What to Expect


Students who are new to the zendo should arrive fifteen minutes early for meditation instructions. Blue Mountain Zendo does offer cushion sets.   If you cannot sit on the floor due to a medical condition, chairs are available. If done properly, sitting in a chair is no different than sitting on the floor. Please leave your personal cushion sets at home.

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. The “value” is in the spirit it is given.

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 to avoid distractions. The bell is struck (dink) after 25 minutes to allow new students the option to stand up and face the wall or adjust their posture. The bell is struck once again 10 minutes later, informing those who are standing to please be seated. The final bell 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 ten minutes. When kinhin is completed, the sangha once again is seated.

Rev.  Ryuun Joriki Baker will then give a Dharma Talk or offer Dharma Interview (one on one) and the service is closed afterwards with a final chant. After the close of the service, informal tea and sweets are served in an inviting atmosphere of questions or comments.

Dharma Interview is the private meeting between the zendo’s teacher and its students. During this time the student and the teacher engage in mondo (Zen Dialog) which is based upon koans or personal process.  Interview is considered a formal meeting so idle talk is inappropriate.

Blue Mountain Zendo nurtures and builds upon the initial spark of awakening. This sacred spark is the catalyst of our spiritual practice. Together with the sangha, we fan the flames of insight and create a forge which burns away attachment and delusion.  In return, this practice reveals our true nature and we begin to awaken. These tools and path are the bone and marrow of the Zen Patriarchs and their descendants. Blue Mountain Zendo is a traditional Rinzai Zen and we nurture this practice not only at the zendo but, in our daily lives.