Five years after I refused to be ordained an elder in the Methodist Church, 1 scheduled a retreat at a Zen monastery in the Catskills. It would become an initiation of sorts. My intention was to receive serious instruction in Zen practice and to forge an official connection with a Buddhist master. I knew I would spend most of my time doing zazen meditation—just sitting, as Zen Buddhists say. I was not merely curious, nor was I studying ritual or engaging in professional research. My motives were urgently religious, not academic. My son had a terminal illness, and my wife Mary Jane and I were playing in separate playpens. I was consumed with what Buddhists call "monkey mind."