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Thread: I found a zen center near me.

  1. #1
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    I found a zen center near me.

    Hello everyone,

    I have finally found a Zen center near me! (vistazencenter.com) Of course I don't intend to leave Treeleaf, but I would like the opportunity to get involved in some local practice.

    I emailed the teacher there, and he told me it was the White Plum lineage. Seems fairly similar to our style of practice from reading their website, but if anyone has some information on that group and how they operate, I would appreciate any experiences or advice. I will be doing a bit of study myself, but I feel kind of like I am jumping into a pool without knowing how deep it is.

    I have never been able to sit in a zendo before and I am a little unsure of myself. What is the usual etiquette? How do I refer to the teacher there? Do I bow when I meet him? Do I take off my shoes? Should I show up wearing my rakusu or should I put it on after I arrive? What about my dharma name? Do I use it? I don't have my own zafu... will it be likely for them to have extras? I really have no idea what I'm doing and I feel like a beginner all over again. I am spoiled on home practice. ops: I know a lot of these questions seem silly, but they are running through my head nonetheless.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: I found a zen center near me.

    Do these places take money?

    I feel like such a noob...

  3. #3
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    Re: I found a zen center near me.

    First thing first, don't worry about it. Just go and experience the moment as it is. I have sat a couple of times myself with a group in the White Plum lineage and the only rule I was given was "leave your ego outside with your shoes." They may have an introductory class, going over their own little quirks, but no need. It's zazen after all.

    If they follow the same schedule as the group I have sat with, it's fairly routine. Heart Suttra, followed by 30 minutes of zazen, followed by 10 minutes of kinhin, maybe a dharma talk, followed by more kinhin and more zazen.

    If you see other people taking off their shoes first, take yours off too. Oh and the kinhin line, if you turn and see someones face staring at you, turn around, if you see the back of someones head you're probably going to walk in the right direction.

    Oh, and if they need a donation, they will ask. I have found $5.00 is what's commonly suggested in most zendos. I'm pretty sure they will have a cushion for you as well. But like I said in the first line, don't worry. Just show up.

    Enjoy!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Koshin's Avatar
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    Re: I found a zen center near me.

    Yeah.... enjoy the new experience and do not worry.... I had the same doubts the first couple of times I went to a Zendo... of course I did some things wrong... but anyway, nobody seemed to care, I just made corrections, and everything went well... just watch everything carefully, and follow the person in your side..... besides, if you feel like a beginner....that is wonderful donīt loose that :wink: sometimes the only way to know how deep the pool is, is just jumping into it... happy swimming

  5. #5
    disastermouse
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    Re: I found a zen center near me.

    White Plum is a blended Soto/Rinzai school. They generally reserve Shikantaza for students who have finished Koan practice (in my experience at ZCLA and at Merzel Roshi's center before he stepped down from the priesthood and began teaching only Big Mind (tm) ). Zazen is followed by slow kinhin AND fast kinhin. Again, after a bit of stability in the center, one is generally expected to begin Koan practice tested by Dokusan.

    Chet

  6. #6

    Re: I found a zen center near me.

    Yes, very wonderful! Just go and sit. When encountering a new group, just do as the Romans do.

    White Plum is a mix of Soto and Rinzai traditions, but every group has its own flavor ... I wold be surprised if you noticed many differences from what we do here except in small details. Over the long term, they may encourage Koan Zazen or not, depending on the Teacher.

    It is customary to wear your Rakusu when sitting with another Zen Group, and Jukai and the Rakusu are fully portable! I would be very surprised if someone said not to do so.

    Let us know how it goes!

    You know, back in the day, I was typically sitting with 2 or 3 Sangha that met on different days, including one White Plum group whose Teacher (Doshin Cantor) I consider my mentor.

    Gassho, Jundo

  7. #7
    disastermouse
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    Re: I found a zen center near me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Yes, very wonderful! Just go and sit. When encountering a new group, just do as the Romans do.

    White Plum is a mix of Soto and Rinzai traditions, but every group has its own flavor ... I wold be surprised if you noticed many differences from what we do here except in small details. Over the long term, they may encourage Koan Zazen or not, depending on the Teacher.

    It is customary to wear your Rakusu when sitting with another Zen Group, and Jukai and the Rakusu are fully portable! I would be very surprised if someone said not to do so.

    Let us know how it goes!

    You know, back in the day, I was typically sitting with 2 or 3 Sangha that met on different days, including one White Plum group whose Teacher (Doshin Cantor) I consider my mentor.

    Gassho, Jundo
    I just read what I wrote and in hindsight, it sounds negative. That wasn't my intention.

