Zenkei-ji – Inconceivable Joy Temple
AUSTIN ZEN CENTER RESIDENTS’ HANDBOOK
Welcome to residential practice at Austin Zen Center’s Inconceivable Joy Temple. The purpose of this handbook is to introduce you to the basics of life and practice in this Zen temple. Of course this small handbook will not be able to answer all of the questions that you may have. So please, if you do have any further questions, feel free to ask the Residential Director or Head Teacher.
“I think we will naturally need some way of life as a group… little by little, with patience and endurance, we must find our way for ourselves.”
— Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
“All students should be like milk and water – more intimate than that even, because we are all good friends from past lives, sharing eternal Buddha Nature as each one’s own.”
— Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
ABOUT RESIDENCY AT AUSTIN ZEN CENTER
The Austin Zen Center was established in 2000 to carry on the warm-hearted teaching of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. From that time to the present day our purpose has been to embody and make accessible the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha as expressed in the Soto Zen tradition established by Eihei Dogen Zenji and conveyed to us by Suzuki Roshi and other Buddhist teachers. The Soto school of Zen has all the formality and discipline of other schools of Zen, but is particularly characterized by its patient and tenderhearted approach to practice. When the mind of zazen is lovingly extended to everyday life, our awareness of each moment increases and deep wisdom and compassion are born.
The intention of the AZC Resident Program is to support Zen students to sit zazen, practice intimately with each other, with the bodhisattva precepts, and gain a deeper understanding of what it is to take refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Practice life at the Austin Zen Center offers many training opportunities and yet, the responsibility for each person’s practice and realization is their own. The focused intention of the community supports each one of us and, in turn, each individual’s commitment and intention supports and sustains the community. The following information provides an overview of AZC’s residential program, as well as a basic understanding of the guidelines and requirements for all residents.
A person seeking to become a resident is only admitted through an application and vetting process, which includes a formal application and interview with the Head Teacher. In addition, periodic reviews may take place at 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and annually. The purpose of the review is to determine whether or not continued residency is a good fit for the resident, the residential community, and the Sangha at large.
All residents are expected to support the offerings and programs of the Austin Zen Center by being available to help out with tasks associated with managing these events.
There are a few different residential possibilities at AZC. Residencies are for specific lengths of time—anywhere from one month to several years. The following is a brief description of each category:
Prospective residents (Inquirers) apply as a Guest Student for a specific length of time (1-2 weeks). This time allows them to get a sense of community life and whether they want to apply to become a short-term resident. They follow the AZC daily schedule completely, abide by the Shingi; Practicing Harmony (AZC Guidelines), engage in work practice, and pay the usual Guest Student rate. They also have regular practice discussions with the Head Teacher and other Practice Leaders.
2. Short-term Resident.
The Inquirer applies to be a resident after completing a Guest Student residency. The Inquirer, if accepted, is considered a short-term resident for a set length of time (1-6 months).
Some Inquirers may be interested in staying only for a predetermined length of time. For example, someone might be interested in becoming a resident for 3 months, during their summer break while they are in college, or while taking a sabbatical. Anyone staying as a resident for less than six months is considered a short-term resident. Their training may simply be following the AZC daily schedule (to the extent their outside work will allow), the Shingi: Practicing Harmony, having regular practice discussions, taking on Doan and house jobs, and exploring life in community.
3. Long-term Resident.
A long term resident is someone living at AZC for six months or longer. While the long term resident pays rent and usually has outside work obligations, in some cases they may be in a position to work at AZC without outside commitments, and possibly receive some reduction in rent.
Training for a Long-term Resident includes continuing to follow the schedule (to the extent their outside work will allow), the Shingi: Practicing Harmony, keeping in touch with the Head Teacher and/or Practice Leadership, sitting at least one longer meditation retreat per year when possible, and weekly Doan and house jobs.
4. Transitional (added in 2011)
Under special circumstances a person may, in the short term, be considered as a “Transitional Resident.” This kind of resident follows the Shingi: Practicing Harmony has regular check-ins with the Head Teacher, kitchen privileges, and a weekly house job. Unlike other residents, the transitional resident is under no obligation to participate in the zendo schedule, and does not receive a tuition waiver for AZC’s paid programs. Room fees are typically higher than the practice resident’s fees, as the transitional resident will have fewer temple responsibilities.
