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We encourage people to establish and maintain a home practice including the practices of Zazen, Chanting, Samu. Eating and Walking meditation. Home practice is the essential foundation of a Zen life. We should practice to be aware that time and place are constructs, “projections” as the Buddha would say. It is up to us to see through them and to manifest ourselves as directly as possible in each moment. Consider the space around you. How can you make it conducive to mindful living? Make your space beautiful. It is the space you live in.
It seems we often feel we never have enough time to practice. Think about that. From a Zen perspective, all of life is practice, so when is it we do not have time to live? We always have time to meditate. When walking, when sitting, when eating: eat offers an opportunity to practice mindfulness. Going to the bathroom, we can simply sit on the commode a few minutes longer. It is not that we don’t have time, it’s that we waste our time in being asleep through many, many moments of our very precious lives.
We believe we should practice Zazen twice a day, at best, once a day if twice is not possible. Find a space, and just sit. There is an old saying, “Five minutes Zazen, five minutes Buddha. One minute Zazen, one minute Buddha. Just sit: no excuses.
We create an altar by simply defining a space and placing objects in it. A Zen altar typically has a Buddha or Bodhisattva, a flower or plant, an incense burner, a water offering, and a candle. Of course you should make your altar your own. Perhaps you have a photograph of someone or something that inspires you to live peacefully or mindfully? Remember, an altar supports your practice, but it is a prop, none-the-less.
Vast is the robe of liberation
A formless field of benefaction.
I wear the Tathagatha’s teaching
Liberating all sentient beings.
Gatha on Opening the Sutra
The Dharma, incomparably profound and minutely subtle,
Is rarely encountered in hundreds of thousands of kalpas.
We can now see it, hear it, receive and maintain it;
May we understand the Tathagatha’s true meaning.
I shave my head that I may
See how by freeing
Myself from attachments
I am released from suffering.
This morning I vow with all beings
To see the world clearly
As it is, to end violence
And bring compassion to all beings.
This evening, as I go to sleep,
May all beings rest deeply
And be renewed through peace and love.
Verse of the Kesa
Dai sai ge dap pu ku,
Mu so fu ku den e
Hi bu nyo rai kyo
Ko do sho shu jo
Gatha on Opening the Sutra
Mu jo jin jin myo ho
Hyaku sen man go nan so gu.
Ga kon ken mon toku ju ji
Gan ge nyo rai shin jitsu gi.
Verse for Shaving the Head
Ru ten gan gai chu on nai fu no
O dan ki on nyo mu I shin ji tsu
Ho on sha tei jo sho hat su to gan shu jo
Yo ri bon no ku kyo an ra ku.
We reflect on the effort that brought us this food—
And consider how it came to us.
We reflect on our virtue and practice—
And consider whether we are worthy of this offering.
We regard greed as an obstacle to freedom of mind.
We regard this meal as medicine to sustain our life.
For the sake of Enlightenment we now receive this food.