Wednesday, 12 May 2010

University zazenkai yesterday.

There is a zazenkai open to the public on the second Tuesday of every month at the Soto Zen university I teach at, and I went there yesterday. It was the second time I've been, the first time being well over a year ago, maybe two. I should point out that I don't teach in the Zen faculty, but in the English language faculty. It is a standard university, with history, maths, computer and language faculties amongst others. It just happens to be run by the Soto Zen sect.


The zendo is quite grand, as is the campus in general. Some day I'll take photos of it and post them here so you can get a pictorial idea to go with my posts. The tan are two seats deep, which means two people can sit facing the wall. Well, one faces the wall while the other faces the back of the person who is facing the wall, if you get what I mean. Yesterday, however, we were only sitting one deep. There is seating for over fifty people when sitting one deep. For over one hundred when the tan are full. It's a big zendo. There are usually around four monks in attendance, with one or two lay practitioners there as well. One lay practitioner (a university lecturer) was giving instruction to some new sitters.

Yesterday, with everyone sitting only one person deep, we were all facing a zafu, rather than the wall. The last time I tried this I found that I could lose the distraction of sight more easily than usual. A zafu can become a black hole of sorts! We sit for thirty minutes and then do kinhin and then a futher thirty minutes sitting. A sutra is chanted and then the gongs and drums are beaten, and that brings the sitting to an end. I'm hoping to sit there again this Friday, but alone this time as it's not a formal zazenkai. I'll try to get photos then.

I haven't finished the post about Eiheiji, as some of you have noticed and mentioned. I lost the desire to do so as I was concerned that I was telling more a travel-log that a proper account of a sesshin. I thought I'd just let it drop. I'm planning to return to Eiheiji this year in August for another four day sesshin. Next time I'll take a proper dairy of the sesshin and give a more detailed and appropriate account.

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