The zendo is our place of silent practice. By upholding the spirit of silence we support each other in turning the mind inward. To this end we ask you to adhere to the following guidelines:
Be on time. Formal sittings begin punctually. A large warning bell is struck in the house five minutes prior to the beginning of the first round. If you need special seating arrangements – chairs, pillows, benches, etc. – please have them in place before the five-minute bell.
Be in your place and settled by the playing of the han (the wooden block), which begins the block of sitting. After the han, the wooden clappers will be played, followed by the inkin bell. Once the third strike on the inkin bell is silent there should be no moving. The zendo should be a place of silence and stillness.
If you arrive after the group has begun zazen, please go to the Kannon Room and do zazen there until you hear the inkin bell and join us then.
Please minimize distractions: Please do not bring extraneous personal items into the zendo, such as purses, satchels, keys, cell phones, wallets or water bottles (eyeglasses are okay). The floor should be clear. Avoid wearing perfume, aftershave or other fragrances, and be sure to brush your teeth. Remove noisy jewelry and disarm watch-timers before entering the zendo.
Keep dress comfortable and modest. Please do not wear bright colors or garments bearing large images or large printed words. These can be a distraction to others. Darker, subdued colors are preferable. Please do not wear bright or colorful socks. Because we use the kyosaku (encouragement stick) upon request, we ask that shoulders are covered.
Kinhin, or walking meditation, provides an opportunity for continuing practice in motion. During kinhin, it is okay to exit the zendo to get water, secure more cushions or use the restroom. If you leave the zendo during kinhin, please try to return to your same spot in line before the next round of zazen begins
Dokusan is regularly offered during the evening blocks of sitting, and you can ask for instructions on dokusan procedure. Basic information about dokusan is available here.
Also, the encouragement stick is offered during most formal rounds. It is only used when asked for, so please make sure you understand the spirit and procedures connected with its use.
We all benefit in supporting each other in maintaining a refined tautness in the zendo. These guidelines touch upon some of the obvious ways we can do this, and it is the spirit of deep practice that underlies them all. If you have questions about any procedures, or suggestions, please feel free to let us know.