Zazen is a way of quieting our busy, scheming, chatty, hungry minds. In the process, we reveal a jewel hidden in the rubbish, a jewel that is always there but hidden by ignorance and deception. Ultimately we realize that the jewel is ordinary life.
Zazen is training in realization and insight. It is as much in how we clean the floor as in how we sit. It is paying attention to how we begin a project and how we end it; how we put on, wear, take off, and fold our clothes; how we eat so there is no waste and minimal cleanup, and yet with elegance and full attention; and how we work. It is a practice of being aware of where we put our minds, how we use our words, and how we move our bodies. The practice aims to create a peaceful and harmonious culture.
Zazen is reciting sacred formulations of syllables, called 'Dharani,' to invite certain energies to manifest, energies such as compassion, wisdom, protection from delusion, fearlessness. Zazen is chanting sutras of the Buddha and teachings of the Lineage.
Zazen is a lot of bowing. It is a means of showing respect and being present with ourselves and others. We bow to our inner wisdom. We bow to our lineage that shows us our way to ordinary mind.
Throughout the year, sesshins (silent retreat practices) are offered. These programs last from one to seven days. The word sesshin (pronounced sesh-EEN) literally means collecting the mind-heart. During sesshin we practice sitting and walking meditation, listen to Dharma talks, hold dokusan (private meetings between teacher and students), chant sutras, perform work practice, and eat meals in oryoki style.