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Zen chaplain, Frank Liddy, shares his favourite things

By Staff Reporter

The 60-year-old, who lives in Belfast, is the first Zen chaplain at Belfast City Council. His role is to provide secular advice for the Lord Mayor, and he is also a mindfulness practitioner for Aware, the Northern Ireland based depression charity.

My best moment

Being made assistant to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and that happened on both of his visits to Belfast. I was just one of his assistants but it was a great honour as they wanted someone local to be on hand during his visit.

My best way to relax

My best way to relax is to have a daily meditative practice. When I’m not doing that I love to walk up Black Mountain with friends. My Zen name Genzan Zenan actually translates into Black Mountain.

My best advice

My Zen teacher told me that I had two lives. When I asked when I would get my second life he told me it was when I realised that I had only one. The idea is that only when you fully realise that you have one life is when you will live it to the full.

My best job

My professional background is working in community mental health which I did for 25 years. I first discovered Zen Buddhism in the Seventies and eventually the two things started to merge together. Now as well as my role as the Zen chaplain I also teach at a lot of mindfulness workshops around Belfast. It was a very organic process moving from one thing to the other.

My best gift

It was my father’s saxophone. After his death about seven years ago my family believed that it should be passed down to me. My dad was a great saxophone player and was very interested in eastern philosophies.

My best achievement

It has been planting the seed of Zen Buddhism in Ireland — apparently the Black Mountain Zen Centre is the biggest of its kind in Ireland and now Belfast has a Zen chaplain.

My best song

It’s a whole album — Van Morrison’s No Guru, No Method, No Teacher. It’s an album that captures the essence of being.

My best buy

A pair of RM Williams boots. I had wanted a pair for a long time and finally bought a pair around about the time of my dad’s death. When I got them and put them on it felt like I had become big enough to stand in my dad’s shoes.

My best film

Vanilla Sky. It ticks all the boxes for me. The storyline is spot on, it has a great soundtrack and it’s visually stunning

My best book

I like to read and I enjoy fiction but my favourite book is Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki (left). Everything you need to know or not know about Zen is captured perfectly in that book

  • Aware recently launched Northern Ireland’s first Mindfulness Day on November 10 and the charity aims to make it an annual event. Almost 1,000 people in workplaces, schools and community groups have taken its mindfulness courses. Contact www.aware-ni.org or tel 028 9035 7820 to find out more about courses in your area

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