What is Zen practice?

A useful definition of Zen is the practice of being present, experiencing fully and doing what needs to be done. The Clare Sangha offers many opportunities for people to learn about and practice Zen.  

Weeknight Zazen

We offer several opportunities per month to practice zazen with members of the community. These evening sessions are comprised of 3 periods of zazen (25 minutes) alternating with kinhin. A basic introduction to zen practice is offered.

Zazenkai (Day of Silent Practice)

 Zazenkais (Day of Silent Practice) are usually on the second Saturday of the month at Towson Unitarian Universalist Church (TUUC). To accommodate out-of-towners, they run from 10am to 5pm, and consist of alternating periods of seated and walking meditation, dharma talk, optional interviews, coffee/tea and rest breaks, lunch, and spiritual circle. Beginning instruction is offered to newcomers, after which they may join in community practice until lunch, or for the rest of the day.

Sesshin

“Sesshin” means “touching the heart-mind.” This is an opportunity to step away from the everyday with intention and to gather together one’s energy to clarify the great matter that is our life and death. Sesshin typically last 3-5 days and are offered several times per year.

Introductory Materials

Useful Links:

Basic Written Instructions on Zen Practice

Brief Instructional Video on Zen Practice from Maria Kannon Zen Center

Brief Video on the Fruits of Zen Practice from Maria Kannon Zen Center

Recommended Reading:

– Taking The Path of Zen, Robert Aitken
– The Three Pillars of Zen, Philip Kapleau
– Everyday Zen, Charlotte Beck
– Infinite Circle, Bernie Glassman
– Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, Shunryu Suzuki
– Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit, Robert Kennedy
– The Mind of Clover, Robert Aitken
– Living Zen, Loving God, Ruben Habito
– Zen The Authentic Gate, Koun Yamada
– Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, Thich Nhat Hanh
– The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation, Thich Nhat Hanh

Dogen Zenji, Founder of the Sōtō School of Zen Buddhism

To study the Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things. To be enlightened by all things is to remove the barriers between oneself and others. — Dogen, Genjokoan, ca. 1238 

These simple but profound words of Zen Master Dogen summarize the spiritual path first demonstrated in the realization experience and life of Shakyamuni-Buddha 2,500 years ago. It is a joyful fact of life that this Way is available to us today. 

Our emphasis in Zen training and practice is on bare attention — simple, direct, non-interfering awareness, non-judging awareness. Students who establish a Zen practice find it opens the Way for them amid their own circumstances and conditions. Practice then becomes its own reward and brings power for guidance.

Learning to center one’s being in the present moment leads onward to the other main benefits of a Zen life. These include awakening to the Way of wisdom and compassion (forgetting the self), then embodying the Way in one’s daily life — a progressive and life-long undertaking. The ZCB intention is to help students have their own direct experience of these benefits.

Practice Opportunities

Zen 108: To encourage practice, Clare Sangha holds a bead ceremony honoring those who do zazen an hour or more for 108 consecutive days. The aim of “Zen 108” is to help members establish a strong home practice; and develop the settling power of concentrated mind (joriki). The encouraging experience of joriki connects with a principal benefit of Zen, the centering of one’s being.

Service 108: The first of the four Great Bodhisattva Vows is, “Sentient beings are numberless, I vow to save them.” Recognizing that service is an essential aspect of the Bodhisattva path, Clare Sangha offers the “Service 108” challenge. Participants commit to completing 108 hours of service. Those who complete this challenge are invited to participate in a bead ceremony in which they are honored by the sangha.

Board of Directors

ZCB is a non-profit organization. Board members and end of term dates are:

Anthony Hoetsu Falcone, President (Dec 2020)

Carl Roji Pohlner, vice-president (Dec 2020)   

 Diana Tenkai Schulin, secretary (Dec 2020)

Mike Doshin Shanahan, treasurer (Dec 2020)

Andy Ryūshin Santanello, Service Opportunities and Website (Dec 2020)

Jon Seichō McCollum, Sesshins (Dec 2020)

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