Deepening your practice
A FEW TIPS FOR VENTURING FURTHER
In order for the practice of zen to progressively infuse every aspect of our lives, it must be long-lasting. Since the way of zen is not always easy, here are a few useful tips to help you.
It is preferable to go to the dojo on a regular basis (always on the same day, if possible), to develop consistency in your practice. Over time, it will become natural, and will no longer require an act of will.
JOINING A SANGHA, FINDING A TEACHER
The word sangha means community of practitioners. The dojo is a sangha. Broadly speaking, sangha can also refer to a group of individuals who practice under the leadership of a spiritual teacher. Joining a sangha or a group is a great help on the path of zen.
So is meeting a spiritual teacher. Having walked the way for many years, they are able to guide practitioners. The teacher doesn’t get involved in the lives of his disciples, but he can help them in difficult times, when they have doubts or existential questions. The International Zen Association’s teachers, men and women, followed Master Deshimaru’s teaching (or that of his successors) before starting to teach. They meet regularly to discuss, share their experiences and grow together.
Retreats are called sesshins. During a sesshin, the focus is on sitting meditation. It’s the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in zen spirituality.
Beginners are always welcome and receive special attention.
The days follow a strict schedule, alternating between zazen, ceremonies, samu and meals, usually taken in silence.
This structure allows the participants to allow themselves be guided, freed from the necessity of organising their life, they can put all their energy into zazen.
Certified teachers provide instruction during the sesshins and can answer your questions during mondos (question and answer periods) to help you further your understanding of Zen Buddhism. Sesshins last on average 2 to 9 days.
You can find a list of upcoming sesshins HERE