Online Zazen during COVID-19
Welcome, everyone. Here is information about Still Mind Zendo’s "online zendo," which will enable us to meditate together in real time during this coronavirus outbreak using a video conferencing application called Zoom. Please become acquainted with this entire page before attending for the first time. Thank you for joining us.
Please note that our substantial NYC rent and other expenses still need to be met even though we are closed, so we ask you to please give whatever you can to support our zendo when you virtually attend one of our meditation sessions. With deep thanks.
When is the meditation?
- Every Tuesday night, 7 pm - 8:30 pm, open to the public. There will be two 25-minute periods of zazen meditation, each followed by 5 minutes of slow kin-hin (walking meditation); the third 25-minute period will include a dharma talk by one of our teachers or senior students. Brief chanting. Donations gratefully accepted.
- Every Saturday, 9 am - 10 am, open to the public. There will be two 25-minute periods of zazen meditation with 5 minutes of slow kin-hin, or walking meditation, in between. No dharma talk. Brief chanting. Donations gratefully accepted.
- Monthly Saturday Extended Meditation (zazenkai): 9 am - 2:30 pm, open to the public. Held on the 4th Saturday of each month; see our Calendar for exact dates. For a full schedule, please scroll down. You can join for the whole zazenkai or for whatever time you can. Donations gratefully accepted.
- Introduction to Zen Class: First and third Saturday of each month, 10:30 - 11:30 am. Please see our Calendar for exact dates.
How does online meditation work?
Using your computer or your smartphone:
- For Tuesday Zen sessions click: https://zoom.us/j/811139791 or you may join by telephone instead: 929-205-6099 / Meeting ID: 811139791
- For Saturday Zen sessions and Extended Meditation days click: https://nyu.zoom.us/j/817105360 or you may join by telephone instead: 646-558-8656 / Meeting ID: 817-105-360
- For the Introduction to Zen Class click: https://nyu.zoom.us/j/97037551751
Please try to join the meeting 10 minutes before, so you have time to settle.
- If you have never used Zoom and need to install it on your computer, click the link above to join the Zoom conference and your browser will give you directions on how to install the app.
- In order to hear the facilitator and teacher, please click “Join with computer audio” if you are using a computer.
- Your microphone will be muted and your video will be off when you enter the Zoom. Please leave it that way, including during chanting.
- Once you are connected, you can go to your meditation place (facing an uncluttered area or bare wall, if possible) and wait for the opening bell and chant.
- During the dharma talk, if you would like to see the teacher’s picture in a larger view, click on the “speaker view” instead of “gallery view” in the top right hand corner of the Zoom screen.
What Is the Structure For Our Online Zen?
* We open the sitting at 7 pm by chanting the Gatha of Repentance (see below).
* At the beginning of each period of zazen (there will be two periods of 25 minutes each) the facilitator rings three bells to begin zazen.
* After 25 minutes, there are two bells to end the sitting period. The facilitator claps to indicate the beginning and end of kin-hin (walking meditation).
* During kin-hin time, walk slowly and mindfully within a designated space in your home; if your space is small, just take short steps.
* Before the third period with dharma talk, we chant the Gatha on Opening the Sutra (see below)
* At the end of the third period/dharma talk, we chant the Great Vows for All (see below)
* The facilitator closes the sitting by chanting alone the Evening Gatha and sharing any closing announcements.
* Two periods of zazen. The same format is the same as Tuesday except there is no dharma talk.
On Extended Meditation Days (Zazenkai):
We invite you to join us for the whole of this extended meditation. However, if you can only attend for part of the time, please enter or leave the Zoom meeting during kin-hin or breaks and not during zazen or, especially, during the Dharma Talk.
9 am Opening Words
Gatha of Repentence (chant)
Three periods of zazen (25 minutes each) with 5-minute kin-hin (walking meditation) in between
10:35 am Break
10:50 am One period of zazen / kin-hin
Gatha on Opening the Sutra (chant)
Dharma Talk / kin-hin
One period of zazen
Chanting service: The Heart Sutra and The Harmonious Song of Difference and Sameness
12:30 pm Lunch break
1 pm Three periods of zazen (25 minutes each) with 5-minute kin-hin (walking meditation) in between
Closing chants: Great Vows for All and Evening Gatha (solo chant by facilitator)
For Introduction to Zen Classes:
This class is offered for those new to Zen or as a refresher for those with some experience, and will focus on the heart of Zen practice: zazen, or sitting meditation. This includes right posture, focus on the breath in the body, dealing with thoughts that distract and pull you away from the present moment, and how to return to the breath once pulled away. There will also be teaching on kin-hin (walking meditation) and on the necessary structures and forms on which Zen is built. Classes will be led either by Sensei Marisa Seishin Cespedes, Sensei Jean Seiwa Gallagher, or Senior Student Matthias Birk.