RESIDENTIAL ZEN TRAINING PRACTICES
Zazen and Service
Zazen is the core of our practice. In the Soto Zen tradition, zazen, formal service, and ceremonies are the bodily enactment of our vow to awaken for the benefit of all beings. The daily schedule and all of our activities are designed to support the mission of the Austin Zen Center. Beginning zazen instruction is given by senior practitioners every Saturday morning and all new residential practitioners are encouraged to attend this class multiple times. A “Next Step” class is offered once a month and is also highly encouraged.
Schedule and Calendar
All residents are expected to participate in the Monday through Saturday daily schedule (zazen, service and Soji) in accordance with what they indicated in their Practice Agreement *. Residents are expected to let the Director know if they are not able to fulfill their agreement. Residents are also expected to participate in the following events, to the extent that their outside work schedule allows: one-day sittings, weekend retreats, Sangha events (like Sangha Work Day, Spring Fair, Annual Meeting), Saturday morning lectures; monthly full moon Bodhisattva Ceremony; plus various other events (such as Buddha’s Birthday and Buddha’s Enlightenment).
* Outside obligations must not consistently interfere with participation in the Weekly Schedule. In such cases, a resident will be asked to move out to open up space for others.
Practice Discussion and Practice Leaders
Regular meetings to discuss any aspect of Zen Practice with an authorized practice leader are an essential part of the training at AZC. While Zen Center students are encouraged to see more than one person for practice discussion, having a regular and intimate connection with one practice leader is very important. Each AZC resident must make a commitment to sign up to see their practice leader for regular monthly meetings.
Every resident must complete the Practice Agreement document twice a year, as well as to fill out and submit a monthly calendar of commitment at the start of each month as well as a self-assessment from the previous month. This practice is part of one’s Zen Training, and is intended to help clarify one’s intention and formal commitment to the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly schedule. This practice helps define how each person is training in the temple and allows each person both to be supported in their practice, as well as to support others in the community. If basic schedule commitments cannot be met, residents shall remain in dialog with their practice leader and maintain responsibility for informing the Head Teacher.
Study, Classes, and Lectures
Buddhism, with its 2,500-year history has many schools of Buddhist thought as well as many styles of practice. Study is traditional in Zen monasteries as zazen and intellectual understanding inform and deepen each other. Various aspects of Buddhist practice are explored in classes offered throughout the year. Each class meets once a week for an hour and a half, usually for six weeks. Residential practitioners are encouraged to take at least two classes per year.
Residents commit to attend Saturday morning Dharma talks by AZC or visiting Buddhist teachers unless outside work conflicts are unavoidable. See “Practice Agreement” above.
Silent, communal work has been traditional in Zen monasteries for centuries. Eihei Dogen Zenji put a great deal of emphasis on work as practice, particularly in the kitchen, as a way to bring our zazen practice into our everyday life. In this spirit, all residents are expected to wholeheartedly participate in the various work practice opportunities in the temple. Each resident supports the community by contributing a few hours of work each week. This work includes rotating weekly temple jobs. The house-job coordinator will also be a rotating position, and is responsible for maintaining the job rotation list and speaking to others about their assignments. If for some reason you are unable to fulfill any of these responsibilities, please secure a replacement and inform the coordinator of the change. The House-Job schedule should remain in the upstairs library bathroom and be kept updated.
At Oryoki meals we chant, “May we realize the emptiness of the three wheels: giver, receiver and gift.” When we thoroughly understand our relationship to the food we eat, we understand our connection to everyone and everything. Mindfully taking care of the kitchen space, communal implements and ingredients is an offering to the resident community as well as to guests, and is an important part of our residential Zen training. All residents are expected to follow the “Leaving No Trace” guidelines posted in the kitchen.
All residents participate in the zendo and Doan Ryo positions as part of their training. Residents are expected to sign up for or be assigned to up to a minimum of three Doan Ryo jobs per week for the morning schedule and, for evening zazen Residents are also expected to fill in as needed. Speak with the Ino or Head Priest about your assignment, training and scheduling.
