The Cedar Rapids Zen Center, and its community of peaceful members, stand in solidarity with the brave and sturdy citizens of Ukraine – and with their democratically elected government. The illegal, immoral, brutal and reprehensible invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces is being condemned by a vast majority of the world’s countries. Therefore, we stand with the world, and in our daily sittings, we send out peaceful energy for those innocents suffering so much right now in beautiful Ukraine.
Slowly and Deliberately
At my friend’s temple in Kameoka, the doan rings a small bell beside his seat to begin and end zazen. We can do this at home, too, with whatever bell we have.
When the bell signals the end of zazen, it’s time to get up and take the mind of zazen into our daily lives. Dōgen says we should get up slowly and calmly, quietly and deliberately. We make a gassho bow then slowly straighten our legs, paying attention to how well they move and whether they’re asleep or not. We may sway from side to side to loosen up our back as well. When our body is ready, we slowly stand up, fluff up our zafu, and bow to the wall and to the zendo.
Paying attention to our body and its movement, we bring the mind of zazen with us. When we bow again as we step through the zendo entrance, the calmness and deliberateness steps through with us.
The mind of zazen means that we put aside self-referential thoughts and pay attention no matter what we’re doing. We slow down. Often, worrying about our capability and driven by nervousness, we hurry to do the next thing. And, distracted by our worries, we make mistakes. The mind of zazen helps us slow down, drop the part that’s all about us, and pay attention. With slow deliberateness, we experience the situation and naturally do our part. When we move our minds slowly and calmly, quietly and deliberately, the world slows down, too. What seemed hurried before is now just fine.
We can take this mind into our connections with others, too. Sometimes in conversation things seem to speed up and our attention scatters. Rather than slowly and attentively listening to the person speaking with us, we hurry ahead to the reply we want to give, the result we want to see. We have a response, a solution, even though we haven’t actually heard what’s being said. The mind of zazen is to pause our ideas and slowly, quietly, listen – pay attention. We put aside the idea that we know what they’re saying and listen with openness and deliberateness. We ask a question to make sure we understand. We listen some more, putting aside the part of us that knows the answer and wants to give it now so we can make things more comfortable for ourselves. We put aside our interior border collie and quietly pay attention.
Then we pause to consider an answer. Often in conversation I feel I need to speak into any silence that comes. Then I hurriedly blurt out stuff that doesn’t really help the situation. Slowing down, being calm, we can put aside our agenda and find a useful response. And be comfortable with it, even if it’s “I don’t know.”
Next time we get up from zazen, let’s take “slowly and calmly, quietly and deliberately” out into our lives. They’re fine guides on the Buddha’s Middle Way.
Picture – small zazen bell, Saikouji by Myoho Kendall
The doan is the person who takes care of the sitting hall and keeps time for zazen.
Gassho is to put your hands together in front of your face.
You can find Fukanzazengi here – https://www.sotozen.com/eng/practice/zazen/advice/fukanzanzeng.html
May — Monday Night dharma discussion 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm –on Zoom – email us for the link
May 15 – All Day Sitting— 5:00 am to 4:40 pm – click here to register
May 18 – Introduction to Zazen – 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm – hybrid – please register
May 21 – Work Day – 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
May 29 – Sangha Meeting, following Dharma Talk
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday
12:15 – 12:55 zazen
Tuesday evenings – 20 minute zazen periods
6:30 – 6:50 zazen
6:50 – 7:00 kinhin
7:00 – 7:20 zazen
7:20 – 7:30 kinhin
7:30 – 8:00 zazen
Wednesday and Thursday evenings – 40 minutes zazen periods
6:30 – 7:10 zazen
7:10 – 7:20 kinhin
7:20 – 8:00 zazen
Sunday zazen – by Zoom
9:00 – 9:40 sitting
9:45 – 10:15 dharma talk
10:15 – 11:00 check in and discussion
Quote of the week
Zen Is Right Here: Teaching Stories and Anecdotes of Shunryu Suzuki, author of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
by Shunryu Suzuki,
Edited by David Chadwick,