Zen Practicum 2023
Join us for an orientation to the fundamentals of Zen practice
Dates: March 18th 9:30am - 4:30pm AEDT
Where: Right where you are (online via zoom)
/ˈpraktɪkəm/ a practical section of a course of study.
Beginner’s mind’ is the treasure of Zen. It means arriving fresh, alert, intelligent and undazzled to each moment of awareness, bringing nothing or as little as possible with you in the way of baggage, opinions, preferences or preconceptions. In the mind of an ongoing beginner, the world lies radically open.
This series of orientation are for anyone wishing to sharpen their understanding of the fundamentals of Zazen (seated meditation), Kinhin (walking meditation), the formalities that support practice in a Zazen setting, the moral and ethical ground of Zen, and the qualities that characterise and cultivate an awakening mind.
Roshi Susan Murphy
Sensei Kynan Sutherland
9.30-10 Offline: Zazen
10.00-12.00 Online: What is Zazen, and why is there Zen ‘form’?
What is not-knowing mind, koan, Zen realization?
12.00 Off-line: Lunch break
1-1.30 Optional online ‘clinic’ for people beginning Zen practice: questions about posture, etc.
1.00-2.00 Off-line: Private sitting and walking
2.00-4.00 Online: Taking the Way of Zen.
What are the bodhisattva vows?
The ethos and character of Zen.
Taking Part in the Gathering (Term 1)
The first Taking Part in the Gathering for the year
Autumn Term, 2023 (March-May)
Five Dates: 1st & 3rd Sunday 4:00-5:30 AEDT
March 5th & 19th, April 2nd & 16th, May 7th
'The Character of Zen' The opening TPITG for the year will be an exploration of our practice and our lives in the light of the Six Paramitas. When Robert Aitken Roshi asked his teacher, Yamada Koun Roshi, ‘What is the purpose of Zen?’ Yamada responded, ‘The purpose of Zen is the perfection of character.’ He made no mention of ‘satori’, or ‘enlightenment’, but is this expression of Zen in any way remote from the more usual ‘to realize and express your true nature’? Let’s find out.
The Sanskrit word ‘paramita’ is usually rendered as ‘perfection’, which may imply at first glance a completed state of some kind. The word ‘enlightenment’ can fall into the same trap. But the human reality of any perfect ideal is a verb, not a noun -- a process of ‘becoming like this’, a path of becoming skilled, one that naturally discovers how much more there is to realise as you proceed. The path of consciously shaping our own character turns out to be the one that discovers who we really are. It is the singular freedom of human beings that we can choose and shape our way of being within whatever prevailing circumstances we cannot choose or fully control, as well as the conditions we can and do create.
The Six Paramitas open up this path of perfecting character. They’re known as:
Dana (generosity, giving of oneself); Sila (morally-inflected behaviour); Kshanti (patience, tolerance, forbearance); Virya (energy, strength, stickability); Dhyana (meditation, self-reflection, not-knowing); and Prajna (unbounded emptiness-wisdom). Unsurprisingly, just like we ourselves, the paramitas are each found reflected and realised more deeply in each other -- but singling them out is first step to discovering this in detail. I hope you’ll join us for this walk we’re planning to begin into the compelling mystery of character.