What is Zen?
There are several ways of answering this question. From the point of view of training and practice, we can say that Zen is a spiritual discipline to realize one’s true self. Zen accomplishes this through silencing the body and the mind using a basic tool: zazen – sitting contemplation centered on the breath. The more one perseveres in Zen, the more one discovers that contemplation can be practiced in all circumstances – whether it is washing dishes, changing a diaper or coping with rush hour traffic.
Zen is a way of experiencing directly, without any conceptual attachments. This takes practice.
We offer two introductory courses that help those interested to get a taste of what Zen is.
Glimpse into Zen
Glimpse into Zen is an introductory seminar that gives a basic taste and idea of what zen is about. It includes actual zazen (sitting contemplation, which is the core of our practice) and question and answer sessions. The Glimpse seminar is an introductory forum that precedes and is a prerequisite for the Zen Orientation Workshop.
Comprehensive Zen Orientation Workshops are held over a period of six weeks on Sunday mornings or afternoons. Each workshop provides participants all the necessary physical skills and background information to practice Zen. Participation to the Zen Orientation Workshop is free.
One of the pillars of Zen practice is zazenkai or group meditation. Although everyone can practice Zen meditation individually, it is easier to practice zazen meditation with a community of sitters known as sangha. At Zen Center Philippines, we hold hybrid Zazenkai twice a month.
Another pillar of Zen practice is the sesshin or Zen retreat. The main activities in sesshin are zazen (sitting meditation), teisho (public teaching) and dokusan (private interview with the Teacher). These activities are supported by vegetarian meals, physical exercise, and short periods of light physical work. Zen Center Philippines holds sesshin around four times each year. The length of sesshin varies from two and a half to five days.