We are a gathering of Zen practitioners walking the intimate way together.
Our teachers are both householders and ordained Zen priests.
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 ways to adapt those practices to communities that are not monastically oriented. This includes exploring more egalitarian forms of community that are relevant to our time and place.
We are grateful for the pointers to the wise heart found within the world's traditions. And we welcome within our community people of all faith stances, and with none at all. At the same time our North Star is found within the Buddhist tradition, and specifically the insights and practices of the Zen schools.
We acknowledge the fundamental observations of the Buddhist way, the "three marks" of existence: impermanence, non self, and dis-ease, a pervading sense of wrongness that poisons the human heart. In addition we acknowledge 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 by finding a larger vision beyond the boundaries of self and other. And from that awakened heart engaging life fully.
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 ancestors, 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 a range of practice opportunities focused on meditation in the Zen tradition, and various forms of meditation retreat. We also offer ways to celebrate together and to honor the cycles of life and death.
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 Zen Sangha
We are a Western expression of the Soto stream of Zen. We consider Dogen & Keizan central thinkers in the articulation of the Zen dharma. At the same times we are grateful for the many teachers of the intimate way both within the Zen tradition and beyond its warm embrace.
We transmit the reformed koan curriculum first developed out of the Hakuin Takujo Rinzai 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 count householder practice as fully sufficient to achieve the wise heart. And we center the concerns of householder life within our community. We also offer full dharma transmission to householders when that seems appropriate.
For those called into the mysteries of ordained life we offer a path that is rooted in the tradition, but with new emphasis. We are not in a position to form monastically. And while we honor that ancient path, we are exploring the ways of ordination as ministry. It is rooted in extensive practice, and including traditional forms, but focused on those arts more commonly associated with Western ideas of the ministerial life as a life of service.
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.
You are invited to join us.