Zen students who are new to the zendo should arrive fifteen minutes early for meditation instructions. Blue Mountain Zendo does offer cushion sets; however, it is a good idea to obtain a personal set if possible. Having your own set will allow you the opportunity to sit both with the sangha (group) as well as alone when at home or work, however, please leave these sets home. Also to note, if you cannot sit on the floor due to a medical condition, chairs are available. If done correctly, sitting in a chair is no different than sitting on the floor.
An offering for the temple is traditional for those visiting for the first time. This offering is symbolic of the “open” and “giving” nature of the new student and his/her recognition of the value of the teachings.
During Zazenkai (Extended Zen Service) the han (wooden block) is struck for the first time to start the beginning of the service. The ino then announces the first chant and the service begins. We chant in both Japanese, Pali and English to show respect to Zen’s roots and lineage. After the last chant, kinhin or walking meditation begins which will be repeated at various times during the service. The bell is struck and the sangha sits down to begin zazen (seated meditation) practice. During Zazen we become, and remain still throughout the round while watching our breath or working on our Koan. Our eyes become half closed and focused downward to the floor in front of us to avoid distractions. The bell is struck (dink) after 25 minutes and to allow new students the option to stand up and face the wall or adjust their posture. The bell is struck once again after 10 minutes, informing those who are standing to please be seated. The final bell struck is at the 40 minute mark to signal the cessation of the sitting round.The sangha then does walking meditation or Kin-hin which will last for fifteen minutes. When kinhin is completed, the sangha once again is seated.
To conclude, Rev. Joriki Dat Baker will then give a Dharma Talk and the service is closed with chanting. After the close of the service, tea and sweets are served in the kitchen; during this time, questions or comments may be posed in a relaxed atmosphere.
On the second Sunday of each month, Dharma Interview will replace the Dharma Talk. Dharma Interview is the private meeting between the zendo’s teacher and its students. Moreover, it is a formal meeting and idle talk is inappropriate.
Blue Mountain Zendo and its sangha have evolved over the past 14 years into a unique expression of the dedication, insight, karuna and the perseverance of its members. Blue Mountain Zendo nurtures and builds upon the initial spark of awakening which occurs as the catalyst for our awakening process, and together with the sangha, forges a personal path which reveals the true source of that rudimentary spark. This revealed path is the bone and marrow of the Zen Patriarchs. Blue Mountain Zendo is true to traditional Rinzai Zen form, and offers traditional liturgy, koan practice, ceremony, dokusan, zazen, intensity and discipline.