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Zen room or hall. This is the main room, whether it be in a monastery, retreat center or residential home,…

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Zendo

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Zen, or ch’an as it was called originally, is a branch of Mahayana Buddhism that first appeared in China in…

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Zen

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A zazenkai (座禅会), literally meaning "to come together for meditation" is a Zen Buddhist retreat that is usually less intensive and of shorter duration than sesshin.…

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Zazenkai

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“Total awareness in an upright posture,”or seated meditation, usually on a cushion on the floor. Unlike meditation done in some…

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Zazen

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A large, rectangular mat made of fabric-covered cotton batting, usually used with a zafu or sitting bench.

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Zabuton

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The celebration of the Buddha’s birth, which traditionally is set in May on the day of the full moon. This…

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Vesak

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The head cook for a monastery or sesshin. Traditionally the role of tenzo was a position of high honor in…

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Tenzo

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Literally: presentation of the shout. Commonly: a talk by a Zen teacher (a sensei or roshi). The talk is not…

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Teisho

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The ‘head of practice’ of a monastery or temple, usually second in command to the Abbot or Head Teacher. The…

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Tanto

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A Buddhist canon or scripture regarded as having been spoken by the Buddha., The chanting of sutras can at times…

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Sutra

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One of the two main schools of Zen in Japan, the other being Rinzai. The tendency towards caution (one could…

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Sōtō

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The person who sounds the densho to announce events in the Buddha Hall.

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Shoten

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“Just sitting.” An intense form of zazen where no mental aids such as counting the breath are used. A state…

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Shikantaza

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A mudra used when standing or walking in formal practice situations. The fingers of the left hand gently make a…

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Shashu

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(Literally: ‘gather or touch the mind’) An intensive meditation retreat usually lasting 3, 5 or 7 days. The word ‘retreat’…

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Sesshin

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A ceremonial period of bowing, chanting, and making offerings to the Buddhas and Ancestors.

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Service

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A recognized teacher of Zen. The title sensei, like the title roshi, traditionally is positioned after the teacher’s name rather…

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Sensei

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A sitting position where one kneels and sits back onto the heels. This is the standard position for longer, seated…

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Seiza

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A very deep state of meditation in which notions of duality, self and indeed all concepts drop away. Profound satori…

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Satori

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Zen family, community or group practicing together. In its largest sense, all living beings make up our sangha, though when…

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Sangha

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Work Practice. This is work, usually physical, done in a mindful and aware manner. Tasks should be carried out in…

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Samu

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In Buddhist thought this is the continuing cycle of birth, death and rebirth. All beings are trapped in this unpleasant…

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Samsara

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Venerable master of Zen. A roshi can be a man or a woman, a monk or a layperson. Although the…

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Roshi

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The day set aside to commemorate the enlightenment of the Buddha, which traditionally is celebrated on the eighth of December.…

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Rohatsu

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One of the two main schools of Zen still active in Japan, the other being Sōtō. Rinzai, which originated in…

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Rinzai

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