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Thread: Maybe an odd question

  1. #1

    Maybe an odd question

    Hey
    Knowing that Zen sort of ritualistically shies away from ritual, I was wondering if anyone's got any sort of set "ritual" they use in daily practice... particularly ways of offering incense, lighting candles, prayers, etc... or, does everyone sort of "freestyle" with each sitting?

  2. #2
    I can't speak for everyone but I'm all about the freestyle

  3. #3
    I can't speak for everyone but I'm all about the freestyle

    I have been "freestyling," but even so, it takes on a specific form. I guess after spending most of my adult life in uniform, and my childhood in a very staid Church, I crave (maybe even need) the stability and regimen of ritual.
    Any suggestions as to how to do that without 1)making long, drawn out actions the focus and 2)making a silly mockery by filling a time of deliberate emptiness with liturgical overflow?
    I'm sort of looking for a minimalist, happy medium to add to my daily sitting and prayer time.

  4. #4
    I've been treating the room where i sit (tiny bit of bedroom) as though it were a more formal setting so to speak...I enter on the right, left foot first, gassho at the tiny buddhas (a tiny statue and a rock), gassho to the room (either cats, wife, room univerise or any combination of, since they are all one in the same so to speak), sit down on my Zafu, turn to the wall, hit play on the ipod (timer). when all is done i usually gassho, rise fix up my zafu and zabuton, gassho, turn to the right, bow to my partner and doe si doe.. :lol: erm gassho to the buddhas then turn to the rest of the universe and gassho... put out the inscence and leave the room with the same formalities.

    Now that seems kinda long when its written out but its like an extra 2 mins tops and i dont ALWAYS do it.. often i notice the time... spring from the computer, bounce across the bed to the cushion and plunk my butt down as quickly as possible

    Thats just what i do... now and then and its just cuz'
    Freestyle works fine too

    oh ... tonight it will definately be a spring from the computer since im getting past my usual sitting time :B

    Gassho
    Dirk

  5. #5
    I usually do as Krid described but also offer bows and homage to The Buddha, The Dharma, and The Sanga.

    I'm not really into ceremony and ritual too much ( probably due to an enforced catholic education) but when at my meditation group or Throssel Hole Abbey, I do like the singing of scriptures in plain chant (english) and rules for meditation.

    Gassho. Kev

  6. #6
    I use an alarm on my cell phone to time my sittings. When it goes off, I bow to the floor with my hands in a triange shape (mudra?) that represents for me the Triple Jewels (the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha). It's just something I came up with to give my sittings a little formality. I also gassho to my Shakyamuni statue sometimes.


    Gassho,

    Tony

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by KvonNJ
    I have been "freestyling," but even so, it takes on a specific form. I guess after spending most of my adult life in uniform, and my childhood in a very staid Church, I crave (maybe even need) the stability and regimen of ritual.
    Some people do.

    Any suggestions as to how to do that without 1)making long, drawn out actions the focus and 2)making a silly mockery by filling a time of deliberate emptiness with liturgical overflow?
    To be honest, I don't perform any type of ritual at all. When it is time to sit, I sit. No candles, no prostrations, no incense, nothing that sets sitting apart from the rest of the day's activities. Sometimes I use a cushion, sometimes I use a chair, sometimes I stand on the porch, sometimes I take a walk. In my mind it's not really a question of how or when, it's just that one makes the effort to practice.

    I'm quite fond of Jundo's mini sittings(tm). Taking a few moments while standing in line, or stuck in traffic has always been a part of my practice. I don't really think about doing it, I just do it.

    I'm sort of looking for a minimalist, happy medium to add to my daily sitting and prayer time.
    Well that is how I do it. My advice to you is to look at what you do when it's sitting/prayer time and strip away some of the stuff you find to be fluff.

    *shrug* Maybe someone wiser than me could help you more.

    R

  8. #8
    In daily practice at home I stick firmly to the traditional forms described here, except I wear my black adidas robes and I use my Sony Ericksson singing bowl.

    When I meditate in the evening I light candles so I can see the wall. The occasional use of incense is mere Pawlow conditioning: it reminds me of the lokal Soto zendo, hence encourages concentration.

    I believe ritual needs careful dosage: Just enough to prevent you from becoming inattentive. Like entering the zendo with your left foot a lovely gesture that makes a huge difference. Another purpose of rituals is to create a sense of community, so I see no use in becoming overly individualistic in that.

    Regards,
    Mensch

  9. #9
    Hi Guys,

    An old joke says that, if you go to two Zen temples of the very same Lineage, they will each tell you slightly different ways to move the feet and when to bow. Yet, both will insist that what they teach "is how it has been done for a thousand years".

    I think that, in this case, everybody can find their own style at home (Of course, when sitting at one of our Retreats, or visiting another Zen group, do it the way done there ... when in Rome).

    Please find for yourself the right combination (any or all or none) of bows, little chants, incense and candle lighting (the smoke bothers some), placing on your Rakusu, adjusting you Zafu, ringing a bell, doing a dance or singing a song, etc. Such actions can serve several purposes: such as (1) creating a little bridge from our ordinary day-to-day life of mental tumult into the balanced and quiet space; (2) connecting us to the tradition and to all the other folks and ancestors who are supporting us; (3) allowing us to lose our sense of 'separate self' in the body memory of the ritual (there is something freeing about pouring ourselves into a confining, artificial ritual as found in Zen Practice ... much as when we do Oryoki).

    If there are a couple that are almost "madatory", they are fluffing the Zafu (for Zafu maintenance) and bowing to the room or the Zafu (as it allows a degree of gratitude and humility).

    My teacher's traditional way is good, as was linked to

    http://gudoblog-e.blogspot.com/search?q=zabuton

    I also freestyle it a lot. Heck, I am the guy who sometimes sits at McDonald's for the blog sittings, while Leon is playing at their playland (all those 'McSittings' are now lost in cyberspace). I usually just give a brief Gassho to Ronald McBuddha, fold my hands and sit.

    I like Tony's creation of a special bow with hands for the Triple Jewels. It is a perfect example of how new traditions get started.

    So, in conclusion, find what speaks to you, and stick to it. As all things in moderation, no need to do too much or too little. Bow, Gassho etc. etc. the number of times and angle that speak to you! I think.

    Gassho (I really mean that), Jundo

  10. #10
    Ronald McBuddha
    :lol: Can I have this one? We'll call it a fair trade for "pragmystic".
    R

  11. #11
    Thank you all so far for all your input. I appreciate it!

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