The Dunedin Zen Group

Welcome to the web page of the Dunedin Zen Group. The DZG is committed to supporting Zen practice and training in Dunedin, and in NZ/Aoteaora. The group supports practice by arranging weekly practice sessions (zazen), as well as offering longer half day sits (zazenkai) and regular retreats (sesshin). We also have a small lending library. If you are interested in Zen, or in learning more you are welcome to contact us at the address below, or to come along on Wednesday night to our regular practice session. We meet at 7.00 pm at St Martins Anglican Church, downstairs at 194 North Road, North East Valley.   We ask $5, to help cover rental costs. And if this is your first visit please try to email us beforehand and come at least ten minutes early .              E-mail: dunedinzen@gmail.com

The group is a part of the Diamond Sangha, and we are fortunate to have Glenn Wallis Roshi available as a Zen teacher to guide and support practice. While we practice in the Diamond Sangha Zen lineage, everyone is welcome and we regularly have friends from other traditions sit and practice with us.

WEDNESDAY ZAZEN EVENINGS

For 2016 Wednesday evening Zazen is held at St Martins Anglican Church, downstairs at 194 North Road, North East Valley. We ask $5, to help cover rental costs. It’s good to arrive a few minutes early so we can be under way by 7.00pm.
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Spring Sesshin 2019

Meditation Intensive

Dunedin Zen Group, Spring Sesshin

The Dunedin Zen group is happy to once again offer a period of intensive meditation training in the form of its annual seven-day Sesshin (meditation intensive).   This is a rare opportunity to develop greater facility with and understanding of the process of mindful awareness and of zen meditation.  Personal interviews with the teacher offer the opportunity for both novice and experienced practitioners to further develop their practice.

 This is rigorous training with long periods of meditation.  If you feel you may have difficulty with the schedule, or have any questions please contact one of the organisers.

 22 November to 29 November 2019

A weekend only option is also available:  22nd to 24th  November

 Sesshin will be led by Glenn Wallis Roshi, Zen Teacher in the Diamond Sangha tradition

When: Sesshin led by Glenn Wallis begins on the evening of Friday November 22 and completes on Friday afternoon November 29.  This Sesshin will be suitable for those new to meditation retreats, and for more experienced practitioners.  The weekend option finishes on Sunday afternoon November 24th

 Where: The Dunedin Zen Group’s annual Sesshin is held at our Quarantine Island venue and is residential.  The main accommodation is two large dormitory style rooms. For some background on the Island and to view it as a 3D model go to:  http://quarantineisland.org.nz/

To learn more and for an application form click Sesshin Registration Form

or, contact the organisers at dunedinzen@gmail.com.

 

Living Present Moment

This is a link to a recorded talk given by Glenn Wallis Roshi at the Dunedin Public Library Thursday March 14.

The theme is our experience of the current, the freedom of Zen practice. The essence of the talk is that when we live fully right now there is fundamentally no one left or required to be separate from the current moment, and when there is no one required to be, then we are at our most free and at our most authentic, as the person we are. When we are able to fully immerse in the current, what is already arisen as this present, now, we begin to recognise that we are are not isolate and separate. That separation is the perception we take on for social reality, but that inherently we are each other, the whole vast un-bordered moment of our life.

Just as you are

 

The indelible way of Zen is ‘just as you are’. This is not always comforting though as all too often ‘just as I am’ is not so satisfactory to me, and perhaps also not for others either.

In the phrase ‘just as you are’, just points to keeping solely to that matter, not wandering off to other considerations. Not journeying into ideas, conjectures, memories, fantasies that are not you’re ‘here, now’. It is said that if you are a hairs breadth off, you miss it by the distance between heaven and earth. The space between the imagined and the real, the distance of a life.

But this is awkward, for whatever we bring in, think about, recall, conjecture, becomes our current experience, our current as we are.

This whole matter of ‘just as you are’, is a practice matter; so looking at zazen practice, at some point in our meditation, from being settled, we get distracted. We hear a sound, register recognition, follow up with reflection, perhaps some innocuous comment, then we’re fully in there with proliferation about it. Even proliferation about being distracted and then commentary judging all of that.

