Philosophical Society Visits Zen Center in Madison

Adison Karbon, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

This past Saturday, students in the Philosophical Society went to Madison to “extend our classroom learning experience.”

Philosophy teacher Chris Gray describes the Philosophical Society as a “co-curricular group that extends the IB Philosophy class.”

This group of devoted students went to the Zen Center where they were given an “introduction into the practice and philosophy of Zen Buddhism.” This included an overview of Buddhist meditation and key concepts in Buddhist philosophy.

While in the Zen Center, the students sat in the Zendo (where the teachings are held) and had a lecture from the Zen teacher followed by a “really rich question and answer session” where students were able to ask any questions they had as an extension from their classes.

Right now, the students are in a unit on Buddhist Philosophy. Mr. Gray believes it is important to study not only the Western world in Philosophy, but also the Eastern world in order to create “objectiveness” in the IB program.

Mr. Gray admits this was his favorite moment from the trip “without a doubt.” He loved listening to “the insightful and reflective questions that the students brought up and asked in the question and answer.”

The people at the Zen Center shared afterwards how impressed they were with the maturity and sophistication of their questions. “They were blown away,” said Mr. Gray.

After the lecture and questions, the students were invited to have tea at the center and then attended the Chinese Dim Sum restaurant for lunch.

Next they went to Paul’s Used Bookstore, making this trip a full day from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Senior Elizabeth Bolin said her favorite experience was meditating in the Zendo.

Personally, I needed a second to slow down, and this field trip gave me just that,” she said. “There’s something indescribable about sitting in silence with a bunch of people, or really just sitting in silence at all. I’ve never really forced myself to NOT think, and the experience was really cool.”

Bolin said she would definitely encourage others to go on this trip, but she would recommend making it overnight.

“We didn’t have enough time to go to the art museum, and I think that driving there and back was exhausting for everybody.”

After the overall success both this year and last, Mr. Gray hopes to make this an annual trip.