Rinzai Zen Practice Notes

The particular form that we practice at Chobo-Ji is open to anyone, and all are welcomed with an open heart. We will work with you, wherever you may be on your own path, to help you make use of Chobo-Ji’s Seven Practice Modalities, to understand our Zendo Guidelines and the more rigorous elements of Rinzai Zen practice. We hope everyone who practices here can find a level of engagement with our form that works for you.

Some facets of this practice, particularly as we deepen our involvement, can be tough and demanding. Rinzai Zen’s stream of Buddhism uses a set hierarchy and rigorous discipline consisting of fixed rituals, conventions and formal procedures. Hierarchy, like so many other Zen anachronisms, is a practice tool that is designed to irritate and poke at our ego identities. So too are the pain in our legs, struggles with fatigue, Eastern rituals, formalities and mysterious koans – all these irritants do have a purpose. Somewhat counterintuitively, these forms and irritants are put in the service as catalysts for ultimate freedom and release from the form, and from our own egoistic attachments and delusions.

We work within the form and irritants to be released from them! We subject ourselves to this rigorous form so that we may become free of bondage to our own preferences and attachments. And we challenge our egos so that we may ultimately be free of their tyrannical reins. This enables our subtle but profound, innate deep caring nature to direct our lives. We recognize that this sort of path is not for everyone, and we encourage all who plan to train deeply to explore other Dharma practice options before committing to any particular form.

It is important to be clear about the normative rigors of Rinzai Zen so that we do not mistake them and mislabel them as oppressive, although they are certainly relatively so. They are tough, but designed to be catalysts for transformation. The entirety of the form is designed to be skillful means to help us find peace of mind and a caring heart even in the most difficult of circumstances. All of us who hew to this rigorous form need to remind ourselves, and each other, of this common purpose of a disciplined and dedicated practice.

Collectively we work on being a kind, mutually respectful, diverse community. Through deep spiritual inquiry and rigorous practice, we endeavor together to manifest the Great Mahayana Buddhist Vow to care for all beings, great and small, animate and inanimate.

For further instruction, consult Genjo Osho’s articles: “Developing Interior Mastery” and “The Discriminating Mind.”

Zazen Instruction is offered at the temple most Tuesdays at 7:30pm, see: Schedule.

The Chobo-ji Conflict Resolution and Ethics Policies can be viewed here.