Jan 23, 2018

How to start Zen?


Edited: Jan 24, 2018

We recommend do as much reading as you can by legitmate authors, that is authors who are Zen teachers and know what they are talking about. Be wary of someone publishing to make a buck of the name Zen, there's quite a few.

It might sound conservative, but try reading some of the old classics, but do so with a pinch of salt - Zen is a life time of training and study, when you think you understand Zen, you don't.

That's not being mystic or elusive, that's just how it is. How long and how hard is it to understand yourself and where you fit in the Universe?


Of course besides reading, attend a temple or Zen centre or sitting group. There is always someone with more experience than you to help you, or even a Zen teacher. Group leaders and Zen teachers are not the same, a Zen teacher is someone who has been training with their own teacher for at least 15 or 20 years if it's a lay person. Monks and Nuns become teachers faster but usually because they are dedicated beyond what a lay person has time to do, same as a University Professor.


Here in this forum you can of course ask us questions but of course there's nothing like attending a Zendo and making a teacher-student relationship, we'll talk more about that in another post


Gassho _/\_ (Compassion)


Jan 24, 2018Edited: Jan 24, 2018

Some of the Teisho given at Jizoan Zen Centre are posted in Youtube, not every talk given is but you can catch quite a few. Of course if you can be face to face it's even better, but if you can't try watching the videos. And of course please support us, we are not some huge global organization, Zen Centres and groups are independent but belonging to this constant tradition which is vehicle for you as well.


