Exceprt from "Susan Blackmore on Zen Consciousness," To The Best of Our Knowledge, December 9, 2012:
Steve Paulson: I want to take you back to your Zen practice, and one thing I find curious is when I was reading how you describe it, you say you actually are not a Buddhist yourself. You practice Zen, but you don't call yourself a Buddhist. Why did Zen hit home for you so profoundly?
Susan Blackmore: Well, go back to the 1970s. And imagine me in the end of the hippy era, in all my flowing skirts, and my "far out, man," and listening to The Greatful Dead, and Pink Floyd, and taking interesting drugs, and all of that stuff. And I had an extraordinary out of the body experience, and I was really obsessed with trying to understand the mind.
I was studying physiology and psychology at Oxford, and that wasn't giving me — I mean, it was wonderful, I enjoyed it — but it wasn't giving me answers on those kinds of things.
I went searching. I trained as a witch and I learned to read tarot cards. I did all kinds of stuff, and I became a parapsychologist and looked for paranormal phenomena and never found any. One of the things in that whole mishmash of stuff, is that I came across a Zen group and started practicing meditation. All the other things gradually fell by the wayside — through my research as well as through my ordinary life. The Zen practice was the only thing that survived. And I found it enormously helpful, not just in the kind of intellectual way we are talking about now, but in the whole way of living my life.
But the really important thing for me is that when I write about Zen and about meditation and about what I have found, I want people to be clear that I'm not saying this is what the Buddha said or this is what Buddhism says. I'm saying, this is what I think I found through practice that I've been helped through Zen to learn.
See also: "Higher Consciousness," To The Best of Our Knowledge, December 9, 2012