Although the word Zen is generally translated as “quiet sitting,” people have been intrigued by the mystery of Zen since Bodhidharma, the first Zen patriarch, brought what he called “Wall-Gazing” to China in the 5th century. From Bodhidharma’s exacting discipline and realization, the dharma was transmitted to Huike, the second patriarch, and from there it spread through direct transmission from teacher to disciple through China and Japan and this unbroken chain of authenticity is now taking root in the west.
Zen came to the United States in the early 20th century, but it wasn’t until the late 60’s and early 70’s that the published works of Alan Watts, D.T. Suzuki, Philip Kapleau, and Shunryu Suzuki that Zen and particularly Zen Practice were introduced into mainstream American society.
Whatever it is that draws someone to the world of Zen, sooner or later the words “Zen practice,” are going to come up, and if you have the good fortune of working with a Zen teacher, your journey through the world of Zen training will be challenging and take many forms and dimensions before it becomes an integral part of your Zen-life experience.
At the Vista Zen Center, Zen is usually practiced in one of these forms:
- Breath Awareness. Includes techniques involving counting or following the breath.
- Mindfulness Practice. Involves watching the thoughts and sensations you are experiencing while sitting zazen or doing walking meditation.
- Shikan-taza. Just sitting with complete awareness of your present experience.
- Koan Practice. Working on specific koans that have been handed down over the centuries.
In addition, when Jake Jiyu Gage, Roshi, starts working with someone, the student is encouraged to incorporate events, relationships and personal issues as part of their zen practice. It not only eases the student into the formality of traditional Zen practice, but gives the teacher and student a shared perspective from which to work. Jake Jiyu Roshi has found this is a great way to build a strong student-teacher relationship and is evidenced by the size and commitment of the VZC community.
We welcome anyone who wishes to study Zen and participate in our community. See our schedule for exact times and please contact us for directions and general zen center parking and zendo protocol before your first visit.
We look forward to sitting with you.