Why bother to sit with your hands is
a particular position? Why should it
matter if the left hand or foot is on
top or bottom? Why sit and walk just
Form is the skeleton which supports any kind of practice,
whether it be meditation or tennis or cooking. If we
neglect these fundamental elements, this neglect will
be reflected in the practice. And so form is indispensable
to developing strong practice.
Maezumi Roshi talked to about really doing the best
zen, he said how you execute the forms is very revealing,
If you sit slouched over, if you wear your clothing
in a sloppy manner, if you come to the zendo needing
a bath and smelling bad, if you allow your thumbs to
become tense and press upward or loose to the point
that they drift apart — all these give
the teacher or monitor a clear indication of your state
of mindfulness. So by correcting your posture or your
mudra practice, they help bring your mind back to what
it is you’re
trying to practice.
You're not practicing postures and positions, but
they do facilitate your practice. It’s a powerful
aid to our practice.
Japanese Zen / American Zen
This course presents the
ancient practice of zazen from Japan
(previously from China) and the teachings
of Japanese teachers such as Dogen Zenji
and Maezumi Roshi. If you have been to
a Zen center, it most likely had Japanese
liturgy, Japanese robes and other manifestations
of Japanese Zen. How do you relate to
this experience? Are you drawn to it,
troubled by, confused by it?
There’s no particular reason why one should
consider Zen a Japanese or Chinese or Indian artifact.
Zen is beyond circumstances of ethnicity, culture,
and geography. Nevertheless, as with any systematic
practice, it exists in a
context and it takes on some of the characteristics
of that context.
And so here in America our teachers
tended to be Japanese priests and monks who had been
trained in a monastic setting,. The best of them
have advocated that their successors, people who were
Westerners and steeped in Western culture, should
be the ones to develop the practice in this American
context. And that’s what’s beginning to
The important thing is not the trappings but rather
the meaning, and the meaning has to be approached
by personal experience.
Form is an important aspect
of practice in a Zen center.
And while liturgy and talks are a part
of the form, remember: