Best Zen Training

Brent Mccoy
• Saturday, 26 December, 2020
• 9 min read

The core of Zen is taken, which requires motivation, patience, discipline, and dedication, and is cultivated through repeated, consistent practice. Formal Zen practice begins with two basic activities: we sit, and we breathe, with awareness.

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Fruitful Zen practice and the actualization of insight requires full engagement and motivation. Patience, endurance, discipline, curiosity, and the thirst to find out what this existence is about are necessities on this long, demanding, but rewarding path.

Taken is best practiced in a quiet location, sitting still with an erect and well-grounded posture, supported by a cushion on a thick mat or blanket. For those who can, it is important that both knees make firm contact with the mat, for a stable, triangular base.

All of these posture points help root the body in the earth, while the upper torso is elongated and the crown of the head reaches toward the heavens. If sitting in full- or half-lotus, the hands rest on the natural “shelf” of the sole of the upper foot; elbows are held slightly away from the trunk.

We walk single file, fairly close to the person in front of us, forming a line of beings as One. The objective is to develop the ability to be focused and present, responding appropriately to changing circumstances.

We chant surreys and Guarani, which are Buddhist teachings and esoteric prayers, some in English, some in Sanskrit or Pale, some in Sino-Japanese. Rather than intellectual reflection on what the words mean, we engage directly in the sounds themselves, with full voice; we just give ourselves over to the act of chanting.

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After the service ends, we do prostrations, not to pay homage to some idol, to an outside object or theoretical dogma, but as an opportunity to experience our inner Buddha-nature. Clarifying our Being Ordinarily our experience of the world is colored by interpretations based on feelings, intellectual knowledge, and conditioning.

It’s helpful to set up a specific place, perhaps with an altar with a small Buddha image or a treasured rock, an incense burner, and a candle, and a regular time dedicated to taken. Regular practice, alone and in a group of like-minded practitioners, establishes the conditions for opening our hearts and minds to this path of realization and actualization.

Patience, endurance, discipline, curiosity, and the thirst to find out what this existence is about are necessities on this long, demanding, and rewarding path. For a more immersive experience come to Die Boats Zeno, our mountain monastery, Intro to Zen weekends.

If you are a genuine beginner and don't know a Zebulon from zucchini, here are some books for you. But in the West, this seems to be the book that everyone reads before they show up at the Zen center.

I read a review of A Miracle of Mindfulness that said it was not about Buddhism. Most of all, this book holds out the hope that practice can be integrated into anyone's life, no matter how bleeped up it is.

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This book is as close as you're going to get to a nuts-and-bolts explanation of formal Entraining. It's wonderfully clear and keeps Zen speak to a minimum, yet there's depth to it as well.

His explanations of even the most vexatious koan can be wonderfully accessible. The difference is that Aiken's book might be better for someone who's already got a foot in the door at a Zen center.

We are ambivalent about Philip Tableau's Three Pillars of Zen. It's very good, but it gives the impression that the koan Mu is the be-all and end-all of Zen, which is very much not the case.

Zen's 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 taken, or seated meditation, to look into one's own nature.

The regular training schedules are always open for non-residents to come and join in for both work and taken, and we have a volunteer program available for those who are interested. Members receive reduced rates on all the events we hold at Yoko alongside other benefits.

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Please watch the video on this page to see how some of our current members take advantage of the Zen practice at Yoko. After a year in the mountains, students develop a healthy respect for the power of the seasons and the work that must be done to live in accord with them.

Founded in 1981 by Taiwan Magnum Joshi, one of the most important pioneers of Zen Buddhism in the West, many students have trained here since, including many in the White Plum Asana (of which we are a part) who have gone on to become teachers in their own right and set up other practice centers around the country and world. We are an authentic western Zen practice center and also highly regarded by the Japanese Soto School (or Satoshi), from which we inherited the tradition.

Chaos rules most of our lives, and every reminder we get can be helpful. Today I’m going to share some simple practices that won’t be new to most of you, but that are simple reminders to bring into your day.

I highly encourage you to write these on cards, sticky notes, phone lock screens and other places you’ll see them during the day. Simply take a moment a handful of times during the day to pause, and check in with your breath.

Really try to know more, and bring the joyful curiosity that we had as children about everything in our world. Not knowing is a state that most people want to get out of immediately, so we’ll make a plan, Google something, try to find the certainty.

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To get curious, and savor the groundless feeling of not having a fixed path or view? Little things, like brushing our teeth, can become a ritual to bring mindfulness, savoring, curiosity.

Eating your morning meal can be a time to just slow down and savor. Starting up your computer in the morning can be an opportunity for a ritual to get present to what’s important to you today.

Shutting the computer down in the evening can be an opportunity to reflect on what you learned today. There are lots of little opportunities like this to create rituals to get present.

Did you know that there are regular people, all over the world, just like you, who have reached a Zen state of mind? Its true, once only attainable by super-disciplined, highly trained Buddhist Monks, more and more regular people are reaching and even mastering Zen.

So many benefits: less stress, more happiness, more success, deeper sleep, easier learning, better memory, higher IQ & EQ, just to name a few. Here we show you the vast benefits waiting under the surface, and how meditation is the best way to dive in, explore, and harness your deep mind.

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This opens the door to many amazing benefits: faster & easier learning, excellent mental health, super creativity, & more. Here, we take a look at the most fascinating age defying studies making news headlines, and how meditation freezes father time.

Here, from a variety of angles, we discuss how meditation can propel anyone to their ideal body. Powerful CEOs, famous Hollywood actors, bestselling authors, well-known media personalities, top military rank, high level creatives, professional athletes, and even billionaires say meditation is the secret to their success.

It powers every market decision Warren Buffett makes. From boosting brain chemicals, to quieting mind chatter, to cooling the amygdala, this in-depth article discusses why anxiety is no match against meditation.

Dominating headlines with her viral 14+ million view TED Talk and bestselling book, a world-famous psychologist makes the compelling case for “mental toughness” as successful people's real superpower. If a “world's happiest people” competition were held, meditators would walk away with the trophy.

From tapping into an everyday state of “flow” to harnessing the power of “now,” here we discuss why meditation & happiness are one. Here, we discuss why scientists keep studying the marvelous meditating brain, and how you too can tap these awesome benefits.

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Through a process called “Neurogenesis,” scientists have discovered that our brain's “neuron count” is not set for life. Meditation's well-proven ability to generate a “neuron fortune” has massive implications & big benefits.

History is full of people who, in the face of failure, diversion, & distraction, stayed the course anyway, achieving their dreams regardless of what's in their path. From transforming psychology, to rewiring thought, to massively upgrading physiology, here we discuss why meditation dominates depression.

From extending life, to conquering unconquerable diseases, to rewriting genetic code, meditation's latest scientific findings are incredible. With such overwhelming age-defying scientific evidence, it's easy to see why meditators so often look decades younger.

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