For further information, including a brief background on Zen, please see our Intro to Zen page.
A small donation for this one-hour teaching would be greatly appreciated.
Still Mind Zendo Chants:
We do two or three short chants (gathas) during our sittings. Please remain muted during the chant but chant on your own along with the facilitator. On Half Day meditation days (zazenkai) we also chant The Heart Sutra and The Harmonious Song of Difference and Sameness.
Here are the words to all the chants:
Gatha of Repentance
All the harmful karma ever created by me of old
On account of my beginningless greed, hatred, and ignorance
Born of my conduct, speech, and thought,
I repent of it now.
Gatha on Opening the Sutra
The dharma, incomparably profound and infinitely subtle,
is rarely encountered, even in millions of ages.
Now we see it, hear it, receive it, and maintain it.
May we completely realize the Tathagata’s true meaning.
Great Vows for All
Creations are numberless; I vow to free them.
Delusions are inexhaustible; I vow to put an end to them.
Dharma gates are boundless; I vow to enter them.
The awakened way is unsurpassable; I vow to embody it.
Let me respectfully remind you
Life and death are of supreme importance
Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost
Each of us should strive to awaken, awaken
This night your days are diminished by one
Do not squander your life.
Maha Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra
(Great Heart of Wisdom Sutra)
Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva [The Awakened One Of Compassion)],
doing deep prajna paramita [unsurpassable wisdom],
Clearly saw emptiness of all the five conditions,
thus completely relieving misfortune and pain.
O Shariputra [a disciple], form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no
other than form; Form is exactly emptiness, emptiness exactly form;
Sensation, conception, discrimination, awareness are likewise like this.
O Shariputra, all dharmas are forms of emptiness, no born, not destroyed;
not stained, not pure, without loss, without gain; So in emptiness there is
no form, no sensation; conception, discrimination, awareness,
No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind;
No color, sound, smell, taste, touch, phenomena;
No realm of sight, no realm of consciousness.
No ignorance and no end to ignorance
No old age and death and no end to old age and death;
No suffering, no cause of suffering, no extinguishing, no path;
No wisdom and no gain. No gain and thus the bodhisattva lives prajna
paramita with no hindrance in the mind, no hindrance, therefore no fear,
Far beyond deluded thoughts, this is nirvana.
All past, present and future Buddhas live prajna paramita,
And therefore attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi [unsurpassable enlightenment] Therefore know, prajna paramita is the great mantra, the vivid mantra, the
best mantra, the unsurpassable mantra;
It completely clears all pain, this is the truth, not a lie.
So set forth the Prajna Paramita Mantra,
Set forth this mantra and say:
Gate! Gate! [Gone, Gone] Paragate [Gone Beyond] Parasamgate! [Fully Beyond]
Bodhi! Svaha! [Awake, Rejoice] Prajna Heart Sutra.
Harmonious Song of Difference and Sameness (Sandokai)
The mind of the great sage of India is intimately
Conveyed from West to East.
Among human beings are wise ones and fools,
But in the Way there is no northern or southern ancestor
The subtle source is clear and bright.
The tributary streams flow through the darkness.
To be attached to things is illusion.
To encounter the absolute is not yet enlightenment.
Each and all, the subjective and objective spheres are related
And at the same time independent.
Related, yet working differently, though each keeps its own place.
Form makes the character and appearance different.
Sounds distinguish comfort and discomfort.
The dark makes all words one,
The brightness distinguishes good and bad phrases.
The four elements return to their nature as a child to its mother.
Fire is hot, wind moves, water is wet, earth hard.
Eyes see, ears hear, nose smells, tongue tastes the salt and sour.
Each is independent of the other.
Cause and effect must return to the great reality.
The words high and low are used relatively.
Within light there is darkness,
But do not try to understand that darkness.
Within darkness there is light,
But do not look for that light.
Light and darkness are a pair,
Like the foot before and the foot behind in walking.
Each thing has its own intrinsic value and is
Related to everything else in function and position.
Ordinary life fits the absolute as a box and its lid.
The absolute works together with the relative
Like two arrows meeting in midair.
Reading words you should grasp the great reality.
Do not judge by any standards.
If you do not see the Way, you do not see it even as you walk on it.
When you walk the Way, it is not near, it is not far.
If you are deluded, you are mountains and rivers away from it.
I respectfully say to those who wish to be enlightened:
Do not waste your time by night or day.