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We’re re-opening to vaccinated members on July 11. Bring your vaccination card and join us in person if you live in the area. We ask that everyone wear masks indoors until the CDE declares that it is safe for unvaccinated people to go unmasked again. We have masks here if you’ve forgotten yours.

Just Relax

cat in window

It was nice to have old faces returning to zazen this morning.  I hope you were able to sit for awhile, too.  Sitting every day is a good thing, even if it’s only for five or ten minutes.  We can let go of all the stuff and just relax.

When we encounter a new person or situation, our first reaction is usually attraction, aversion, or delusion.   We respond with something like “Wow, that’s cool!,” “Yikes,” and/or “What’s in it for me?”

Attraction and aversion are pretty self-explanatory, but delusion is more subtle.  Delusion is our underlying assumption that we are separate from reality and, furthermore, reality is made for me to bend to my comfort and wishes. 

Of course, reality doesn’t go as we wish.  No matter how hard we try, we can’t own it and shape it to our desires.  When we don’t see this, we can really exhaust ourselves in attempting to create our perfect world.

So let’s just relax.  When we hold onto what we want and how we think things should be, we get rigid and tight.  Seeing that reality will not ever conform totally to our dreams, we give up.  We stop planning and scheming and trying to manipulate everything.  With no agenda, we relax and become curious about what’s happening. Without the veil of thoughts, we see more clearly, too.  A quiet pleasure comes with relaxing.  The Buddha called it pleasure that isn’t dependent on sensuality or unskillful mental qualities.  It was one of the foundations of his awakening.

Zazen helps with this.  It’s a safe place with no distractions where we can just sit quietly and let go.  That letting go will gradually scent our lives like incense smoke scents our clothes. 

In the middle of our lives we can remind ourselves that we can’t make everything perfect according to our ideas and just relax and see what’s happening.  This leaves room for others to shape things in ways we hadn’t thought of.  It leaves room for reality to become what it needs to be rather than what we want it to be.

It’s the same with human interaction.  Many people scare us or exhaust us with their very ways of being.  Let’s remember we can’t change them and relax.  Let’s recognize our fears and frustrations and not try to change them, either.  We can think, “Yes, this individual terrifies me.” and we can take care not to get harmed, but we needn’t judge the person or wish the situation were otherwise.  It’s like the weather.  Do we hate atmospheric storms for coming?  Human storms are the same.  We can’t mess with them, either.

Let’s notice our responses of attraction, aversion, and delusion as we navigate our lives.  Then let’s let go of them and relax.  We’ll not have our perfect world, but we’ll make life better for everyone.

― Zuiko                                    

Activities

Zuiko sits in the zendo at every zazen period listed below.  Please sit with her whenever you can.  Just sitting quietly can be helpful in times like these.

Sunday zazen and dharma talk are live-streamed on Zoom.  Contact us if you’d like the link.

Our Monday night dharma discussion group is continuing through Zoom.   If you’re interested in joining, please contact the Center.

You can connect with us through email or phone.  And you can listen to our dharma talks online and read our posts on Facebook.  To find the dharma talks, click on the “Resources” tab above, and you’ll see the link.

Upcoming Events

Monday Night Dharma – by Zoom – Monday nights , 7:00– 8:00 p.m.  Contact us for the link.

Introduction to Zazen – by Zoom – Wednesday, September 15, 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.  Contact us for the link.

All-day Sitting — September 19, 5:00 am to 4:40 pm — please register

Sangha Meeting September 26

Weekday Activities

Noon Zazen

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday
12:15 – 12:55 zazen

Evening 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

Weekend Activities

Sunday zazen – by Zoom

9:00 –  9:40 sitting
9:45 – 10:15 dharma talk
10:15 – 11:00 check in and discussion

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Quote of the week

Feel as a Meditator
 
There might be periods—a year or even two—when we can’t get to the cushion, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up . . . We can still carry meditation inside, still see and feel as a meditator, but physically practice differently.

 

From  The Great Spring: Writing, Zen, and This Zigzag Life 

by Natalie Goldberg
 
 

CEDAR RAPIDS ZEN CENTER 1618 Bever Avenue SE Cedar Rapids, IA