How to do Zazen

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​道元禅師

When we read the books Dogen Zenji(The Rev.Dogen)  wrote, we often think that his thoughts or teachings seem to be  profound and incomprehensible. But in reality what he tells are very simple and clear.

All human beings are originally Buddhas (existence of absolute peace), but even if they do nothing and live lazily, they cannot get away from their worries and sufferings.

It was explained that Zazen is the best way to be aware of the Buddha inside, in other words, it is a way to turns on the switch of Buddha.

His disciple, The Rev. Keizan, further extends it and tells about  the importance of spending all of the daily life, such as eating and having tea, as Buddha we are aware of while doing Zazen.

 

Zazen is the most reassuring method(the dharma gate of joyful ease) for all and the best practice to guide everyone in this confused and stressful society to a path of peace.

 

But we can recognize that only by experiencing it by yourself. Why don't you actually do Zazen and check the truth?

 

For those who want to do Zazen but don't have much time, or who want to start at home for the time being, we will introduce a simple Zazen method that you can do at home. Please, try it.

Find a quiet place

 

  • Prepare cushions or other items suitable for Zazen (best if you have a Zafu for Soto Zen), or you can use a chair.

  • Relax your body and soul. You can also do a light stretch.

 

 

Let's sit down!

 

There are three important things in zazen.

They are  preparing and adjusting the body, breathing and mind.

Preparing and adjusting your body

  • Zazen begins with Gassho and ends with Gassho. Sit down on a folded cushion, chair, etc. If possible, sit against the wall to block the outside world. (Surface wall)

Gassho -praying with hands together-

  • Stretch your back and cross your legs. Crossing both legs is called Kekkafuza(full-lotus position), and crossing one leg is called Hankafuza(half-lotus position). There is no particular rule for the chair, but let's sit carefully not to open or not to close your legs too much. 

Kekkafuza -Full lotus  Position-

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Hankafuza -Half lotus Position-

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Seiza (sitting on the heels) with cusion

Using a chair(the front view)

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Using a chair (the side view)

You should sit with care.

  • The next, sway the upper half of your body from left to right a few times. At first this movement should be large, gradually becoming smaller and smaller, and ceasing with your body centered in an upright position. and stop.

Body swaying -ceasing the center-

  • Place your right hand in front of your navel, palm-up, on your left foot, and your left hand palm-up on your right palm.The tips of your thumbs should be lightly touching each other. This is called "Hokkai-Join" (the Cosmic Mudra ).

Hokkai-Join -The Cosmic Mudra-

  • Keep your eyes slightly open, Cast them downwards. Keep your mouth closed, placing your tongue against the roof of your mouth just behind your teeth. Breathe quietly through your nose.

Preparing and adjusting your breathing

First, exhale all the air in your abdomen slowly and deeply, and inhale through your nose, By doing this several times, you will experience natural abdominal breathing. After that, slowly, not too long and not too short, naturally perform abdominal breathing that is suitable your body.

 

 

 

Preparing and adjusting your mind

The mind is to think with the head. Basically, please do not think about various things as much as possible. When various thoughts comes to your mind, don't catch up them. Try to be as innocent as possible.

How long ? When?

First, try it in a short time such as five minutes or so, As you getting used to do,let's gradually extend it to 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.

You can do zazen at any time, but it's good to get up a little earlier in the morning and to do zazen without being disturbed by anyone. The birdsong or y the rising sun brings you a wonderful day.. It is also recommended that you do before going to bed at night to refresh your head and get a good sleep. Of course it would be better to do both.

 

Once you get used to zazen at home, please come to the temple to join zazen day and sit down with us.

You will surely meet friends who like zazen like you.

Genzo-e (for those who want to learn zazen more deeply)

We have a training camp "Genzo-e"  where we learn "Shobogenzo", the best work of Dogen Zenji( The Rev. Dogen). His teachings are too difficult and profound to understand by intellectually. In order to get in touch with his thought, you must live a life centered on zazen, which is the basis of the teaching. At Koryuji Temple, we invite a teacher who is an expert in Shobogenzo once a year to hold a study session on accommodation meditation with general meditation people to further study. We are sorry that this lecture is in Japanese, But if you are good at Japanese, Let's join us.

 

 

 

Group Zazen Meetings

 

In response to the requests from various groups, we have held many Zazen  sessions, such as zazen sessions for elementary and junior high school students, zazen training for students of Hokkaido University of Education, Zazen meetings for the members of Junior Chamber International and training camps for various sports groups.

The advanced consultations are required, so if you want to hold such meetings,please apply to us in advance.

 

 

 

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Koryuji Zazen Day

It is held at our temple Yanagawa Branch Office from 3 pm to 4:30 pm on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of every month. In the way of Soto-Zen Buddhism,at some times we do it strictly, and at some times we are relaxed with a cup of tea during breaks. If you are interested, please come and visit us anytime. No reservation or fee is required.  For beginners, we will carefully teach you how to do zazen and how to sit. We are waiting for you.

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The Word from The Rev. Dogen

 

"The Zazen I speak of is not meditation practice. It is simply the dharma gate of joyful ease, the practice realization of totally culminated enlightenment."