Temple Cleaning and House Jobs
Mindful care of our practice environment is not separate from mindful care of one’s body and mind. Immediately following morning service there is a brief work period (Soji) during which students engage in silent mindful cleaning of the temple. As we take responsibility for our practice place and ourselves, our efforts encourage others in the same way. If, because of your work schedule, you are unable to attend Soji, please ask the House Jobs Coordinator to give you an assignment that can be done at another time. Besides daily Soji, each resident has a weekly house job assigned by the Coordinator. House job responsibilities may include: bathroom cleaning, opening the building for morning or evening zazen, laundry, and trash/recycle days.
All residential practitioners are expected to practice in relation to the 16-bodhisattva precepts. Please see AZC’s Ethical Standards (posted on AZC’s website) for a specific discussion of practicing with the bodhisattva precepts. In addition, all residential practitioners agree not to initiate a sexual and/or romantic relationship with any other resident at the Zen Center until both parties have been in the building for at least six months. The intention of this agreement is to allow each new resident the opportunity to fully engage in a concentrated period of practice without distraction.
In order to support new students in finding their way in practice without the distractions and complications of forming new sexual or romantic relationships, please observe the following guidelines:
- Do not begin a new sexual relationship with another resident when either person has practiced at AZC for less than six months (residentially or as part of the wider sangha) or is under the age of eighteen. This includes refraining from expressing your romantic or sexual interest to that person.
- Those considering starting a new romantic relationship with another resident should consult with a practice leader, to help address the often conflicting demands of residential practice and a new relationship.
- If you are part of a couple, please maintain behavior that supports residential practice. Do not isolate yourself from the community, respect silent times, and be sensitive about public displays of affection.
Drugs and Alcohol
Alcohol or drug intoxication within AZC is not appropriate and is cause for concern and possible intervention. There is no smoking in the building. Please do not smoke close to the entrances of any AZC building.
Failure to follow these guidelines may result in you being asked to leave residency, and to not being accepted for future residency.
GENERAL RESIDENTIAL POLICY AND INFORMATION
All fees are paid to the Zen Center Administrator at the first of each month unless other arrangements have been made. On-going residential practitioners pay a monthly room and tuition fee (called “RT”). Tuition includes most paid programs, including sittings, retreats, classes and other events. Transitional residents do not receive tuition.
A $20 key deposit and a $150 cleaning deposit are required of all residents when moving into the building.
All residents are expected to be pledging members of the Austin Zen Center. See the AZC website or AZC Administrator for details on how to become a member.
Termination of Residency
If either the resident or the AZC Practice Committee decides that residency is no longer appropriate or desirable, the expectation of at least one-month’s written notice can be given by either party before termination of residency. Make sure you speak with your practice leader during your transition out of residential practice. Departing residents are asked to leave a forwarding address with the office and to make forwarding mail arrangements.
Before leaving for any absence longer than a few days, please inform the Head Teacher or the Director. Arranging coverage for zendo and house jobs is each resident’s responsibility for the first week of an absence.
When leaving and returning, residents may offer incense and do three bows in the Zendo, behind the bowing mat.
Please do not make any changes to your room, including the walls, the structure, and the fixtures, without speaking with the property manager or the Residential Director. Do not use push-pins in the wood trim.
Visitors and Non-resident Sangha Members
AZC is open to many non-resident practitioners who come daily, or just occasionally, for zazen, lectures, and other practice-related activities. People also come here as guests, as guest students, and to participate in outside groups. It is our practice to welcome all with cordiality and friendliness.
Those coming here for the first time may not understand the forms and practices in the building. Please offer assistance or information as appropriate.
Recycling cans are in the kitchen, as well as outdoors by the carriage house. At Austin Zen Center we recycle paper, plastic, metal, glass and compostables. Compost buckets should be emptied in the compost pile in the garden, and the bucket rinsed out in the outdoor sink area. Please do not leave any kind of toxic waste anywhere at AZC, including car batteries.