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  • Why do we call it training? Well Zen is about engagement with your self, your mind, and others. That's not a simple thing, and first it requires realization that you should, but then what do you do after that? That's the training part. Your ongoing engagement. You can sign up to the gym, but actually to live you need to exercise everyday even just a little. Imagine what would happen if you never left your chair or bed? There are soem people stuck like that for medical reasons - it's not good, you wouldn't want to live like that, and infact in worse cases it leads to organ complications and death, your mind is like that too. You have to exercise it and feed it the right way or you suffer. So this is why we call Zen training. We don't think this is something you do for recreation, this is something you do so you minimize your suffering and other's in the world, and contribute to a better world. If you want to make a better world, please start with yourself. It's a long journey. The world and yourself - take responsibility, has been conditioning you since you were born, you don't just shake that away without effort, fails, disappointments. You have to hang in and train. It's the most important thing in your life actually. If you don't it effects the relationships around you, some of that you can't even see, your work, your happiness and fulfillment Of course it's not easy, like a stream that flows, the bed of the stream has rocks and sand in it. Your life is like that too, it has has disappointments and some times strongly deludes you about yourself even right now. So we call it training. Gassho _/\_ (Compassion)
  • This is the General Ethics Statement used by Australian Zen Studies Institute please read and abide by it on this forum, at the Zendo, and in life. The following advice applies at Jizoan and at any Zen Centre in the world, and at any time and place, please accept this whole heartedly in the spirit in which it is given. Jizoan Zendo is a place where you can create your own life as Bodhisattva practice. Although you are expected to train harmoniously with others at Jizoan, the responsibility lies solely with yourself. There is no one to live your life for you. No one to wipe your arse for you.  Zen is based on eye to eye transmission of the Dharma. It is an unbroken tradition originating with the Historical Tathagata Buddha Sakayamuni, 2500 years ago and transmitted from Ancestor to Ancestor.  Participation in zazen in the group sittings or by one’s self even for 20 years does not authorize you as a Zen Teacher/Master or practice leader. It should be recognized that to become a Zen teacher is a specifically directed vocation dependent on many years of formal study with a Shiso or ‘Dharma father/mother’ and entailing considerable qualification. It is substantially different to becoming a Yoga teacher by Course training for example. A Dharma teacher has embarked on a deeply personal decades long journey of Self that has begun with ‘I am not nor ever will be anyone else’s teacher’ long before their own Shiso has authorized/transmitted them as such, and even that has been followed by more deeply matured doubt.  Participation in a workshop or seminar or talk series does not authorize you to teach that body, similarly as mentioned above.  Your Dharma family is not perfect as human beings are not, but Dharma Wisdom is, the perfecting of Dharma Wisdom however is a lifetime.  Do not slander yourself and others by seeking the faults in others while ignoring your own. Even participating in a single sitting, listening to a single Dharma talk or joining a workshop, seminar etc. is an opportunity to open yourself, but completely dependent on your willingness to develop personal maturity.  Others around you are living breathing beings, with feelings, rights, doubts, faiths, it is not ethical for them to be used, manipulated or preyed upon for self gratification (including, financial, sexual, material, social and ego). Your participation in Zen training in any form must be based on the principle that you are not embarking on gain, anything else is not authentic Zen, or authentic Life. Others around you are living breathing beings, with feelings, rights, doubts, faiths, they are not shadows existing to deliver reward satisfaction to you. Do not be religious, cultivate a spirit of not lingering, including over the Buddhas and thoughts, and in that way true Compassion will force it’s way through even if you try to resist it. Your participation must be based on the Ten Essential Precepts; Not Kill Life, Not Steal, Not be False, Not use Sex for gain, Not use intoxicants, Not Slander others, Not seek self praise, Not to hate, To value the Community, To devote one’s self to Awakening. To represent one’s self falsely, to seek praise, to manipulate others for gain, and make dependent through alcohol, drugs, sex, speech, to turn others against others, is to steal and ultimately Kill life and squander the opportunity to Awaken one’s self in this life Awakening one’s self is the practice of the Bodhisattva way. The Bodhisattva way is; Giving, Kind Speech, Kind Thoughts, and ultimately empathic identification. There is no Buddha, no Zen, no Buddh-ism, that you may say; another ‘Is’ or ‘Is Not’, and therefore I may (give myself permission to), hurt them. The Bodhisattva way is therefore the way of all Human beings beyond name and gain. It is most important is not to use the Buddha Way for your own purposes, but rather to give up your own ideas and through yourself completely into the practice of the way. Just come, just sit, don’t dream of being a teacher to others if you do this a few times. It will not make you a Zen teacher, becoming a Zen teacher is a process of years inwardly focussed on your own training before you ca take responsibility for others. For this you should be clear about the basis of your training and the motive that brings you here. If you expect anything other from your training here than what life at this moment has to offer you, you will be invariably be disappointed. Karmic forces of entanglement have brought you to this place and time to be able to inquire into this moment, do not throw it away and begin another negative selfish cycle from this positive moment. Make sure you know why you want to come here don’t waste your life trying to fool yourself and others. These principles are applied at Perth Zen Centre Jizoan, it is also suffice to say that they are broadly standard throughout all Zen Temples, Centres, Groups, both Rinzai and Soto, and even beyond to other forms of Buddhism. You may bring a pair of shoes, thongs or sandals easy and quick to slip on and off, no foot wear is worn in the Zendo (Meditation hall) during sittings, socks are allowed afterwards. Basic schedule may change from time to time. Zen tradition like all Buddhism does not require special rules such as diet, though any morning and lunch meals served is Shojin ryojin style (no alcohol including vinegar, no dairy, no tube vegetables), a style of Vegan cuisine developed in Zen temples, dinner may include non vegan ingredients in accordance with the Chinese Vinaya rules observed in Zen Centres (worldwide). This in no way means that you must adhere to this tradition except in a Zendo. It is possible to select the food offered and all food should be taken with a spirit of gratefulness, even an accidental piece of meat, and nothing left behind. A Final Ethic to Consider Some things in life do not belong on a supermarket aisle to be ‘tried’, don’t practice from half a heart, jump in whole heatedly. You are being accepted here without judgments so you can practice deeply and others will support you as you do that, so leave your judgments and discriminations behind, it’s what you embarked on to do at heart isn’t it? Gassho _/\_ (Compassion)
  • PLEASE READ FIRST This is an open forum for talking about Zen. Here are the rules, be polite, ask questions, if you feel like answering someone's question yourself remember you are most probably not a Zen teacher so be careful and on that count take advice here with a bit of salt, and give it out the same. Don't forget nothing replaces doing. We are not here to critique other traditions and faiths, a question like I'm a Muslim can I come to a Zen group is OK, but saying something like 'I think Zen is so much better than Islam' is not OK here. Those are discussions to have somewhere else. Please stick to Zen. Please foster Compassion and Understanding. It's no about being PC, it's about Right Speech, Right Thoughts and Right Understanding. Gassho _/\_ (Compassion)
​​© 2018 Australian Zen studies institute