Meditation In Life is a forum for sangha members, new members to tenured practitioners, to share how meditation and Zen practice shape our lives, or to hear the personal stories of fellow sangha members. It is an expression of the new face of Zen, of how Zen practice is being established in America.
For thousands of years, before it came to the U.S. in the 1960’s, Zen was practiced by “exclusive people,” individuals who chose to live an ascetic and celibate life, away from ordinary society. They lived in monasteries, following strict rules and a strict schedule that included several hours of meditation every day. They slept and took their meals side by side in the meditation hall, and bathed together in the communal bath. They chose to live apart from the everyday world in order to pursue their spiritual practice single-mindedly, without distraction. They did not have to go to work, raise a family, pay rent, meet deadlines, absorb new technologies every few months, endure long commutes, or care for aging parents. And they did not feel the stress that accompanies fulfilling such responsibilities. Rather, they were supported in their spiritual seeking by the closeness of their isolated community.
In today’s fast-changing world, Zen is being practiced by folks in the mainstream of American life, men and women who have to find a way to incorporate the practice into their busy lives. Unlike monks in the monastery, we live apart from each other, coming together only occasionally when our schedules permit. The traditional feeling and support of community - so essential to practice - is elusive. In the absence of living together, we have to find new ways to develop that support for each other.
Our coming together this Saturday is perhaps the most important way. By sharing our experiences, by listening to each other, by asking the important questions, by establishing closer relationships, we can create the sense of intimacy of individuals working together for the same ends. So whether you are new to Zen practice or a long-time member of Kannon Do, I would like to encourage you to make time in your schedule to be part of what I anticipate will be a meaningful morning.