Zen Practice in SLO
The San Luis Obispo Zazen Group meets weekly on Thursday evenings to practice zen together. The group has been together for over ten years. We are affiliated with the Zen Center of Los Angeles (ZCLA), a Buddhist training center founded by Maezumi Roshi in 1967 in the Soto Zen lineage. Our meditation practice is zazen (sitting meditation).
New members or visitors should make an appointment for an introductory training session. Held at 6:15, an hour before our regular sitting, the session covers the basics of zazen and our zendo procedures in order to help new participants feel comfortable with the program.
Everyone is welcome and no prior experience is required. There is no cost to attend, but dana (a small donation) is appreciated.
Our Practicing Together page covers procedures in our zendo, including bowing, service, and kinhin (walking meditation). Zen procedures may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but don't be put off. We are a pretty laid back group and it’s easy to pick up the routine over time and by watching others.
If you have your own zafu (meditation cushion) it’s best to bring it. However, zafus, seiza benches, and chairs are available, should you need them, as well as plenty of zabutons (the floor mats under the cushions).
We begin at 7:15 with a short service, followed by two thirty minute periods of zazen, with five minutes of walking meditation (kinhin) in between. After the meditation periods there is a break for tea, and sometimes cookies, followed by time for discussion, book study, listening to a pre-recorded talk, or sutra copying.
In the past we have studied such works as Kosho Uchiyama Roshi's Opening the Hand of Thought, Yoel Hoffmann's Japanese Death Poems and Pema Chodron's No Time to Lose, her commentary on Shantideva’s The Way of the Bodhisattva.
More recently we used Stephen Levine's A Year to Live as a workbook for living a hypothetical final year of life, studied the Heart Sutra, one of the essential texts of Zen Buddhism, and enjoyed Norman Fischer's Training in Compassion: Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong. We are currently reading Red Pine's translation of the Tao Te Ching.
Thursday evenings at Crows End Retreat Center:
New participants should arrange an introduction to Zen practice with Shōgen, the coordinator of our group, prior to attending a Thursday night meeting.
Mark Shōgen Bloodgood
San Luis Obispo Zazen Group Coordinator