You are the Buddha,
This is the Dharma,
We are the Sangha.
OzZen ORDINARY MIND ZEN SCHOOL
OzZen welcomes all people with a sincere desire to discover for themselves what it means to wake up from the illusion of an independent, separate self. When our identification as this separate self “drops away”, we enter through the gateless gate and experience the wonder of who we already are - a primordial clearing, a no-thing in which we experience the illumination of being as the presencing of all things (beings). This is what Dogen means by:
To study the self is to forget the self.
To forget the self is to be actualised by the myriad things.
OzZen is dedicated to preserving and maintaining, Charlotte Joko Beck and Barry Magid's vision, of an existential, socially-engaged and psychologically-minded approach to Zen practise that can be fully embodied, realised and transmitted in the midst of our everyday life, in this time and place.
Style of Teaching
The teaching is highly pragmatic. It is less concerned with the concentrated pursuit of special experiences than with the development of insight into the whole of life. It favours a slower but healthier, more responsible development of the whole character, in which psychological barriers and emotions are addressed rather than bypassed. It sees practice as working with whatever comes up in our everyday lives, including being in a relationship, family life, the workplace, as well as the formal and structured practice of Zen meditation and practice inquiry.
THE TEACHER-STUDENT RELATIONSHIP
The teacher-student relationship is one of the three foundational pillars of Zen practice, the other two being meditation and community. This is how the teaching has always been transmitted from one generation to the next. However, at the end of the road, Life itself, is the only teacher we need.
Local and distance relationships
Local students can access the teacher-student relationship by attending regular meetings, listening to dharma talks and guided meditations, asking questions about the teaching and participating in practice inquiry in either public or private interviews or both.
Distance students can access the teacher-student relationship by listening to recorded dharma talks, asking questions about the teaching via email, participating in practice inquiry in private interviews and individual guided meditations by phone or skype.
Silence and Stillness
Silence begins with the opening ceremony at the beginning of every sitting and ends with the completion of the closing ceremony. In the Zendo we do our best to maintain silence and stillness. Once settled on your cushion, sit still and do not move (wiggle, fidget, stretch, scratch etc.) until the end of the period. Our practice requires us to maintain stillness in the midst of discomfort, but if you are in intense pain, perform a seated bow and adjust your position as unobtrusively as possible.
In our Zendo we maintain connection to traditional Japanese Zen practice by performing standing bows. We bow with our hands joined in “gassho”. This is an acknowledgement of something beyond "you and I". When doing standing bows we place our hands together and make a 45 degree bow. Bow with hands in gassho whenever you enter the Zendo, bow when arriving at your seat and turn and bow to the other practitioners before sitting down. Bow when distributing or receiving chant handouts.
Leaving The Zendo
If you need to use the bathroom during practice periods the best time is during walking meditation (kinhin). However, if you need to leave during zazen, to go to the bathroom or to attend individual interview with the teacher, make a sitting bow, stand and walk quietly to your destination. On returning, do a standing bow when entering the Zendo, make a standing bow to your seat, turn and do a standing bow to the other practitioners sitting opposite and then resume your sitting meditation.
How to Meditate
"Zazen is not a meditation technique, it is the dharma gate of joyful ease."
- Eihei Dogen
The quote above is how Dogen, a thirteenth century zen teacher, described shikantaza, or "just sitting". What Dogen is pointing at is that Zazen is a complete experience of being for its own sake; it is not a means to an end. An interesting consequence of this is that you can't do zazen right or wrong. All you're going to do is sit, and experience whatever is going on. This means feeling whatever you feel (emotionally or physically), think whatever you think - and just watch. There will be parts of your experience you want to (and try to) avoid and parts you want to (and try to) cling to. Just watch that too. The only other instruction is to sit as still as you possibly can. If you have an itch, let it itch. If your foot falls asleep, let it tingle. If your back hurts, just let it hurt. We're not trying to comfortable, we're just looking into the full range of our experience for its own sake.
Kinhin (Walking Meditation)
In slow kinhin, we match our breath to our footsteps. As you inhale your heel rises and your foot moves forward. As you exhale that foot is planted on the ground and the other begins to rise. Follow the jikido’s (Zendo Leaders) example. Step at your own pace, taking small or large steps, whatever room allows. Do not be concerned with keeping up with the person in front of you in slow kinhin. Keep close to the person in front during fast kinhin.
The Four Practice Principles
The four practice principles are chanted at the end of a practice period or at the end of a day’s sitting. When reciting the principles blend with the group in volume and follow the jikido’s pace:
Caught in a self-centred dream, only suffering.
Waking to a dream within a dream.
Each moment, life as it is, the only teacher.
Being just this moment, compassion’s way.
Dress in Zendo
Dress for comfort in neat casual clothing. Neutral colours are preferred.
Switch phones off or on silent (not vibrating) mode.
ORDINARY MIND ZEN SCHOOL
Charlotte Joko Beck (1917-2011) and her dharma successors have established the Ordinary Mind Zen School, whose purpose is set forth in the following statement:
The Ordinary Mind Zen School intends to manifest and support practice of the Awakened Way, as expressed in the teaching of Charlotte Joko Beck. The school is composed of her dharma successors and teachers and successors they, as individuals, have formally authorised. There is no affiliation with other Zen groups or religious denominations; however, membership in this school does not preclude individual affiliation with other groups. Within the school there is no hierarchy of Dharma Successors.
The Awakened Way is universal; the medium and methods of realisation vary according to circumstances. Each Dharma successor in the School may apply diverse approaches and determine the structure of any organisation that s/he may develop to facilitate practice.
The Successors acknowledge that they are ongoing students, and that the quality of their teaching derives from the quality of their practice. As ongoing students, teachers are committed to the openness and fluidity of practice, wherein the wisdom of the absolute may be manifested in/as our life. An important function of this School is the ongoing examination and development of effective teaching approaches to insure comprehensive practice in all aspects of living.
May the practice of this School manifest wisdom and compassion, benefitting all beings.
Other Ordinary Mind Zen School Centres in Australia
Ordinary Mind Zen School Sydney
Ordinary Mind Zen School Melbourne
Ordinary Mind Zen Brisbane
4/54 Wheatley Street, Bellingen
CWA Hall, 21 Elizabeth Street, Sawtell