We are a gathering of Soto Zen Buddhists. Our teachers are both ordained priests and lay.
We have inherited disciplines from Japan and China, which we cherish. We are seeking ways to keep them alive and purposeful here, today. We also seek egalitarian forms of community that are relevant to the 21st century.
Recognizing the suffering of the world caused by the "three poisons" of greed, hatred and delusion in its various manifestations within society and our own hearts, we seek to transform our lives and our society at large.
There are practices of body, of speech, and of heart that open us up to the deep truths of who we are and how we are connected, each of us to the other, and to the world itself. These practices involve learning the arts of silence, studying the wisdom of the elders, listening, weighing, and, most importantly, finding out for ourselves what it is they point to. They also involve being clear about who we are within society, what our privileges and biases are, and acting in responsible and ethical ways.
We practice shikantaza, just sitting, as well as koan introspection, the path of words and freedom within the constraints of our human condition. We offer evening sits, one day zazenkai (day long sitting), and sesshin (multiple-day long sitting) . We offer chanting services, ceremonies, talks, classes, and other opportunities to practice Buddha Dharma.
We are inspired by the great insights of our interdependence and many of us act in our communities through outreach, activism, and education.
Shakyamuni Buddha said, “Spiritual friends are the entirety of the holy life.” Seeing clearly and responding to suffering takes bravery, compassion, and support. Manifesting this is our project. What we offer is a community of spiritual friendship.
Distinctive Features of the Empty Moon Network
We stand within the Soto stream of Zen. We consider Dogen & Keizan central thinkers in the articulation of the Zen dharma.
We transmit the reformed koan curriculum first developed out of the Hakuin Takujo system by the Soto master Daiun Sogaku Harada. While we do not require all priests and teachers to teach with koans, we believe koan introspection a distinctive part of our community’s offerings.
We offer rigorous training in priest formation, based on extensive retreat (sessin days), and especially with long-term engagement with the koan curriculum. While we treasure the classic monastic formation, which demands participation in ango training periods. While we encourage our priests-in-training to commit to long ango periods, we recognize that the circumstances of most people’s lives make this impossible, and we do not require ango participation.
We count lay practice as fully sufficient to achieve the wise heart. And offer full dharma transmission to lay people for whom that seems appropriate.
We seek ways to bring the Soto style to the West, cautiously adapting the liturgical forms to our contemporary needs. We are committed to creating living communities, where we can support one another, practice in the ways appropriate to the particular conditions of our lives, respond with compassion to the suffering of the world, raise our children, live, and when the time comes, die.
We hope you can join us.