Wednesday, 1 June 2016


33. Zazen (sitting meditation) would seem to be the most private and individualistic of spiritual practices. For here the practitioner sits in silence and stillness. And though in a training centre or retreat (sesshin) situation he or she will sit with a group and have the silent support of the group, the practice is nevertheless essentially solitary. What happens in this silent sitting is not a subject for discussion with others, with one exception: the meditator goes alone to the Zen Master for guidance about issues to do with practice. What is said in that private interview (dokusan) is strictly confidential. Still, the apparently individualistic practice of zazen is supported by the Sangha through the rituals that surround it, through the master's Zen talks (teisho), and through the encouragement and watchful care of monitors who serve as leaders in the meditation hall (zendo). Moreover, the positive benefits of zazen to the individual will manifest themselves in the practitioner's selfless service to the Sangha and the the world at large. Zazen breaks down individualism by opening the meditator to the other. As the sutra says: 'In the Awaken'd One I'm one with all'.

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