Finding Time for Zazen

As most of you know, zazen or seated meditation (“sitting”) is the core of our practice.  Zazen helps us quiet the mind, temporarily reducing and sometimes eliminating the chatter of our various internal voices.  When they quiet down, we can objectively reflect on that which is actually present.  In that space, we have an opportunity to discover who, or what, we really are—as opposed to what all of that monkey-mind chatter tells us we are.

As wonderful as that opportunity is, however, we often struggle to find time for zazen.  We are not monks living in temples, supported by our local communities, with only our spiritual practice to attend to.  No, we have to work jobs, take care of families, homes, cars, pets, neighbors, and so on.  Most of the time, we think we are busier than we want to be.  Often, our internal voices tell us with convincing, work-a-day authority that we don’t have time for zazen.  Zazen, these voices seem to say, is yet another thing we have to add on top of a stack of many other things that is already too much to manage.  Sometimes it seems like we need a bigger warehouse so that we can forklift in thirty minutes of zazen.

We do have another voice, however, that speaks to us with a different message.  It says that zazen is not a thing added to all of the other things in our lives.  In fact, this other voice continues, life is not at all like a stack or a pile or a boxful of things that we have to somehow force into what is already a bulging life-space.  This other voice says that life is just living, moment by moment.  Each moment contains the same amount of living space and living time.  You cannot put more into it or take anything out of it.  It is what it is, so why not relax?

Of course, it’s very hard to believe that this voice is telling us the truth when the baby’s diaper needs changing at the same time that that pot of bean soup on the stove is boiling over and a long-awaited phone call has now to be answered.  But the difference between someone who sits and someone who doesn’t is that the one who sits isn’t anxious and hysterical about those dirty-diaper-soup-pot-and-phone-call-all-at-once moments of life.  That person instantly sees which thing—the diaper, the soup, or the phone—will be attended to first.  Which one do you suppose it is?  There is a right answer here.  But if you think of life as an ever-accumulating tsunami of things and tasks, you’ll just be guessing, trying to triage your way out of the impossible.  You also can’t just evade the question by saying it doesn’t matter.  So what are you going to do?

And to return to the central question, how will you find time for zazen while doing everything else you have to do?  Those who sit can see in an instant when they will do it.   How have they managed to figure this out?  How will you?


Gendo Roshi is Spiritual Director of Great Wave Zen Sangha.

 

 

 

September Mindfulness Walk in Ludington State Park

Hamlin Lake
Hamlin Lake. Photo by Jimfix, 2011.

Great Wave Zen Sangha will offer an outdoor guided mindfulness event in Ludington State Park, starting at 9:30 AM, Saturday, September 11, 2021.

As part of this (mostly) silent mindful walking experience, we will perform an abbreviated version of the Gate of Sweet Nectar ceremony (Kanroman) to memorialize those who lost their lives in the World Trade Center Bombings of 2001. The walk (out and back) should be easily accessible for anyone in reasonably good physical health.

Please note that to ensure everyone’s health and safety, we will require proof of vaccination against COVID-19.  All participants will also be required to wear masks when stopped or congregating and to maintain social distancing throughout the experience.

To sign up for this event, please log in and complete our Event Registration Form by no later than Monday, September 6, at 5:00 PM.

In-Person Zazen Cancelled as of August 3, 2021

Dear friends,

Last night, the GWZS Board of Directors considered the wisdom of continuing to offer weekly in-person sitting at Myogenji, given the considerable surge in COVID-19 infections, a vaccination rate of less than 60% in Mason County, and the very highly contagious nature of the Delta strain.  As a result, we decided that it would be best to once again cease holding in-person meetings in the zendo until there is sufficient scientific evidence to suggest that no harm will be done by coming together in person.

I know this news will come as a disappointment for many of you, but it was, I feel, the right decision.  We considered whether simply adding a masking requirement to our current vaccination requirement would suffice to keep all safe for in-person meetings.  However, masking alone is not necessarily enough for a practice space as small as Myogenji’s.

