In the past month or so, I’ve been participating in two Buddhist groups: one Jodo Shinshu (the temple in Seattle) and an online Zen sangha that’s pretty well-known.
I talked about going to the local Jodo Shinshu temple a while back when I talked about ordination. Both my kids attend the Dharma School there (like Sunday School but with a Buddhist context) and my wife likes Jodo Shinshu, so it works well for all of us. Plus, I’ve made some progress toward ordination (though it will take 3-4 years at this rate), and I am happy about that. I feel more confident about it than my struggles in the past.
Meanwhile, I’ve started exploring Soto Zen (曹洞宗, sōtō-shū) as well. It started around the time I wrote this post. I wanted to attend the nearby Rinzai temple I visited before, but as a father of two kids, the times and the membership fees just wouldn’t work. So, I almost gave up, but then I found a certain online Zen sangha that is well-known. I was cautious at first, but after registering, I found that the community there is well-organized and supportive.
Soto Zen uses an meditation approach called shikantaza (只管打坐) which in English just means something like “do nothing but sitting”. The idea is that instead of focusing your meditation on breathing, or a visual image, just sit.
I’ve been trying this for about 4 weeks, meditating for about 15 minutes a day. I miss a few days, but so far I’ve done pretty well in staying diligent. In addition, I still recite the nembutsu and some sutra (often the Lotus Sutra or Amitabha Sutra) too.
So, as they say in English, I am burning the candle at both ends.1 ;)
So, I might post more Zen-related posts going forward in addition to other things. I don’t know if I will be able to stick with it, or even if I intend to get ordained in Soto Zen, but time will tell.
P.S. Accidentally posted this too early, so I guess it’s another double-post day. ;p
1 Actually the phrase “burning the candle at both ends” means working all night and day (not getting much sleep). It just sounds nice here. ;)