Zen is an embodied path, using practices that cultivate the body, breath, subtle energetic system, and mind. Meido Roshi here introduces these methods, including a more detailed instruction of the crucial foundational practice of Tanden Soku, cultivation of the navel energy center, and the Naikan practice of the great Rinzai Zen master Hakuin.
The Rinzai Zen Way
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In this section, Meido Roshi provides an overview of the Rinzai Zen tradition and its conceptual framework. He describes the Rinzai Zen training, its approach, and method, presenting key elements that include actualization within the human relationship, direct pointing at the human mind, seeing one’s true nature, and training after the initial realization.
In this lesson, Meido provides pointers to build common ground as a starting point to practice Rinzai Zen. In Zen practice, the essential beginning point is to raise what is called a Great Doubt -a doubt about an intellectual understanding of our existence. He invites us to examine our lives by reviewing the basic concepts we have about time, space, and sense of self (“sense of me”). Meido deep dives into those concepts to provide ground for us to start our personal examination and Rinzai Zen training.
Meido explains that any formal meditation, in which we sit and do inner work with the cultivation of meditation, has three important pillars to consider: the breath, the body, and the method (or the mind). In the next three lessons, Meido presents the foundations of seated meditation (Zazen), covering all three pillars in-depth. In this lesson, he provides systematic instructions for the first pillar of Zazen – The Breath. He introduces the Fukoshiki Kokyu Technique (belly breathing), discusses the importance and purpose of breath cultivation, and provides instructions, demonstration, and guided practice of the technique.
In this lesson, Meido provides systematic instructions for the second pillar of seated meditation (Zazen) – The Body and completes the lesson with a “direct pointing” to the nature of the mind. He explains the yogic meditation posture and fine points of body usage, providing detailed instruction from top to bottom that includes the base, legs, low back, hands, head, tongue, and eyes, and points out common mistakes that we should avoid. In addition, Meido talks about meditation supporting items, including cushions.
In this lesson, Meido provides systematic instructions for the third pillar of seated meditation (Zazen) – The Method. He introduces the Susokukan Method (breath counting) and provides detailed directions on how to practice it. As Meido explains, this is one of the most direct, fast, and dependable methods to start experiencing, sustaining, and cultivating the condition of meditative absorption called Samadhi. Meido instructs on how to practice the Susokukan Method in a non-dual way without creating subject and object separation (without being an observer of the breath). He discusses the purpose behind this method and how we are retraining the mind from the habit of wondering, being distracted, not being present, and not permeating the entire space with our awareness. In the end, Meido discusses common errors and ways to troubleshoot them.
In this lesson, Meido recaps the main topics covered in the first part of the course (Zazen) and provides guidelines to establish our daily practice.
In this lesson, Meido talks about internal energetic cultivation, its purpose and introduces Tanden Soku – the breathing method that gathers energetic currents at the navel energy center. He explains what is meant by internal energetic cultivation and how we can harness, strengthen, and direct internal energy for different purposes, including access to profound Samadhi, awakening, and more.
In this lesson, Meido provides detailed instructions on how to practice the Tanden Soku inhalation phase – the breathing method that gathers energetic currents at the navel energy center. He complements the instructions with a demonstration and gives guidelines to practice on our own.
In this lesson, Meido provides detailed instructions on how to practice the Tanden Soku exhalation phase. As Meido explains, the exhalation phase is the one where the major work of energetic cultivation is performed. We will learn basic body usage that causes breath power and energetic currents to gather in the navel center and radiate through the body. Meido explains that the overall psychophysical effect of using the body in this manner (i) causes the energy to radiate through the body, unifying the body, mind, and meditation method, (ii) makes our senses more alive, (iii) causes the mind to settle, and (iv) allows us to experience natural clarity and rest in it. He complements the instructions with a demonstration, gives guidelines to practice on our own, and talks about common mistakes and pitfalls and ways to avoid them.
In this lesson, Meido introduces the second internal energetic cultivation practice of A-sokukan – breathing the mantric syllable “A.” Meido explains the purposes of the A-sokukan practice and provides instructions, demonstration, and guided practice of the exercise. A-sokukan is a dynamic and useful exercise to reinforce the healthy way of body usage learned in earlier lessons and refine and extend the breath to take our Tanden Soku to new subtlety levels. In addition, he talks about the common mistakes we tend to have while practicing A-sokukan and ways to overcome them.
In this lesson, Meido introduces the third internal energetic cultivation practice of Hakuin’s Nanso no Ho. Meido explains the purpose of the practice and provides instruction, demonstration, and guided practice of the exercise. Hakuin’s Nanso no Ho is a visualization practice that develops balance between body and mind. As Meido explains, it causes tension and anxiety to drop and energetic currents of the body to settle in the lower body, thus creating conditions for the mind to feel clear and still.
In this lesson, Meido conducts a review of internal energetic cultivation practices and provides guidelines to establish our daily energetic cultivation practice.
In this lesson, Meido introduces the third part of the Rinzai Zen Way course related to the study of mantric sound, chanting, and use of vibration and resonance in Rinzai Zen training. This usually is one of the hidden topics within Zen that has limited coverage in books and other available resources. He explains why it is an important area of practice and how the mantric sound training enables the larger goal of seeing our true nature and awakening. He explains the purpose of chanting Sutras, Dharani, and Mantra in Zen, and how we can leverage the vibratory and energetic nature of the sound in our practices to unify body, speech, and mind to create change through sound and develop the samadhi power.
In this lesson, Meido presents The 8-breath Practice of Intoning AH. He explains how the mantric syllable AH has the effect of expansive clarity, openness, and freedom on us, and provides both instructions and guided practice of the exercise. As Meido points out, The 8-breath Practice of Intoning AH can not only help us unify body, speech, and mind but can also enable us to experience non-dual states of being.
In this lesson, Meido presents a practice of reciting Dharani (long mantras) Shosaishu or the “crisis-averting dharani.” He explains the reasoning behind the practice of reciting Dharani and other texts and their effects on us. Meido then introduces the practice of reciting Dharani Shosaishu with the predominant syllable AH, which helps to develop clarity, openness, and expansive energetic states necessary for our meditation and inner exploration journeys. He provides instructions, demonstrates the chanting of Dharani Shosaishu, and explains its effect on us, including the dissolution of anxiety and fear by building more open and expansive states leading toward Samadhi.
In this lesson, Meido presents a practice of reciting Dharani Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo or the “life-prolonging chant” of the bodhisattva of compassion. He starts with an explanation of the intoning OH and UH as mantric syllables and their effects on us, including the development of more grounding, strengthening, and concentrated states of being. Meido then introduces Dharani Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo with the predominant syllable OH and UH and provides instructions, demonstration, and guided practice of the exercise.
In this lesson, Meido summarizes different ways to build our daily practice and provides the minimum set of practices necessary for beginners to enter the Rinzai Zen training to transform our lives and transcend our habitual ways of being.
Meido Moore is the abbot of Korinji, a Rinzai Zen Buddhist monastery in Wisconsin, and the guiding teacher of the international Korinji Rinzai Zen Community. Meido Roshi began Zen practice in 1988 and trained under three teachers in the line of the great 20th century Rinzai master Omori Sogen Roshi. He has completed the koan curriculum of this lineage, and in 2008 received inka shomei: recognition as an 86th-generation Zen lineage holder empowered to transmit the full range of Rinzai Zen practices. Aside from Zen, Meido is also ordained in the Mt. Koshikidake tradition of Shugendo.
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