Why a Zen and Ki Sitting Group?
A little history … I had been studying both Zen and the martial art of aikido about 6 or 7 years before my first sesshin with Joshu Sasaki. After many sanzen (personal time with a Roshi), I distinctly remember thinking to myself … this is pretty cool, Roshi is just wants to see ‘good ki’! (‘Show good ki’ was a fairly common term in our dojo and it generally meant being aware, being alive and being present in a technique.) And it was many years later at another sesshin, during teisho (a formal talk by a Roshi), that Joshu Sasaki made this almost off-hand statement … “and you know the Lotus Sutra is all about ki.” My eyes popped open, my heart pounded a bit – but he dropped the subject as quickly as it came up.
Anyway, I use the idea of ‘ki’ a lot in my zazen. How to sit stable and still, how to keep the arms and hands energized, how to keep the torso elongated and and how to breathe fully – from the diaphragm … and it seems that there might be some of you who might want to experiment with sitting zazen from this ki point of view.
Zen and Ki
While the concept of ki is often associated with the martial arts, as Roshi pointed out, we can readily find it in the Buddhist literature as well. The Lotus Sutra does often mention ‘The Law of No Outflows’. In our Tathagata Zen tradition, we are most familiar with the teaching of zero and it doesn’t take much to see our ‘zero’ as being very ‘tight’, as in ‘air-tight’ or ‘water-tight’ or ‘ki-tight’.
That is, in zero, true self manifests and true ki permeates and there is no sense of any ‘leakage’. This tightness, this completeness, this state of non-leaking, this state of zero is what you want to observe and is what you want to experience. And the ‘ki perspective’ may help you get there.
Sitting with the Zen and Ki Sitting Group …
- For you newer students, you probably realize that the beginner’s instruction was a lot of information in a short period of time. Here’s a chance to help you reinforce that instruction from a slightly different perspective. (Both the beginner’s instruction and this ki perspective are saying the same things, just with a different vocabulary and a different bit of imagery.)
- For you moderately experienced sitters, here’s a chance to have you take a second look at your zazen. Have some assumptions crept in without you realizing … is your posture good and solid, are you breathing well?
- For you very experienced sitters, very often awareness of posture and breath drops away and we think that is a very good thing. It may or may not be. Re-energize your practice. Human nature and the universal principle of ‘the path of least resistance’ may have inadvertently caught up with your Zen practice. Find out in a hurry!
- For you more actively inclined sitters, perhaps you understand the benefits of sitting, but feel it could be even more valuable if it were just a bit more physical. Find out how to keep bringing energy to your sitting. (And we will eventually be doing some drills that just may fill that need for a little extra activity.)
Getting started, times and such…
Sitting with the Zen and Ki Sitting Group is just a matter of showing up. The sessions start promptly at 9:15am and end promptly at 10:30. From 9:00 – 9:15 there will be some time to go over any questions. Also, note, the AZC meeting room will be closed, so come straight to the zendo.
You must be familiar with the AZC zendo protocol – entering the zendo, bows, bells, clackers, zazen and the tea ceremony. There will be no chanting. Saturday beginner’s instruction cover’s all this. Also, it will very helpful for you to have of at least 10 hours of zazen in the zendo before coming.
Last, this sitting group is free for AZC members, a $10 donation is requested for non-members.
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For more info … e-mail Jim Redel, firstname.lastname@example.org