At such a point, at that moment that full follow up on the single sound became our ‘just as you are.’ Awkward. We manufactured a position from our own centricity, that’s what thinking is. But there is no room for rationalizing here, no matter the acuity of logic. It is a matter of practice, of learning how to let things be as they are, fully and unremittingly. Even though we practice in a way that cleaves to as fully as possible, the sole object of meditation.

Zen practice isn’t about exclusivity, isn’t about creating or manufacturing some purity of being. We don’t wait until some mythical time to be perfect for practice, that’s not what practice is. Practice is doing, not preparing to be better at. It is about what is already current. Our ‘now’ if you like. That is why it can be described as an awareness practice, although for most people awareness is being able to notice more and more. In Zen there is no ‘noticing’, instead there is ‘intimacy’. Noticing implies someone to notice, intimacy implies no one to be watching, just that very thing fully itself. Just a single breath breathing, not even air breathing, just this breath moment.

This just as you are, really isn’t you, truly isn’t even about you. It is about everything else. It is about everything, and that is about you. In his Genjokoan, Dogen writes, “To carry yourself forward and experience the myriad things is delusion. That myriad things step forward and experience themselves is awakening.” Your awakening. In Shitou’s ‘Taking Part in the Gathering’, he simply says, “Don’t limit to your own small story.”

Aitken Roshi said to his students, “You are alright, to the very bottom.” And you are. Alright, right the way through, all the way.

We would like to accept ourselves like this, and have others accept us like this too, but what about when we don’t feel ok, when we don’t like, don’t approve of who we see when we look back at ourselves?

When it’s this way it is because our view is too narrow. We focus on tightly on our little me that we sought, unsuccessfully, to represent in such a better light than what we see our self as. But this too is really ok. Not nice, but fundamentally ok.

In Zen practice we learn to allow what is, and find the intimacy of the current, the life of immediately so. Now.

This isn’t something far off or conjured up, or that we convince ourselves of, but the very loves and vicissitudes of our days and nights. The beautiful intricate morass and joy of our organic heritage.

In Zen practice we learn to trust. Classically this is called faith. Faith in being able to trust, to fully allow things as they are this moment, self included, whatever that is. Whether we think we know or not is not so important. What is important is what has already arisen as the current.

It does feel easier to do this when we don’t manufacture positions, ideas about who we are or who another is. When we manufacture and self narrate, we’ve already created someone to be at the center of our story. But on the plus side, that’s all that’s been done. Creation of an impression, an idea.

Telling ourselves about who we are, what we want, like, don’t like, hope for, need, have to be free of, all of that as well as the narrations of our thoughts about other people and things; All this gives us the impression of being valid and solid in ourselves.

And that is important. We need to be solid as personalities, as social creatures, to see and feel ourselves part of our social, physical, mental emotional environments.

But this isn’t being free. The first principle of Buddhism is often said to be complete freedom. Freedom from entanglements of view and position, freedom from attachments, freedom from self and other.

When there is no one to be, we are free. When there is no need to uphold being ourselves, we are at that moment at our most authentic, and most alive.

Yet this will no doubt seem like a world away from ‘just as you are’. If that’s the case, you, have yet to include what is current, what is already immediately so. Trees, carpet, warmth of the day.

We usually hold the model of what we are to be here I am, having experiences, seeing hearing, feeling, thinking and so on. But in Zen we look to a much more intimate position, experiencing directly the matter rather than through a perspective of separate position. We relinquish our position for complete embodiment of the current. When speaking, just that speech, when listening, just that hearing, when feeling just that matter arising as feeling. At such a moment when completely allowing what is, we are fully just that matter.

But if I am that very talking, seeing, hearing, feeling, not just something that is happening to, then equally it is the same for the things seen, heard, felt, thought, known. Trees, carpet, warmth of the day, all contribute, collude, in this experience, which is also the experience of me.

However, there is no actor at the center, no me, no you, just everything else. The center is the sky, the words on the page, the carpet, the achy back, and that unsatisfactory thinking as well. So what will you do?

Cleave to the intimacy of the current just as you are, and find out through and through the vast unboundedness of it all. After all it has no where to go and no one else to be, beyond each and every person, animal, thing, and not thing… you.

© Glenn Wallis 2019