    It's my understanding in reading about the lives of some Zen teachers that students were actually encouraged to sit with other groups at various times.

    All that said, it's only Treeleaf and Dharma Field that I've come in contact with that have advocated Shikantaza from the beginning (or very near the beginning in the case of Dharma Field).

    Chet

  8. #8

    Re: I found a zen center near me.

    Amelia, don't worry. Relax and give them the gift of allowing them to be nice to and share with a newcomer!

    Most organizations, zen or otherwise religious, love to welcome newcomers. I used to go to all sorts of different churches, never having a clue, and was always graciously and kindly accepted--even in the Catholic church I attended, which was all about ritual. I won't tell you how I messed up communion there! : )

  9. #9

    Re: I found a zen center near me.

    I guess I should tell you about the time I went to a new Buddhist temple (before I had any knowledge about Buddhism or its history) to welcome them into our neighborhood and tried to shake a monk's hand in welcome! Three other male members rushed over to intercept and offer their hands instead! : ) But still, all were very nice. I think they were more embarrassed than I was! Of course, not the place for me, being the feminist that I am--but still they were nice. So don't worry! : )

  10. #10

    Re: I found a zen center near me.

    Good luck Amelia - lovely to have a centre near - let us know how you get on.

    Gassho

    Willow

  11. #11
    Senior Member Ekai's Avatar
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    Re: I found a zen center near me.

    Just relax and be yourself. This sounds like it could be good practice for you. Let us know how it goes.

    Gassho,
    Ekai

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui Daido's Avatar
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    Re: I found a zen center near me.

    Ive sat Zazen at Hazy Moon in Los Angeles which is also White Plum. Great learning experience sitting with a group. Such a different dynamic. I felt a little uncomfortable at first but got over it quick. Just jitters. As Jundo says no issues with rakusu although color means rank in this lineage and mine (brown) was the color of a master :shock: . They didnt say I word. I asked when I saw the sensei wearing the same color and they said no problem at all. Vista Zen is about 70 miles from me. Maybe Ill try to go sometime too. We can have a Treeleaf delegation.

    Daido

  13. #13

    Re: I found a zen center near me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia
    Do these places take money?

    I feel like such a noob...
    Is that how you spell noob? I always thought it was newb, but noob is so much better.

    Anyway, wonderful. Enjoy and please give us updates!

  14. #14

    Re: I found a zen center near me.

    Gassho Amelia,
    thats good news,
    Myoku

  15. #15

    Re: I found a zen center near me.

    Exciting!
    Have fun!! (heh you know what I mean )

    Gassho
    Shohei

  16. #16

    Re: I found a zen center near me.

    Quote Originally Posted by alan.r
    Quote Originally Posted by Amelia
    Do these places take money?

    I feel like such a noob...
    Is that how you spell noob? I always thought it was newb, but noob is so much better.

    Anyway, wonderful. Enjoy and please give us updates!
    n0000000bz!

  17. #17
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: I found a zen center near me.

    Cool! Keep us posted. I'd love to hear about your experiences there

  18. #18
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: I found a zen center near me.

    Thank you all for your advice. I'll be rereading your posts and perhaps asking more questions in the next couple of days. I know that when I finally go, it will work out more smoothly than I imagine. That's how things are.

  19. #19

    Re: I found a zen center near me.

    Its good practice. Maybe you'll make some new friends.

  20. #20

    Re: I found a zen center near me.

    Hello Amelia,

    sounds like an interestig opportunity at any rate. Just check it out and take it from there would be my advice. In a lot of ways I think different lineages and/or different teachers all have different styles and a different "scent" to them...if somehting rubs you the wrong way repeatedly and gives you a bad gut feeling, just stay away.

    What is wrong for oneself might be very right for others btw., I personally have yet to have a truly pleasant experience with the AZI (the biggest Soto-Zen organisation in Europe) for example, and I don't hide the fact that I find that the (to me) pseudo-strictness combined with a prussian lack of humour is not for me. At the same time I praise their sewing skills and the great commitment of many of their individual members, but I just know that my own Zen future is not very likely to feature the AZI as an organisation. For others it's pure heaven.

    All I am trying to say is that we should always be careful not to judge others in an ultimate sense, but at the same time to be honest and open why certain things don't work out for ourselves. I told the few regulars at my local Zen group that I'd never think "Ooh, I lost XYZ to the AZI", should anyone go to their Dojo, but that I'd be happy for them instead if the AZI approach suited them more than the Treeleaf influenced flavour I am offering them once a week.

    Just check it out and see what happens

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen

  21. #21

    Re: I found a zen center near me.

    Good luck!

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