May 28, 2023
Michael Haggiag

15. Shame


Dylan has a terrifying experience on the meditation cushion.



Yesterday was the most embarrassing day of my life. I don’t care who knows it. Once you fall this low it doesn’t matter anymore. But it would be nice if just for a moment I could make someone out there know how it feels to be me: a turning sixteen- year- old no-hope dummy. So here goes. It’s our third meditation lesson with Jizo. Everyone is really into it. Helen, the pretty redhead, is sitting next to me looking like a marble statue from the British Museum. Then there’s Harriet with all her rings and bells and tattoos. And there’s Toshi who was probably a Zen master’s cat in his last life. Ok, that’s a joke. Jerry doesn’t have a problem either. Nobody moves. Just me.  I can’t sit still. My body won’t let me. It keeps shifting around, like there are ants crawling up my skin.

Jizo tells us to focus all our attention on our breath as it goes in and out of our nostrils. He wants us to count each breath slowly from one to ten, following the air out for as long as the breath lasts. As soon as a thought arises, we have to be aware of it and go back to one. Or Wunnnnnn…it doesn’t matter if we don’t make it to ten.

Harriet says: “ I don’t have any trouble counting to ten”.                                             

This makes Jizo laugh.  “Of course not. Counting is the easy bit, but try to count ten breaths without a thought arising. It doesn’t happen very often. You’ll see!”

Helen wants to know why it’s important not to have any thoughts. Jizo just looks at her. I have a feeling he’s waiting for the right words to come to him:

“Thoughts arise one after the other, whether you want them to or not. The important thing is not to let them carry you away.”                    

Everyone’s here because of me – because I was stupid enough to ask Jizo to tell us about meditation.  Now ten minutes into it, everyone is sitting like little Buddhas. Everyone except me. Jizo tells us to keep our eyes down but not shut. Otherwise, he says we’ll go off into dreamland. But that’s just where I want to be. In a far- away land of my dreams. Anywhere but right here, squirming around like a fish on a hook. I know everyone is laughing at me. I wonder if I should just get up and leave. I start to count: one, two… but it doesn’t help. I shut my eyes and pretend I’m in my bed, dreaming. 

Then it happens. The wolf. My dog Robbie is sleeping at the end of my bed when the wolf appears. He opens his mouth wide so that his fangs shine in the moonlight. He’s so real. He grabs hold of Robbie’s leg and tears him off the bed. Robbie is howling at me, wanting me to save him but I don’t. I can’t move. And suddenly I remember that it’s all true. This isn’t a dream. Robbie’s dead and I wasn’t able to save him. And I start to sob. I can’t help it. That’s when I open my eyes and see them all staring at me. Jerry has this smirk on his face. I don’t know what happens next. I’m running. I hear Jizo call my name, but I’m already flying down some stairs. It’s too late to turn back. I’m out of there. It’s over. 


You’re not “a dummy” and I’m not a marble statue. Your blog - it’s really cool. Please come back. I know Jizo wants to see you again.

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