Thank you, everyone, for such a fine evening Friday night and for a lovely retreat on Saturday. I was especially happy with the great sense of community we shared Friday night. What a nice discussion following Amongst White Clouds! Gassho (many deep bows) for your generosity of patience and financial support toward Joy Lane Healing Center. The inspiration of those monks' dedication and our sharing afterward made for an exhilarating support for my meditation practice the next day. I'm hoping to put something like this series together again, and I will be sure to let you know when it's in place. In the meantime, please join me for regular practice starting again this Saturday. The schedule is posted in the menu to the right.
Always a tricky question to answer simply, it may be best to remember that Zen is not an "is" so much as it is a "does". The word zen is actually Japanese rendering of the Chinese word chan, which in turn is a Chinese rendering of the Sanskrit dhyana. However you say it, Zen most directly means "meditate"; and in the Soto lineage of Zen, emphasis is placed upon the practice of sitting meditation above all else. It is viewed as the direct expression of enlightenment-- which our founder Dogen Zenji noted is not something one must attain, rather something to be directly expressed through the practice of zazen. In Soto, we face the wall as our ancestor Bodhidharma faced the wall of a cave. Our practice is supported by our posture: Erect spine, soft gaze, hands folded in the Zen mudra, legs solid, and breath continuous in an effortless effort.
What is Zen? The answer is one best experienced directly through one's own practice.