Zen Training at SMZ
Zen practice develops incrementally and its core is the practice of zazen.
Zazen is the essential base for awakening and must be maintained at slowly increasing levels of challenge if insight is to develop. Regular attendance at the zendo is strongly encouraged.
After developing a practice that can sustain the 3 periods of zazen with relative ease, you are encouraged to attend one or more of our extended sitting days called zazenkai.
This can then be extended to attendance at one of our weekend retreats or sesshin, two of which take place at a retreat center outside of the city while a third takes place at our zendo . Two week long sesshin take place each summer.
Service to the sangha is also an important part of Zen training. Practitioners serve in different capacities: taking on different service positions in the zendo; greeting newcomers; setting up the zendo; opening up in the morning and so forth; as well as taking on various organizational duties necessary to sustain our space and our sangha.
Once you have been sitting with us for a while, you are encouraged to step forward and offer your service as it may be needed. This is the Zen way. Just speak to the jitsu or to one of the practice leaders.
As stated above in the Daisan section, regular meetings with a teacher are central to Zen development. You are encouraged to go to both teachers, if you wish, for as long as you like. Eventually, however, you will probably want to stay with one of them on an on-going basis. This relationship develops naturally and we have no formal procedures in this regard at SMZ.
Some students go on to become senior students by invitation from their teacher. Senior students assist our teachers in their work and take on a greater leadership role in the zendo. Jitsu (or head monks in the monastic tradition) who supervise the zendo in the absence of a teacher, come from the ranks of senior students.