May 27, 2014
Zen Ritual: A Practitioner’s Perspective on the Expressions of Forms

by Konin Cardenas

The class I’m offering on Zen ritual will look at the ways in which each one of us can connect at a profound, personal level with the ceremonies and activities of Zen. It means looking at formal practice from the place of our personal dharma position. That is, the class is about the ways in which ritual relates to us—individually, in community, and from the standpoint of the absolute. We’ll look at a number of ceremonies over the course of five classes, and talk about these layers of experience and how they deeply inform our practice.

_MG_3339_alisonbankOne example of a ritual that we’ll study is the Bodhisattva Vows, which are said at the end of Saturday morning lecture and during the Full Moon Ceremony. We can start to take these vows with the idea of being more skillful in the world, supported by and engaging with our fellow practitioners. Yet, we can really only take these vows seriously if we understand ourselves as interconnected with all things. So we’ll read a chapter from Shohaku Okumura Roshi’s book Living by Vow, in which he writes:

We cannot be proud of our practice, and we don’t need to be too humble about our lack of practice or understanding. We are just as we are. Our practice is to take one step toward the infinite, the absolute, moment by moment one step at a time.

I would add that we are already completely within the infinite in each moment, even though we might feel that we are stepping closer to it. This is the way in which we will take up the study of ritual this summer. Please join me!

For more information or to register, see Zen Ritual: A Practitioner’s Perspective on the Expressions of Forms on our website. The five-week class begins Tuesday, June 24, at City Center.

Bodhisattva Vows
(one translation)

Beings are numberless, I vow to free them.
Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to end them.
Dharma gates are boundless, I vow to enter them.
The Budda’s Way is unsurpassable, I vow to become it.