Join Us

We welcome visitors, with or without prior experience in Zen practice. The best way to start is to attend one of our weekly sittings, on Wednesdays (7 – 8:30 pm)and Sundays (7:30 – 8:30 am). Let us know you are coming so that we can make introductions. If you’re new to Zen practice, we will arrange for a member to meet with you before things begin and give you at least a brief orientation to the zendo and forms of practice that we maintain.

 

Please also read our What to Expect and Zendo Terms documents before you come. We hold monthly orientations to practice on the First Wednesday of the month, 6:15 – 7:00 pm. Call ahead.

When you join us for formal practice, wear comfortable, modest, dark-colored clothing. Consult our contact person if you need clarification of any of these matters.

 

For a practical introduction to Zen as taught in our lineage, we recommend reading the book Taking the Path of Zen, by Diamond Sangha founder Robert Aitken in paperback or pdf. While it doesn’t describe exactly the way we do things here, it provides helpful general background information.

What To Expect

WHAT TO EXPECT IF YOU ARE NEW TO RING OF MOSS ZENDO

If it’s your first visit to Ring of Moss Zendo, this document should help you get oriented and enjoy your time with us. Those who are new to Zen practice will encounter many new terms and forms, and it can feel confusing. Just do your best, and follow along with what others are doing. Don’t worry about getting things “right” your first time. Everyone here was once a beginner. If you’re interested in coming to visit the Ring of Moss Zendo, the first step is to contact one of our members by email at ringofmoss@gmail.com. They can answer questions any questions you may have.

 

Let’s start with arrival and parking. There are a number of spaces to park in the Zendo driveway or on the parking strip in front of the Zendo. There are significant additional parking spaces just east of the Zendo, adjacent to Ardenwald School and Park on 36th Ave. We make an effort to minimize our impact in the neighborhood by driving slowly and not parking in front of others’ houses.

 

If it’s your first time at the zendo and you’ve called ahead, arrangements have most likely been made to give you an orientation. If for some reason that hasn’t happened, here’s what to expect:

 

When You Arrive

Longtime members of the group usually arrive early to get the building ready for zazen (sitting practice). People will likely be sweeping the porch, cleaning, and preparing the altars in the dojo (sitting hall) and hojo (teacher’s room).

 

Start of Sitting

A loud densho (currently a drum, but traditionally a bell) will begin ringing ten minutes before the scheduled time to begin zazen. We cease our conversations and socializing and observe silence once this starts to sound. This is the time to finish up whatever task you are doing and take a seat in the dojo – through the kitchen.

 

Finding Your Seat

As you enter the dojo, pause just inside the curtain door and do a standing bow towards the altar. Find a seat and bow toward it, then turn and bow facing the room before you sit down. There are extra sitting cushions and support cushions in the back corner of the dojo, as well as chairs in the entry room if you prefer to sit in a chair.

 

Leaders

We have four leaders in the room to help us in our zazen and chanting practices. There is a Tanto who serves as our practice leader, a Jikijitsu, who keeps the time for our zazen periods and leads us in kinhin (walking meditation), a Jisha who serves as our teacher’s attendant and facilitates our individual time with our teacher, and an Ino who leads our chanting. Multiple roles are often held by a single person to simplify our practice.

 

Zazen

Our sitting blocks are divided into half-hour periods, with 25 minutes of zazen followed by five minutes of kinhin. The Jikijitsu will ring the shijo meditation bell three times to begin the 30- minute round of practice. Kinhin After 25 minutes, the timekeeper will ring the bell twice to signal the beginning of kinhin. Bow, rise from your seat, and stand in front of your cushion. The timekeeper will clap wooden blocks once to signal the beginning of kinhin. You will then bow, and immediately turn to your left and follow the person in front of you in a line. Space yourself about an arm’s length away from the person in front of you. Continue your meditation practice as you walk. The jikijitsu will clap the clappers again, and the line will speed up. Stop in front of your seat. At a silent signal from the jikijitsu, the group will bow together. Sit back down for another 25-minute period. Sometimes we face the wall and other times face the center of the room; just follow what others are doing.

 

Bathroom

If you need to relieve yourself or get a drink of water, kinhin is the time to do so. Begin the walk as described above, and the first time you come to the curtain door, give a quick bow and step out the door. When you return to the dojo, wait just inside the curtain until the jikijitsu gives the silent signal for everyone to bow. Bow with the group and return to your seat.

 

Sutras

On Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings we end sitting with the chanting of The Four Infinite Vows. The text for these can be found in our Sutra Book and on a card beneath each sitting mat.

 

Dokusan

Some members have established a working relationship with our teacher, Andrew Mason. If he is attending zazen Wednesday evenings, he will almost always offer dokusan. Dokusan is an opportunity for a brief one-on-one meeting with the teacher. You’ll notice folks leaving and returning to the dojo during some of the periods when this is occurring, as they depart to or come back from dokusan, ringing a bell to signal their participation.

 

Our Practice Forms

If you are new to a meditation practice, or just new to the Ring of Moss Zendo forms, give yourself time to learn the forms. We use the forms so that we can maintain silence and settle into our meditation practice. If you have questions, we have members who would be happy to meet with you to answer any questions you may have.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT DURING THE PANDEMIC

We expect all participants to be vaccinated.

The Handy-dandy Cheat Sheet for TERMS used by Ring of Moss

Zendo: Zen hall.

Dōjō: the Japanese pronunciation of a Chinese phrase meaning “tao place.” That, in turn, translates the Sanskrit term bodhimanda, which means “seat of awakening.” Now commonly used to designate practice sites for various Asian martial art forms.

Hōjō: means roughly “ten-foot square” and designates the teacher’s quarters. The place where one consults the teacher in private.

Zazen: literally “seated Zen.” Central to Zen practice.

Kinhin: a form of walking practice punctuating periods of zazen.

Sesshin: translates as “to touch or convey the heartmind.” Extended period of formal practice, usually multiple days.

Sutras: teachings attributed to the Buddha. A brief selection of these are chanted during most practice events. Dokusan: a formal meeting with the teacher at one’s own instigation. Rarely occurs outside zazen or sesshin. Also known as sanzen.

Zafu: the standard round cushion used during zazen.

Zabuton: the large square, padded mat used under a zafu.

Teishō: a Dharma presentation given by a master during sesshin.

Jikijitsu: the leader who times sittings and leads kinhin. The jikijitsu sits next to the door used to enter and exit the zendo.

Jisha: the leader responsible for attendance, work, and the dokusan line. The jisha sits directly opposite the jikijitsu, next to the door used to exit the zendo for dokusan.

Ino: leader of sutra services, meals, and tea.

Tanto: oversees the zendo and the work of the other dōjō leaders during formal practice events.

Tenzo: leader responsible for meal planning and for overseeing meal preparation during sesshin.

Densho: a large temple bell used mainly to sound a ten-minute sequence signaling the beginning of an event in the dōjō. At present, Ring of Moss is using a drum so that we don’t unnerve our neighbors.

Han: a board struck with a mallet to announce the gathering for teishō and in several other ceremonies.

Umpan: the flat “cloud gong” used mainly to announce meals.

Shijo: the bell that the jikijitsu uses to begin and end sitting periods.

Kansho: the bell used at the head of the dokusan line, answering signals from the teacher.

Inkin: a hand-held bell used by the ino and the jikijitsu.

Kyosaku: literally “admonishing stick.” A long flat stick periodically offered by the tanto during zazen. Applied to a muscular area of the shoulders, it is used in the Diamond Sangha only by request.