Quiet time in the building is between 10:00 p.m. until after the end of the morning program (M-F). During this time please be sensitive with conversations in the public areas, electronic media without headphones, musical instruments, vacuum cleaners or laundry. Musical instruments may be played in rooms from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. only. Please be respectful of the needs of your neighbors, for the building is not sound-proofed and noise is easily heard through room doors.
Relatives and friends may occasionally stay overnight in a resident’s room when the resident is present. Residents are asked to let the other residents know of their guests presence in the building. Residents who would like to have a friend stay in their room on a regular basis are asked to discuss the practical and practice implications beforehand with the director and their practice leader. It is important that we always know who is in the building and how long they are staying.
AZC has one guest room that may be available under certain conditions to close friends and family members of current residents at a reduced rate, subject to availability; this reduced price for a guest room is a one-time per year offering for no more than five days. Please speak with the Residential Director (or the Head Priest) for more information and to make arrangements.
Residents are responsible for providing bedding and towels and cleaning the room after use.
The kitchen is part of the public space of the temple, in addition to its use by residents and AZC staff, guests and visiting teachers. Personal items kept in the kitchen space should be clearly labeled with your name and date. Please designate items “free” so that others know if they are available for general consumption. And please label “sangha” any items that are being saved for specific future events.
During sesshins or retreats where meals are served the kitchen area is a silent work space. Before such events it is especially important to clear extraneous items from the refrigerator.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
Taking responsibility for building security and the safety of others is an important part of being a residential practitioner at AZC. Any resident encountering someone they do not recognize in the building should ask that person who they are and why they are there. This can be done in a welcoming and friendly manner. If you are uncomfortable doing this alone you may ask another resident or staff person for assistance.
AZC is not responsible for personal items kept in your rooms. If you are concerned for the safety of your personal items think about purchasing insurance to cover your valuables. It is recommended that you keep the door to your room locked, unless you are in a room with an emergency exit. You may obtain a key for your room from the office. Residents must report stolen keys or those lost with ID immediately to the administrator.
Answering the Front Door
Residents are responsible for answering the door. When answering the front door, please be friendly, welcoming, and helpful to all of our visitors. If, for whatever reason, you cannot do this, feel free to let another resident answer the door.
If you are answering the door out of regular zendo or event hours, please do not let visitors leave the front lobby area without being accompanied by a resident. Do not allow visitors to wander in the building unescorted. Please immediately report any dangerous or suspicious activity to the Head Priest, Director, or the Administrator. If you feel you need to, do not hesitate to ask for help.
Mentally distressed or disturbed people
If a person who comes to the door asking for assistance seems off (within reason), they should be asked to wait on the front porch while the resident obtains what might be needed: food, information, etc. Overnight shelter and other city services information that may be given out is located on the bulletin board in the kitchen.
The doorwatch job of locking all doors in the evening is vital to the security of the building, as well as residents’ safety. Even though all residents can be mindful of keeping the door locked, the doorwatch is the responsible person unless they have found a substitute (in the event they are unable to perform the function).
No open flames are allowed in residents’ rooms, including lighted cigarettes, unattended candles, and heaters with electric or exposed filaments. Enclosed electric heaters are acceptable. When chidening, allow hot charcoal to cool in ceramic container and ensure that incense bits are extinguished before placing them in the glass jar provided. To ensure we remain within the City’s fire code, please check with the property manager if you have any questions. It is permissible to burn incense in your room only when attended. Smoking is not permitted inside any AZC building. Fire drills and emergency evacuation drills will be held periodically, and residents are required to participate in any scheduled drills. Use doors as fire-breaks. Residents who discover a fire in the building are asked to shout “FIRE” repeatedly and call 911 to report the fire. Do not try to put out a fire before first giving the alarm.
Once every month the residents meet to discuss issues relevant to practice together as a residential community. Meetings will be scheduled so that all may attend, unless someone is away for a long duration. The meetings are facilitated by the Residential Director, who will take suggestions for agenda topics and is available to hear residents’ concerns, complaints, or suggestions, which they will then bring up at a staff or practice committee meeting.
Once per year the residents may plan a residents and staff-only retreat. This may occur off-site. All residents are expected to attend. This may be in place of that month’s sitting. The residents’ retreat is intended to support and investigate residential community practice and reinforce and renew the residential vision of sangha.
