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The Rich Tradition of Soto Zen Practice

Soto Zen is an old tradition with many different practices. You can participate in whatever practices that are useful to you, with no expectation that you will want to participate in them all. Soto Zen practices include:

  • Zazen (seated meditation) and Kinhin (slow walking meditation)
  • Mindfulness (cultivating awareness and attention in the midst of activity)
  • Sangha (community – practicing together and building community through financial and moral support, and by working together)
  • Morality (a central Zen teaching is that there is no real separation between self and other; you cannot inflict harm on others without hurting yourself, or at the very least disturbing your own mind and body)
  • Karma Work (getting to know your own body and mind intimately; understanding and working with habits)
  • Cultivating Insight (fundamentally, the truth is liberating, whether you are talking about a personal or universal truth)
  • Letting Go of Attachments (attachments are things you have “attached” to your self-concept, or made a possession of self)
  • Study of Buddhist & Zen Teachings (the true nature of self, emptiness, your naturally enlightened nature, cause-and-effect)
  • Application of Zen to Daily Life (practicing with relationships, work, hopes, fears, challenges)
  • Meditation Retreats and Sesshin
  • Taking the Precepts and formally becoming a Buddhist
  • Working with a Zen Teacher in Sanzen or Practice Discussion
  • Formalizing the Teacher-Student Relationship
  • Chanting (reciting or chanting Zen or Buddhist teachings out loud – click here to read the chants we do)
  • Ritual and Ceremony (engaging in the various “forms” of Zen – click this link to read Domyo’s essay Conformity and Freedom)

All of these aspects of Soto Zen are described at length in Domyo’s book, Zen Living. In the tradition of Dharma Rain Zen Center, Bright Way Zen offers the Dharma (teaching) and participation in the Sangha (community) openly and without expectation; the “Dharma Rain” falls equally on all plants, from herbs to trees, and each organism takes up what it needs. If you simply want to attend meditation with us and never take part in the other things we offer, you are most welcome and will be a valued part of our community. For those who are interested, however, there are countless aspects to the Soto Zen religious tradition to investigate.