Please Get Vaccinated

In addition to sharing the above news, the GWZS Board wishes to implore anyone who is purposely avoiding vaccination (or among the “vaccine-hesitant”) to reconsider their position.  All arguments against vaccination, except in instances involving children and very rare, pre-existing medical conditions, are unfounded.  (Tested vaccines for children may be available late this year or early next year.)  No valid scientific evidence exists that would suggest getting vaccinated carries a greater risk to one’s health than would be the case with any other vaccine.  Indeed, scientifically possible risks associated with vaccines are far, far less than those associated with getting sick with COVID-19.  Those who voluntarily refuse vaccination are largely responsible for the current resurgence of the coronavirus.  They unnecessarily put their own and others’ lives at risk of illness; serious, long-term debilitations;  and even death.  To do this is to violate the Pure Precept to Do No Harm and the first Grave Precept to avoid taking life.

If you have been led to believe that vaccines are dangerous or ineffective, please consult your primary healthcare provider for reliable information.  Be aware that anecdotal “evidence” that vaccines are unsafe is not evidence in a scientific sense.  (You may wish to consult credible debunking services such as Snopes or PolitiFact to determine whether anti-vaccine claims are valid grounds for refusing the vaccine.)  It may also help to understand the mechanisms that allow COVID vaccines to work.  If you would like more information about that, please use our Contact Form, and we will try to connect you to reliable sources of information.

Gendo Roshi, on behalf of the Great Wave Zen Sangha Board of Directors

 

Great Wave Offers Buddhist Art Discussion Series

RABKAR WANGCHUK, “Spiritual Mind and Modern Technology,” 2013.

In The Moment of Art: Traditional, Modern, & Contemporary Art from a Buddhist Perspective series of events, Great Wave’s Rebecca Getsuki Mott will facilitate our discussion of a variety of traditional and contemporary works of Buddhist and Buddhism-inspired works of art.

This series will surely speak to the questions and curiosities of seasoned practitioners and beginners alike. No prior art knowledge or experience is necessary.

Our discussions will take place via Zoom video conferencing at 9:30 AM, July 18, July 25, and August 1. Prior to each meeting, participants will be provided with a selection of artworks and short readings as well as questions for consideration.

To participate, please complete our Event Registration Form. We ask for a $10 donation toward this series of events. However, if this donation amount represents a financial hardship for you, please request a scholarship on the registration form.

Once registered, you will receive an email with more event details and a link to join the Zoom meeting.

Reminder: Rising Sun Zazenkai, July 9-11

Dear friends,

I just wanted to send you a little reminder that Great Wave will hold an in-person retreat July 9 – 11.  I called this event the Rising Sun Zazenkai because it is like a new day to be able to offer our first in-person retreat since the coronavirus pandemic began over a year ago.  I really do hope you’ll find a way to participate in this special event.

For those of you who cannot make it to this event in person, we are offering the opportunity to attend my teisho virtually via Zoom video conferencing.  The teisho will take place on Saturday, July 10, 10:00 – 11:00 AM, and we ask for a $10 donation.  To participate, please complete our Event Registration form.  You will then be emailed details about how to join the Zoom meeting.

Please take good care of yourselves and practice with as much dedication as you can.

In gassho,
Gendo Roshi

 

Great Wave to Hold Rising Sun Zazenkai, July 9-11

Even when the clouds hang low, we always know when the sun has risen. Now, after the long night of the pandemic, we are at last able to rekindle our in-person practice. We hope you will join us at Myogenji Temple, in Ludington, Michigan, for the Rising Sun Extended Zazenkai. This retreat will begin at 7:00 PM, Friday, July 9, and end at 9:00 AM, Sunday, July 11.

Practitioners of all levels of experience are welcome to attend this day that will be rich with opportunities for meditation, scripture recitation, teisho, and dokusan with Gendo Roshi. Four vegetarian meals will be included.

