our forms

Forms are the physical practices that support our spiritual work together.

The han

This is the wooden block that hangs near the entryway. It is a traditional Chinese way to call people to the meditation hall to sit. The three “rounds,” each ending in a “roll-down,” summon first the outer community, then the people living in the monastery, and finally announce that the teacher is coming to the meditation hall. By the second roll-down everyone should be in his or her seat. Take a look at the inscription when you get a chance.

Bowing

We bow on entering the meditation hall (zendo), and to and away from our meditation cushion. We do this to respect the space of silence; to acknowledge our own seat with appreciation and kindness; and to acknowledge that others are doing the same work of untangling suffering and clarifying the mind.

Wholehearted and full attention to each activity

The style of our practice is to give 100% attention to each activity as our-life-in-that-moment, including the person or object we’re relating with.

“Just sitting”

This is a formless meditation that may begin gradually after a few years of stabilizing the mind. It is held by the forms. Our style of sitting is an embodiment of awakening mind. We sit in faith that we are this awakened mind which we call Buddha.

Silence

Silence as the container for direct experience of mind and the manifestation of our true nature.

Slow walking as meditation (kinhin)

Walking is one of the four traditional postures of meditation. The others are sitting, standing, and lying down. Walking practice is a support for bringing meditative mind into the world.

Chanting

We chant with energy and union, losing the chattering mind in the sound. The words are sometimes studied, but when we are chanting we just do “sound practice,” the whole assembly as one voice. The main chants we do are:

  • The Heart Sutra is an ancient text, once esoteric. We chant and accept its wisdom and mystery.
  • The Merging of Difference and Unity (Sandokai) is a poem by our Chinese ancestor Sekito Kisen. It is about the relationship of the relative world and the ultimate world, which are ultimately the same.
Musician (doan) and kitchen roles as practice

We offer opportunities to practice in an environment that helps us remember to be mindful and present without judgment. We do these roles as another way to look at the body/mind.

The rakusu

This is a little Buddha robe worn after a person has taken vows to follow the bodhisattva precepts of our school. The precepts are compassionate practices based on non-harming and connectedness, necessary for people to live together in harmony, especially when studying emptiness teachings.