Coming together to practice is a special time. Even though we are sitting at home, we strive to maintain a level of respect and reverence that we would maintain in the zendo. We want to empower you to connect with your practice while we’re away from the zendo. Below are some guidelines for conduct in the online zendo.
Traditionally, to help facilitate a calm and settled space so that practitioners can attend to the moment-to-moment unfolding of experience in meditation, there are Zendo practices, or forms, agreed upon and practiced with harmony in mind:
Dress in Virtual Zendo
Please try to dress as closely as possible to the way you would dress if you were attending zazen at the zendo. Wear neutral or muted colors, no shorts or obvious exercise wear, logos, graphics, sloppy pants, no bright colors or patterns. During the week some flexibility in dress is allowed, but it should still be modest - no bare legs and no tank tops.
Minimize visual distractions for yourself
If using a desktop computer, and if possible, shift the space from a workstation to a practice space by clearing or covering work papers. Please be sure to not have pictures with text or light sources directly in front of the camera.
One recommended way to sit zazen is in profile, facing away from the computer screen. This allows participants not to be distracted by the movement of other sangha members, mirroring our formal practice of facing the wall during zazen. Some choose to sit off-camera; that’s also fine. The jikido and teacher will sit facing the camera.
Please join sittings a few minutes before the scheduled time, so as to be seated and settled in place before the period of zazen begins. Make sure you are muted before you begin sitting.
The Jikido will ring three bells to begin the first period zazen.
In the zendo we do our best to maintain silence and stillness. Sit still and do not move (wiggle, fidget, stretch, scratch etc.) until the end of the period. Our practice requires us to maintain stillness in the midst of discomfort, but if you are in intense pain, perform a seated bow and adjust your position as unobtrusively as possible.
The period ends with two gongs. On the second gong, make a seated bow. The jikido will announce a timed rest period.
After the rest period, the jikido will ring three bells to begin the second period of zazen, and two bells again to end the period. Again make a seated bow on the second gong.
Please plan on attending the entirety of any period of zazen you join, this includes the bows and chanting at the end.
Please mute your microphone and join the sangha in a chanting service led by the jikido. Chanting will be followed by three full prostrations, or three simple standing bows, as participants are able.
Dokusan is available during sesshin. Because of the large number of students, everyone alternates between teachers, seeing a different teacher in dokusan each time they attend sesshin. Coming into dokusan is optional. If you do not wish to have an interview, please email firstname.lastname@example.org when you sign up for sesshin and let us know.
At the beginning of zazen periods during sesshin, the names of people slated for dokusan that period will be called. If your name is called please be near your computer, ready for interview. You will be put into a breakout room with a teacher when it's your turn.
Once in the room, bow to the teacher and introduce yourself. The interview will end when the teacher bows to you. Make a bow to them at the same time and click the red “leave” button in the lower right hand corner of the zoom screen.
The jikido is meant to serve as a model of practice - of service to others, discipline, and dedication. As such, the ritual should be conducted with a degree of reverence and solemnity.
Jikidos should arrive for sitting at least fifteen minutes before the period begins to greet people.
If possible, jikidos should have a simple altar. This can be anything from a candle you light and blow out after sitting, to the more traditional (moving clockwise) Buddha image, candle, incense bowl, water bowl.
A simple bowl chime is something jikidos should also have on hand.
You can purchase one here.