Ordinary Mind is the Way. 

Zen practice is the process of learning how to live one's life in accord with the teachings of the Buddha; being awake and aware and cultivating the inherently human qualities of wisdom and compassion.

Where Zen differs from other forms of Buddhist practice is the emphasis on using zazen, or seated meditation, to look into one's own nature. There are thousands of books on Zen and Buddhism, but to practice Zen you don't have to read a single one. The direct experience of reality, and living in accord with this, is available to each one of us at every moment.

The Sarasota Zen Center,  a Sōto Zen Buddhist Temple, is a Florida registered non-profit organization created to support the dissemination and growth of Buddhist Teachings within our communities and to help empower its members through direct participation in its programs. The Sarasota Zen Center community offers a haven of peace and harmony in which to engage in the arduous task of self-discovery through Zen practice. Welcoming diversity, the practice of Zen is available to people of every race, religion, nationality, class, gender, sexual orientation, age, and physical ability.

This is a clip from The Zen Mind documentary, filmed in Japan. It serves as a nice overview of zen - a topic very few people can fully understand.

 

法輪似地東西轉
佛道逢源左右通

The dharma wheel, like the earth, is ever-revolving and never stops;
The teachings of the Buddha can reach everyone, everywhere.

Osho's Welcome message:

 “Vast is the robe of liberation, a formless field of benefaction. I wear the Tathagata’s teachings, saving all sentient beings.”  Osho leading kinhin, walking Zen on Siesta Key beach during sunrise meditation.

“Vast is the robe of liberation, a formless field of benefaction. I wear the Tathagata’s teachings, saving all sentient beings.”

Osho leading kinhin, walking Zen on Siesta Key beach during sunrise meditation.

 

"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is karmic retribution that prevails.”- Oshō

Shu Sho Ichi Nyo: practice and enlightenment are just one.” - Dogen Zenji

The way of Zen is not one of escapism. It is one of living one’s life in the midst of whatever life brings.  A person who wants to learn about Zen must first empty his cup and then let it be filled with the wisdom of those who have already known Zen first hand and with the compassion that comes from Zen’s practice of zazen, silent seated meditation. 

Although we can only truly know Zen when we ourselves have discovered it, we can be led to its discovery by those Zen masters who have already traveled the path to its door. 

Dogen Zenji, the founder of our Sotō Zen school in one his most famous writings known as the Shobogenzo explained that to understand Zen means to have a clear understanding of birth and death. Dogen said that both “life and death is liberation”. By this, Dogen means that one must not be attached to either one’s life or one’s death, nor even to desire to reach liberation. If we live a life free of attachments and desires, we will know a world where there is neither life and death but live in the world of Buddha’s Enlightenment. 

In Zen Buddhism there is a well known scripture (sutra) called “The Diamond That Cuts through Illusion”, or, “Vajracchedika Prajñaparamita” in Sankskrit. Vajracchedika means “the diamond that cuts through afflictions, ignorance, delusion, or illusion.” In Japan, people mostly call it the Diamond Sutra, emphasizing the word “diamond”, but, in fact, the phrase “cutting through” is more important. Prajñaparamita means “perfection of wisdom”, “transcendent understanding,” or “the understanding that brings us across the ocean of suffering to the other shore.” When we study this scripture, meditate upon the essence of it, it enables us to cut through our own ignorance and wrong views and enables us to transcend them, thus transporting ourselves to the shore of liberation. It permits us to live in this world of Enlightenment both Dogen and the Buddha speak of, free from the fears and illusions that can torment us in our daily existence. 

The Buddhist scriptures tell us that Buddha rains down the Buddha Dharma on all beings in all worlds, past, present, and future. There are none that do not have Buddha nature and cannot awaken to supreme bliss.

Though we may not know it, we already possess it. Our Buddha nature is our very existence. Yet, unless we learn to make use of it and put it into daily practice the goal of realizing it, it remains very distant from us. Some people mistakenly believe that they must rely upon the favor or grace of a supreme deity, that we cannot accomplish any good thing of our own efforts. In Buddhism we call this a misguided belief in “other power”. As practitioners working towards awakening to our innate buddha nature we cannot accept this radical dualism of self and other power. The power within each of us, our buddha nature is always both our own power and the power of the Buddha embodied in us.

Our four part vow: to save everyone, to remove all hindrances to awakening, to study all the teachings, and to attain the Buddha way of supreme awakening is what we have devoted ourselves to pursuing through integrating these four bodhisattva vows into our daily life. Indeed, it is a fundamental tenet of our Mahayana Zen Buddhism that we should live a life of helping others- that our very salvation is a matter of sharing the buddha dharma.

Once you truly have the spirit of Zen within you— have caught a glimpse of your true buddha nature, Zen becomes alive within your being,  just as the true form that gives motion to all that is. When the quietness of Zen becomes the moving force of your life, its effect becomes inseparable from all that you do. Your whole behavior will reflect its light, as that of Indra’s Net, just as everything else is touched by the rays of sun as it brings the new day. The sun always rises from the east, sets in the west. Day after day, it never reverses it course. The four seasons follow one another, year after year. Nature follows its laws and rarely deviates from them. Just as water fits into any container, your practice of Zen enables you to take your authentic place in this world.

There is the Japanese Zen saying, “Gan no bi cho ku”. In English, "The true form is for the eyes to be horizontal and for the nose to be vertical." 

When Dogen Zenji returned to Japan from studying Ch’an (Zen) in China people asked him what did come to understand. Dogen’s answer was of the greatest spiritual significance. He answered, “I come home with empty hands.” By this statement Dogen meant to say that Zen is silent-action, it cannot be seem to be caught by mere words or letters. It must be experienced- directly! 

I invite you experience Zen directly for yourself. Every moment is an opportunity to awaken, to become your authentic self and take up your true place in this world we inhabit. 

I encourage you to become a member of the SZC. To dedicate your life to awaken to your true nature and participate in the SZC programs so that you can know yourself, be yourself, help yourself and help others. Please visit the SZC online at www.sarasotazencenter.org  Feel the warmth of our Buddhist Congregation called the sangha. Find the true meaning of your life through living the Dharma (teachings) as taught by the Buddha (the Awakened One) and successive Buddhist teachers. I assure you; their words of wisdom will inspire you and give a new dimension to your life. While you are visiting us online (www.sarasotazencenter.org)  please take advantage of our free monthly newsletter, "MOKURAI: Silence is Thunder!" and please share this with others. 

May peace prevail on earth!

Reverend Daito Zenei ThompsonOsho, Spiritual and Executive Director of the Sarasota Zen Center.