How We Meet
Although Rinzai Zen is known for its strict adherence to form, we take a softer approach, acknowledging that we are mostly beginners and fallible human beings who may fall short of our goals.
Form is less important to us than is function, but we do follow certain customs regarding ceremony and personal conduct.
Our ceremonial conventions include the burning of a candle and incense and the use of bells and clappers to signal important moments in the meeting, which is a tradition borrowed from the old Zen ways.
The incense and candle serve as focusing tools during meditation. Bells and clappers allow us to cue phases of the meeting without using words.
Most of us sit cross-legged on cushions during the meeting, but we provide chairs for those whose flexibility does not allow them to do so.
We also bow to each other at various points, not as a form of worship or submission but out of respect for each other and the meeting space.
And we honor the silent pauses in conversation that can arise in the course of a meeting, rather than try to fill them with words.