December 9, 2013

Seminar and lecture recap

Two events this past weekend were held at Daiyuzenji in Chicago.

On Saturday evening through Sunday morning, Meido Roshi led the overnight retreat focused on practice of internal cultivation methods transmitted in our lineage.  Instruction on Saturday centered on Hakuin's Nanso no ho method, and on two of the three sections of the Do-in ho:  the self-massage practice used to release tension and energetic blockages, and a series of movements which integrate upper and lower body and train the student to "drop" the ki energy down.  On Sunday the various tanden kokyuho exercises were reviewed:  "belly" breathing, A-Un breathing, the use of katsu and kiai, chanting of various syllables with voice and silently, and finally a "breath-swallowing" practice which helps the student transition to the long, silent and deep tanden-focused breathing used in zazen.   As a bonus some instruction was given regarding remedies and foods to be used if the energetic system becomes stirred up from incorrect training.  For those who missed it here is the "secret" recipe for one of these:  a beverage containing equal parts of hot water and sake, very lightly sweetened with sugar.

Following the retreat our usual Sunday morning practice was held.  After this, a group gathered for the special lecture by the Daiyuzenji abbot, So'zan Roshi.  This was to mark Rohatsu, the day commemorating Shakyamuni's enlightenment (traditionally, the 8th day of the 12th month on the lunar many Zen students observe the modern date).  So'zan Roshi's lecture touched on the event of the Buddha's enlightenment experience as described in the Sutra Pitaka, and on understandings of dhyana/jhana found in various Buddhist traditions.  He compared these with the Zen approach which, though essentially without fixed method, rests upon and can make free use of these.

After the lecture, the group adjourned to a local restaurant for brunch and conversation.  Many thanks to all who participated.  We'll shortly be releasing the dates for many RZC events in the coming year: sesshin, zazenkai and more.