Head Teacher – The Head Teacher is the spiritual head of Zen Center. They are appointed by the Board of Directors and has primary responsibility for teaching at Zen Center. They are responsible for every aspect of practice in the temple including teaching, chairing the Practice Committee, speaking with students, lecturing, and all formal ceremonies.
Practice Leader – A practice leader is someone who has been authorized to hold practice discussions, give public talks, lead classes, and possibly workshops or retreats. Basic requirements for being a being a practice leader include being a former Shuso and invitation by the Head Teacher.
Shuso or Head Student – The Shuso or head student is a senior practitioner who is appointed for one practice period to provide an example for other students to follow.
TRADITIONAL SENIOR STAFF POSITIONS
Director (Administrative Head) – The director conducts the overall administration of the temple. S/he supervises the senior staff, chairs senior staff meetings, reviews applications for residency, co-ordinates with other practice centers, reviews the budget and attends various meetings with both residents and administration.
Ino (Head of the Zendo) – The Ino works with the Head Priest and is responsible for the everyday details of zendo practice in the temple. The Ino is the heart of formal practice in the zendo and Buddha Hall, supervising, attending, and assigning staffing for all sesshins and ceremonies.
Tenzo (Head of the Kitchen) – The Tenzo is responsible for the making food offerings, meal planning and execution, supervision of a kitchen crew, and maintenance of the kitchen as a place of whole-hearted practice.
Work Leader/Guest Student Manager – The Work Leader works closely with guest students.
S/he is responsible for helping all practitioners to understand work as practice. The Work Leader assigns soji tasks and temple jobs, and generally oversees temple cleanliness and basic upkeep.
Shika (Guest Manager) – The Shika is responsible for housing in the temple. The Shika also manages guest offerings for retreats, cleans guest rooms, oversees the renovation of student rooms, when necessary, and helps to makes all feel welcome.
PLEASE NOTE: When these traditional Senior Staff roles are not filled by staff members or volunteers, residents are expected to step in and help out with the tasks associated with each role, especially with assisting the set-up, organization, and clean-up of AZC’s paid programs (retreats, workshops, classes, etc.)
SMALL VERSES FREQUENTLY CHANTED AT AZC
An unsurpassed, penetrating, and perfect Dharma
Is rarely met with, even in a hundred thousand million kalpas.
Having it to see and listen to, to remember and accept,
I vow to taste the truth of the Tathagata’s words.
(Jp.) Mujo jin jin mi myo no ho wa
Hyaku sen man go ni mo ai-o koto katashi
Ware ima ken-mon shi ju-ji suru koto o etari
Negawakuwa nyorai no shin-jitsu-gi o geshi tatematsuran
May our intention equally extend to every being and place,
With the true merit of Buddha’s Way.
Beings are numberless, I vow to save them.
Delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to end them.
Dharma-gates are boundless, I vow to enter them.
Buddha’s Way is unsurpassable, I vow to become it.
(Jp.) Shu-jo mu-hen sei-gan-do
Bon-no mu-jin sei-gan-dan
Ho-mon mu-ryo sei-gan-gaku
Butsu-do mu-jo sei-gan-jo
Dai zai ge dappuku
Mu sō fu ku denne
Hi bu nyorai kyo
Kōdo sho shu jo (x 2)
Great robe of liberation,
Field far beyond form and emptiness,
Wearing the Tathagata’s teaching,
Saving all beings.
All Buddhas, ten directions, three times,
All honored ones, Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas,
Wisdom beyond wisdom, maha prajna paramita.
(Jp.) Ji ho san shi i shi fu,
Shi son bu sa mo ko sa
Mo ko ho ja ho ro mi
SOME TERMS USED AT AUSTIN ZEN CENTER
Buddha tray: A formal food offering (to Manjusri). Stop and bow when it is carried past.
Chiden: Person who cleans censor and takes care of altars.
Densho: The large bell used to announce services and lectures.
Dharani: An invocation transliterated from Sanskrit often with yogic powers.
Doan: The person who keeps time in the zendo and sounds the bells.
Dokusan: A formal, face-to-face interview with a past or present Abbess or Abbot.
Doshi: The priest who officiates at zazen, service or ceremonies.
