benefit – you decided to give it a try on meditation?
Very good! Let me recommend how to save some money (you can donate for charity, if you are in a spending mood): try Zazen, it is cheap and easy!
A few weeks ago I saw a film which made me think. A world-wide institution (apparently rather popular and quite wealthy) was presented, which offers introduction to meditation: seven hours for about 1200.- Euro. Higher levels and ranks can be acquired, but it might cost you (up to) a few million …
I do agree, the basics of sitting meditation (Zazen) can be learned quickly, actually in much less than seven hours. Continuing this praxis is easier after joining a group and finding a good teacher … you might be asked to contribute to the group’s rent for a room, and maybe your teacher’s expenses. Unless you are without a regular income, the required sum will not be a notable fraction of your monthly spendings … so let me recommend to save your 1200.- and look for a friendly Zazen group with a good teacher nearby, you’ll be surprised how cheap a change of your life actually can be!
Don’t let you discourage from dramatic stories about Japanese Zen monks’ education. These professionals go through (more or less) considerable hardship and pain, much of it designed specifically for young Japanese men who will later take over their father’s temple … most likely not what you are up for!
And don’t be bedazzled by a shiny spiritual leader (or the Zen-specific black robed grim ascetic master look-alike). What shines on the surface (and may it be a shaved head) might lack content, a teacher who fulfils the neophyte’s prejudice about how a real master should look like, talk and behave, is more likely than not a fake. Trust your intuition and life experience to check out carefully if what is being offered is actually doing good for you!
Two films I highly recommend to watch: the one about the aforementioned institution, and one about a fake guru: David Wants to fly and Kumare. And just in case you want to see a real Zen teacher in action, have a look at the short video about my former teacher I made a few years ago (this one is available for free on youtube).