Zazen: Zen Meditation
The heart of Zen training is zazen. Without zazen there is no Zen, no realization, and no application of the practice.
- Robert Aitken Roshi
With the ordering and immobilizing of feet, legs, hands, arms, trunk, and head in the traditional lotus posture, with the regulating of the breath, the methodical stilling of the thoughts and unification of the mind through special concentration, with the development of control over the emotions and strengthening of the will, and with the cultivation of a profound silence in the deepest recesses of the mind in other words, through the practice of zazen there are established the optimum preconditions for looking into the heart-mind and discovering there the true nature of existence.
- Philip Kapleau Roshi
Zazen, or Zen meditation, is the heart of Zen Buddhist practice. For Zen Buddhists, zazen expresses the fullness of the enlightened mind of the Buddha. In zazen, we let go of all of our thoughts, feelings, and concepts, and through this practice can experience directly the essential nature of the universe and ourselves. This realization naturally finds its expression through compassionate action in the world, and brings benefit to all beings.
The Lotus in the Flame Temple maintains a regular schedule of zazen two evenings and three mornings per week with Teisho on most Sunday mornings. These are all open to the public, but those who are coming to their first sitting must come to a scheduled evening for instruction (one Tuesday and one Thursday per month). Regular evening zazen takes place on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 7- 8:45 p.m. Morning zazen takes place Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings from 6-7:10 a.m. Occasionally, the center is closed for holidays or retreats, so please check the calendar before coming.
People take an interest in meditation and Zen practice for a variety of reasons. Some people practice for health benefits; some for blissful or visionary states; some are looking for enlightenment- their own or for all beings; and some, having profound faith, practice zazen just for its own sake. There are certainly other reasons a person may wish to meditate, and they may find that their reasons for practicing zazen have several underlying motivations. Also, one might start one way and over time find that one´s attitudes and goals for practice have changed. Whatever it is that brings a person to the zendo(meditation hall), the most important thing is to practice sincerely and wholeheartedly. As long as a person maintains the standard forms and etiquette within the zendo, and is respectful of the temple, teacher, and other practitioners, they are welcome to practice with us.
Those attending a sitting should wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing of a subdued color. Please do not wear shorts, short skirts, revealing clothing, or strong scents. Cell phones and beepers should be turned off, or set to vibrate mode. Please respect our temple space by refraining from loud conversation, smoking, or bringing in food and drinks. People under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be asked to leave. Currently, childcare is not provided, so please make arrangements for children. We recommend that people read the instructions for zazen and zendo etiquette pages before coming.