To participate, please complete our Event Registration Form by no later than July 1. Your timely registration and payment ($40) allow us to plan a menu and make other arrangements.

For those who are unable to attend this retreat, we are offering the opportunity to attend Gendo Roshi’s teisho (Dharma talk) by Zoom. To participate, please just let us know by using our contact form. We will respond with details and instructions for connecting via Zoom. We ask that Zoom participants make a $10 free-will donation, but no will be turned away for inability to pay.

We look forward to practicing with you!

Great Wave to Allow In-Person Participation in Weekly Zazen Meetings

Image by Adam S. (CC2 license.)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Great Wave Zen Sangha has been hosting meetings for zazen via the Zoom video conferencing platform.  We plan to continue doing so until all concern for transmission of the virus is behind us.  However, as of this month, we are now also allowing in-person participation in our weekly meetings for those who are fully vaccinated and immunized against the COVID-19 virus and have received an orientation to Zen practice.

Our weekly meetings take place on Thursday evenings from 7:15 PM to 8:15 PM and include two periods of zazen and one of kinhin.

To participate either virtually or in person, please log in and complete our Event Registration Form. After registering, you will receive an email with instructions for participating in your chosen mode of participation. If you choose to participate virtually, you will need to install the free Zoom client on your computer. (You can also download and install the free Zoom mobile app on your smartphone.)  If you choose to participate in person (and are fully immunized), wearing a mask is optional.

To ensure that we can start and end on time, please plan to join the Zoom meeting no later than 7:10 PM. In-person participants should arrive at Myogenji no later than 7:10 PM as well.

Virtual Zazen to Resume May 27, 2021

Image by Adam S. (CC2 license.)

Great Wave Zen Sangha will resume Virtual Zazen meetings on Thursday, May 27, 2021.  Meetings include two periods of zazen and one of kinhin most Thursday evenings for the next few weeks. While the purpose of virtual zazen is to safeguard against transmission of the COVID-19 virus, those are who are fully immunized may attend zazen in-person at Myogenji Temple.

To participate virtually, you will need to register here. After you have registered, you will receive an email with a link that will allow you to join the Zoom session. You will need to install the free Zoom software on your computer. (You can also download and install the free Zoom mobile app on your smartphone.)

To participate in person, please use our contact form to inform us of your vaccination status prior to your first visit. Masks are encouraged, but optional.

To ensure that we can start and end on time, please plan to join the Zoom meeting no later than 7:10 PM.  In-person participants should arrive at Myogenji no later than 7:10 PM as well.

If you are new to Zen, please call 231-907-2910 or use our Contact form so that we can give you an introduction to Zen meditation practice.

Great Wave Launches Book Discussion

Members and Friends of Great Wave Zen Sangha,

Please consider joining us for a book study and discussion beginning in late February 2021.  We will be taking up a collection of writings by our late teacher and founder of the White Plum Asanga, Taizan Maezumi, Roshi.  In Appreciate Your Life: The Essence of Zen Practice, Maezumi Roshi provides short, accessible explorations of topics including zazen, koans, and shikantaza, as well as the intimate relationship between our practice and our lives. The book will surely speak to the questions and curiosities of seasoned practitioners and beginners alike.

We will meet semi-monthly via Zoom video chat for approximately one-hour beginning at 9:30 AM, on February 28, March 14, March 28, and April 11.  Our discussion moderator, postulant priest Kevin Muzo Holohan, will choose a selection of readings and provide questions for consideration prior to each meeting.

To participate, obtain a copy of the book and complete the book discussion registration form. There is no cost for this series of events, (but free-will donations are sincerely appreciated).  If purchasing the book represents a financial hardship, a copy will be provided for you.  Simply make a request using our Contact form.

Once registered, you will receive a zoom link to join the meetings, the selection of chapters for the first week, and questions for consideration.

We look forward to deepening our understanding of our lineage and practice together through friendly dialogue and discussion!