Attending a Zendo?

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OcTavO
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Attending a Zendo?

Postby OcTavO » Wed Jun 02, 2010 7:03 pm

Hello all,

For the past few years I've been more drawn to Theravada than to any of the other branches of Dhamma study. I like its sense of authenticity and (I hope I don't get into trouble for saying this) it's no BS approach.

However there is only one Theravadin Wat in my area and after looking into it, I believe it is largely a community of monastics with very few, if any, lay practitioners in attendance. As with most towns though, there is an abundance of Zen centers here with open doors to the public. I've found a popular zendo in the Soto tradition and I'm attending the introductory session tonight.

I don't know a lot about Zen. I know the Soto school is focused around the teachings of Dogen. I know that Zazen is quite different from Theravadin Vipassana. I'm guessing the ceremonies and rituals are hugely different, stemming from Japanese culture. So I'm not sure what to expect and I'm not sure how well Zen practice can fit alongside Theravadin self-study. Does anyone here have experience with the two practices side-by-side? Are they supportive of each other? Detrimental to each other? Is there any "bad-blood" as it were?

Any thoughts/suggestions are welcome! Thanks!

~OcT

Shonin
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Re: Attending a Zendo?

Postby Shonin » Wed Jun 02, 2010 7:29 pm

I'm in an interesting place right now. I've been practicing Soto Zen for over 8 years and was discussing the possibility of becoming a monk. My practice has shifted over the last 18 months and although I still practice Soto Zen, I now do Koan practice with a Rinzai teacher and I'm close to finishing my training as a MBCT teacher (which uses meditations derived from the Vipassana tradition). I'm also increasingly drawn the coherence and clarity of Pali Buddhism. I feel drawn back to the origins right now.

As for the compatibility of Soto and Theravada, Shikantaza-style zazen is an exellent method of meditation - great for cultivating equinamity, and insight into anicca, dukkha and anatta. And the core principles are the same - four noble truths etc, although they may not appear in that formulation. Other aspects of Soto doctrines you might not find so helpful or compatible, however in Zen there is a great deal of emphasis on meditation. As for rituals, that's just mindfulness in motion - best not get hung up on one form over another.

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Agent
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Re: Attending a Zendo?

Postby Agent » Wed Jun 02, 2010 7:41 pm

I recently moved and am now in a similar situation except I don't even have a Wat nearby. Has the Wat said they do not offer any services that involve laity? Since monks are dependent on the lay community I would think they would have some sort of teaching or meditation opportunity for lay people. But perhaps they don't have any english speaking monks?

I have attended a Zen group nearby (it was more of an informal group, not a Zendo). I decided to go because I think it can be beneficial to meditate with a group even if it's not your specific tradition. I did find the rituals a bit odd and, although I think Zen and Theravada often talk about the same things, I found the language to be very different. I appreciate the discussions and advice of Zen practitioners but I feel like I have to filter and interpret it to make it apply to my meditation. I'm just not very interested in doing that, personally. I much prefer practicing with people of the same tradition.

I explained that my tradition is Theravada and that did not seem to be a problem so I don't think there's any bad blood, at least in this group. That said, I had to kind of hold back in the dhamma discussion afterward since I'm not very familiar with Zen and didn't want to be disruptive to what they're trying to teach by throwing in a bunch of Theravada concepts or arguing that "that's not what the suttas say." That would probably lead to some bad blood, haha.

It's nice to have the support of a community that also practices the Dhamma, albeit a different brand, so I will probably continue to attend on occasion (although it's a 2hr drive round trip, so I'm not really that thrilled about it).
Vayadhammā saṅkhārā appamādena sampādethā.

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Re: Attending a Zendo?

Postby Mukunda » Wed Jun 02, 2010 8:00 pm

There is not a Theravadin temple or center in my immediate area. The nearest ones are hours away. In support of my practice, I'm active in both a Gelug Dharma center and a lay Soto Zen sitting group. The Dharma center has a resident Geshe providing excellent teachings, but I'm not really into all the ritual. So I go to classes and consult with Geshela when needed, but don't participate in most religious services. Every one seems cool with that, including Geshela. I sit with the Soto Zen group because I find group meditation sessions provides a great deal of support to my practice, I really admire the focus on practice, and the ritual is at a minimum (a few bows and chanting the Heart Sutra). Once again, every one seems cool with me preferring the Theravada.

As far as the difference between meditation techniques, who, besides yourself, is going to know you are doing vipassana as opposed to shikantaza?
:anjali:

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Re: Attending a Zendo?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:31 pm

Greetings OcTavO,

However there is only one Theravadin Wat in my area and after looking into it, I believe it is largely a community of monastics with very few, if any, lay practitioners in attendance.

Assuming they speak English, this sounds like an absolutely golden opportunity.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Dan74
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Re: Attending a Zendo?

Postby Dan74 » Thu Jun 03, 2010 1:06 am

I think it is fantastic that people take every opportunity to practice. There is a lot of Dhamma/Dharma around if one is open to it, and sitting with different groups can not only support one's practice but once it has taken root, be an eye-opener in terms of the breadth and depth of Dhamma.
_/|\_

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Re: Attending a Zendo?

Postby jcsuperstar » Thu Jun 03, 2010 6:40 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings OcTavO,

However there is only one Theravadin Wat in my area and after looking into it, I believe it is largely a community of monastics with very few, if any, lay practitioners in attendance.

Assuming they speak English, this sounds like an absolutely golden opportunity.

Metta,
Retro. :)

psssh, english is overrated. show up with some food in the morning and you'll be fine.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: Attending a Zendo?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jun 03, 2010 6:45 am

Greetings JC,

jcsuperstar wrote:psssh, english is overrated. show up with some food in the morning and you'll be fine.

Oh sure, I have no doubt "you'll be fine", but it's certainly a lesser opportunity if you and the monks cannot speak in a shared language.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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OcTavO
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Re: Attending a Zendo?

Postby OcTavO » Thu Jun 03, 2010 4:10 pm

Assuming they speak English, this sounds like an absolutely golden opportunity.


Thanks Retro. Yep, sorry I forgot to mention that they don't speak English. :-(


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