Our practice of Zen points directly to the core of Reality beyond all beliefs, scriptures, rituals and other distracting preoccupations of mind, so that sincere practitioners may see into their deepest nature and live from it, and thus ultimately realize Buddha-nature for themselves in this very lifetime. This practice results in the development of peace and joy, a clearer mind and a more open non-judgmental compassionate heart, and gratitude for what each day brings.
Gradually, through dedicated practice, one becomes more and more free, so that with clarity of mind and eye and unfettered hands, one can respond ever more appropriately to one’s karma and contribute benevolently to the world. Authentic Zen has nothing to do with China, Japan, India, Korea or any cultural trappings, but rather with the human heart and mind, with the sources of suffering and inner bondage, and the Way of liberation from this suffering and bondage into the lasting inner happiness and freedom that is the birthright of every human being.
The core of Zen practice is the seated meditation technique called zazen. Zazen is a kind of “plunging into the present moment.” It is focused, intent, alert and energetic. Yet, at the same time it is deeply relaxing and profoundly healing—naturally building a kind of centeredness in the lower abdomen called joriki. Over a gradual period of time, this focus and joriki lead to a dispassionate approach in which things that may previously have been upsetting and provocative are now more readily embraced and released.
As centeredness and dispassion naturally develop from consistent and devoted zazen meditation, one is able, more and more, to intentionally enter a silent depth of awareness. In this silence, wisdom regarding the true nature of oneself and reality grows ever stronger. Moving freely from this silence into the busy world of activity and back again, a great flexibility and joyfulness of spirit steadily emerge.
In Zen practice, working with a skilled teacher is considered essential to one’s progress. One needs to learn proper zazen technique, both in positioning the body and in the use of meditation focal points to move “underneath” and release delusive thinking patterns.
Lively Zen lectures by the teacher, calledteishos,are a regular part of Zen training and help to point the direction to move in one’s practice as one’s faith in the process is strengthened. Regular private interviews with the teacher, called dokusan, are immensely helpful in learning to overcome obstructions and take big leaps forward in understanding and wisdom. In this close work between student and teacher, intimacy naturally grows over time but boundaries are always consciously respected by the teacher in order to protect the clarity and freedom of this unique learning process.
The teachers of The Living Dharma Center have long experience and extensive training in all aspects of Zen practice. They have a gentle, compassionate approach to guiding others and uphold high ethical standards congruent with the Zen Precepts while respecting the autonomy of the student at all times. An authentic and traditional core approach to Zen training is preserved, but with a minimum of forms and rituals so that practice can seamlessly and invisibly meld with one’s everyday life. In this way, our Zen practice becomes both very special but also “nothing special”.
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