We use the word practice
to refer to meditation
and meditative activity
To practice Zen is, first, to meditate – we practice sitting and walking meditation. The main practice times are in the morning and afternoon during the week. On Sunday, our main community day, we start with the practice of Morning Service. This is followed by meditation, then work practice, (also known as soji in Japanese), which involves mindful cleaning and straightening in the Meditation Hall (zendo) and the Center’s grounds. Then there is a dharma talk. The word dharma means in this case Zen teachings, or the teachings of Buddha. It could be translated as Zen sermon. You are welcome to attend some or all of the Sunday program. When you arrive, you may ask for the Ino, the head of the meditation hall, who will assist you, or you can explore on your own.
History of Zen
The word Zen refers to meditation itself. Its meaning has grown and now extends to include the way of life of a person who practices meditation and mindful living. Meditation is the central practice of the Zen school as it has been transmitted teacher–to–student through the centuries. It can be practiced while sitting on a cushion or in a chair. It can be practiced while standing, or while walking mindfully. Once it is experienced, it can be carried into daily activity and expressed in the way you move, speak, work, play — in all interactions.
The origin of Buddhism
The historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, lived in India from roughly 566 to 486 BCE. Emphasizing liberation from delusion, the Buddha (which means Awakened One) taught various techniques to recognize and come to terms with obscurations. He emphasized meditation as the essence of practice. The central insight of the Buddha’s enlightenment experience was a deep understanding of no–separation. According to the traditional Zen texts, the Buddha, on the morning of his great awakening, said “I, together with all beings and the great earth, simultaneously achieve the Way.” Buddha’s awakening then, is your awakening, our awakening. Zen practice is concerned with freely expressing that awakening in all our daily activities, here and now, moment after moment.
One-Day Sittings, Week-End Sittings, 5 and 7-Day Sesshin
The next sesshin is a 7-day sesshin beginning Monday December 2, and concluding Sunday December 8. Sesshin means to "gather the mind", and is a traditional Zen practice. The December sesshin is also called Rohatsu Sesshin. Zen practitioners around the world sit during the first week of December. It marks the Enlightenment of Shakyamuni Buddha. More information can be found here.
Zen sesshin include periods of sitting and walking meditation as well as silent meals, practice discussions, dharma talks and rest periods.