What we're about
Welcome to Melbourne Zen Centre!
MZC runs regular Zazen (seated meditation) meetings for anyone who may be interested. Whether you are new to Zen practice or have had some prior experience please feel free to come and sit.
MZC currently offers the following meetings on a regular basis:
Monday Evening Zazen: a weekly meeting from 7.30pm - 9pm. The format comprises 2 x 30 minute periods of Zazen with Kinhin in between. At the end of the evening we chant the Heart Sutra, serve tea and catch up with a short discussion or chat.
Sunrise Zazen: a monthly meeting, usually on the first Sunday, from 7am to 8.30am. The format comprises 2 x 40 minute periods of Zazen with Kinhin in between. A light breakfast is served after the meeting.
Occasionally we experiment with other times and venues.
Our main practice venue, Bull Water Zendo, is located in a residential cul-de-sac in Malvern East. Seating is limited so please be sure to RSVP before attending.
(by MZC Founder, Seikan Čech)
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 emphasise 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 continued to 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 moment-by-moment awareness 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 no object of awareness and none of the self-consciousness 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.
Antaiji Monastery Japan: http://antaiji.org/en/