Join us for Zazen
Sundays at 9 am
Chuo-ji Temple Zazen Group
(Kanju Watanabe, Head Coordinator)
What are the benefits of practicing seated meditation? How much do I have
to study in order to master zazen?
Does doing zazen consist of silently
enduring an ascetic cross-legged sitting posture while getting hit by a flat
Do I have to be Buddhist or an adept of Soto Zen in order to
practice zazen at Chuo-ji Temple?
These are some questions that you might have about practicing zazen.
Actually, in order to practice zazen, it doesn't matter whether you are young or old, male or female,
or what your religious beliefs are. Whether you are an atheist or a follower of a specific religious path,
whether you speak Japanese or not, you are welcome to come and practice zazen with us.
Simply by sitting and being present, anyone can do zazen. Although ascetic practices exist in Buddhist schools,
zazen has been called "the gate to ease," or the practice of pleasant sitting. In the teachings of Zen,
it is said that the body and mind are not distinctly separate, and that having a proper mental attitude comes from having a proper-straight-sitting posture.
Therefore, having a good posture during zazen is essential. Zazen is simple yet beneficial.
■ What is Zazen?
The Zen school of Buddhism believes that every human being is born with clear minds and the capacity to live in an open-minded way.
However, over time individuals become hampered by desires and emotions that lead to suffering and to the clouding over of those inherently good human qualities.
As an example of this, imagine that you are taking part in a competition.
Even though you might have the skills needed in order to win the competition, by continuously thinking,
"I want to win! I want to win," you might get stuck, prevent yourself from realizing your full potential, and then lose the competition. By continuously thinking,
"I want this… I want that," we lose sight of our basic good nature, and our lives become constricted and limited.
The aim of Zen is to reduce or even to eliminate these worldly desires and
to regain the original condition of the self. Being released from our desires,
we regain access to clear perception, spiritual strength, and the ability to live fully. By practicing zazen, we can reduce the stresses in our lives and start living each moment of our lives afresh.
Although doing zazen brings these benefits, if you sit with the desire of attaining them, by creating a new desire you will actually not realize anything.
Just sitting without wishing for anything. That is zazen.
■ Zazen at Chuo-ji Temple
The Chuo-ji Temple regards the weekly practice of zazen at the temple as
an important community activity. Every Sunday morning we sit in zazen, and the abbot of Chuo-ji often gives talks about sutras,
topics concerning modern society, and how to live our lives in the spirit of the Zen teachings. Our zazen group usually consists of about twenty to thirty men and women.
Foreigners frequently participate in order to experience authentic Zen culture. If you are
a beginner, you can receive zazen instruction in Japanese or English.
Newcomers are requested to arrive at the temple at least thirty minutes before the first zazen session begins.