Monday, October 21, 2013

Thoughts on Zendo Etiquette Forms

A koan asks, "The world is vast and wide.  Why do you put on your 7-piece robe at the sound of the bell?"  Why do we have guidelines for practice forms in Boundless Way Zen? 

One of the answers to this question lies in the nature of the heart-mind, which is like a fire, uncontained.  Practice and its forms help us to create a container for this fire, which then becomes a form of energy that helps us to see more clearly and act with compassion. 

Another answer lies in the way we encounter each other as a Sangha, a community of persons of the Great Way.  We are all meeting the world through our own particular, ego-centered viewpoint.  In following forms, we bow and surrender to something greater than our small view.  We allow ourselves to feel the support of others in the community, and learn to act as one body, for the sake of all beings, not just for our own selfish needs. 

Yet another view of surrendering to practice forms lies in the teachings of one of our ancestors, Eihei Dogen, who encourages us to see our life of practice and the forms of practice as one.  When we bow, our awakened nature is bowing.  When we walk, our awakened nature is walking. 

Our forms are meant to be guidelines, not rigid rules.   They are intended to contain, unify and express our practice.  Zen is not about right and wrong, but about learning the true meaning of being human. 

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