Welcome to Melbourne Zen Centre (MZC)!
MZC runs regular Zazen (Zen meditation) meetings for people from all walks of life. Whether you are new to Zen practice, or have had some prior experience, please feel free to come and sit. Consistent with Zen, MZC follows a clear and simple form of practice rather than expounding ideas or belief systems.
Regardless of what may bring you to Zen, Zazen is itself a practice of letting go. While there is now an extensive body of research that regular meditation practice will reliably create significant stress relief and many other health benefits, it is often our fixation and impatience with reaping those benefits which can get in the way of meditating simply and well.
To emphasize this, Zen master Kodo Sawaki (1880-1965) often used to say to newcomers that "Zazen is good for nothing". In doing so, Sawaki took issue not with Zazen itself, which he continuedto practice throughout his life, but rather with people's narrow expectations of personal gain which can only undermine the practice.
The practice of Zazen is extremely simple and straightforward: Just Sitting. You simply sit with a straight posture and maintain awareness of your experience without getting caught up in assessing, comparing, or trying to change it. Basically you start exactly where you are, and in the end you are also just where you are. Along the way, there is no special technique and no pursuit of any special experience.
Zazen is not about imposing calmness, stillness, or any special state of mind. It simply involves being aware moment by moment which sets the ground from which calmness and peace of mind eventually develop as natural side-effects. Initially this approach can seem similar to "mindfulness", except that with Zazen there is ultimately no object of awareness and certainly none of the self-conscious mannerisms commonly associated with "trying to be mindful".
Zazen relies on regularity and habit much more so than on any special skill. Certainly it is no performance, contest, or forced activity. To sit Zazen is really as simple as choosing to do so. If you choose to do so, there is no question that you will be capable of it. So the real issue is not whether or not you will "succeed", but whether or not you may be willing to start accepting your experience just as it is.
Just sitting is to be one with your present experience. Being one with your present experience is to become one with yourself. And being one with yourself is actually to start losing our ideas about who you are. Whatever benefits that may come from Zen practice, they will come not from trying to control or change our lives, but from being wholeheartedly present and letting go.
Sawaki Roshi:"Hey what are you gawking at? Don't you see it's about you!"
MZC currently offers the following basic meeting formats:
Evening Zazen Mondays 7.30pm-9.30pm at Bull Water Zendo, Malvern East: weekly formal Zen practice comprising 2 Zazen periods, Kinhin, Heart Sutra and Tea Ceremony (Dana $8).
Evening Zazen Thursdays 7.30pm-9.30pm at St. Oswald's Church, Glen Iris: weekly Zen practice comprising 2 Zazen periods, Kinhin and a Talk or discussion on Zen practice (Dana $8)
Lunchtime Zazen Tuesdays 12.30pm-1.30pm at RMIT City: weekly drop-in meetings comprising 1 Zazen period and a Talk including opportunity for Q&A (Dana $4).
Mini-Sesshin 1st Monday of every month 6.30pm-10.10pm at Bull Water Zendo, Malvern East: extended evening Zazen format comprising 5 Zazen periods, Heart Sutra, and Tea Ceremony (Dana $8).
Sesshin held from time to time at different venues in Melbourne and elsewhere: extended Zen meetings comprising one or more days of intensive Zazen practice (Dana is set individually for each Sesshin).
All MZC meetings are listed in our Calendar on the left sidebar tab. Our main practice venue, Bull Water Zendo, is located in a quiet cul-de-sac in Malvern East. The Thursday evening venue at St Oswald's Church offers an alternative location on High Street, Glen Iris. Due to limited seating at both venues, please be sure to RSVP before coming. RSVPs on Monday evenings involve sending a Dana payment online via PayPal. We also hold a Tuesday lunch-time meeting at the RMIT city campus which offers a shorter format that is ideal for those new to zen practice.
MZC is a non-profit operation and payments on Monday evenings support ongoing running costs such as meetup fees and purchase of candles, incense, zafus and zabutons. Payment on Thursday evenings goes directly to St. Oswald's Church for our use of their facilities.
Come and sit!
Video Talks by the Zenmonki: www.zenmonki.com
Interview with Seikan: www.meditationhow.info/2010/06/just-sitting.html
MZC on Facebook: www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001709730652
Antaiji Monastery Japan: antaiji.org
Melbourne Zen Hospice: www.zenhospice.org.au
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