Fukudo: The person who sounds the han to announce zendo events, and strikes the
mokugyo or drum to accompany chanting.
Fukuten: Second-in-command to the tenzo in the kitchen. The person who directly
supervises the kitchen crew and sees that the tenzo’s menus and instructions are carried out.
Gassho: (Literally: “palms together”) A mudra expressing nonduality. The palms are
joined so that the fingertips are at the height of the nose. The hands are
approximately one fist width away from the face.
Han: The wooden block near the zendo, inscribed with a reminder about Impermanence; struck to announce zazen.
Inkin: Portable bell carried in processions.
Ino: The senior staff position of meditation hall (zendo) manager and supervisor of
Jikido: Zendo hall monitor who welcomes people and assists newcomers to their seat.
Jiko: The person who carries incense and/or lecture materials for the doshi.
Jundo: Ceremonial morning greeting by a leader, typically at the beginning of morning
zazen. As the priest walks past, please raise your hands in gassho.
Kaisando: Founder’s Hall upstairs, where ancestors are chanting and where
memorial services are held for our Japanese founder, Shunryu Suzuki.
Kinhin: Walking meditation, usually between two periods of zazen.
Kokyo: The individual who leads the chants for services.
Mokugyo: A red lacquered drum sometimes used as a “heartbeat” for chants.
Mudra: Hand or body position or gesture with symbolic meaning.
Okesa: A large patched robe made like Buddha’s robe, worn by priests.
Oryoki: Formal style of eating in the zendo, used during sesshin and on other occasions.
Practice discussion: A formal, face-to-face interview with a practice leader.
Rakusu: A small patched neck robe made like Buddha’s robe, worn by people who have
received precepts in an ordination.
Samue: Traditional Japanese work clothing.
Seiza: Kneeling meditation posture with buttocks resting on heels.
Service: A period of bowing, chanting, and making offerings to the Buddhas and
Sesshin: Literally “to unify or touch the mind.” An intensive all-day schedule of zazen,
lecture, work, and meals, lasting from one to seven days.
Shashu: Mudra used in standing or walking meditation with the right hand wrapped around the left fist held at the level of the solar plexus.
Shika: The senior staff position of Guest Manager.
Shoten: The person who sounds the densho to announce events in the Buddha Hall.
Silence: Practice of abstaining from speaking or making contact with other people.
Functional talking can be practiced as necessary, removed from the common area.
Soji: A brief period of mindful work; temple cleaning.
Sutra: A scripture attributed to Shakyamuni Buddha.
Tenzo: The senior staff position of Head Cook.
Zabuton: A rectangular, flat cushion used for zazen.
Zafu: A round cushion used for zazen.
Zagu: Bowing cloth used by priests.
Zazen: Total awareness in an upright posture.
Zendo: The meditation hall.
Rules of the Road for Residential Practice
- On keeping the Bodhi mind
You must first make a firm decision to attain enlightenment and help others. You already have the refuges and precepts. Know when to keep them and when to break them, when they are open and when they are closed. Let go of your small self and become your true self.
If you do not have the mind of the Way, then all this hard work is meaningless and not beneficial.
- On mindfulness
Know that your opinions are only opinions. To cling to your opinions is to destroy your practice. Do not believe your way is the right way. This is true Buddhism.
Do not go where you have no business. Do not listen to talk that does not concern you.
Make sure outside doors are locked at night.
Only adjust the zendo thermostat if it is your responsibility.
Keep the front porch light on during zazen and throughout the night.
Do not make the bad karma of greed, anger, or ignorance.
Taking a leap into the unknown is called a glimpse, an opening.
Doing it continuously, moment to moment, is embodying or manifesting it.
Having an opening is seeing it;
Great Enlightenment is being it.
- On conduct
Follow the schedule as you have agreed.
Do not make up standards on your own.
Always act with others. Do not put yourself above others by acting differently. Arrogance is not permitted in the temple.
Money and sex are like a dangerous snake. Handle them very carefully.
At talks and ceremonies, keep the proper posture and dress. Do not talk loudly in the zendo.
If you have business outside the temple that causes you to miss ceremonies or meals, notify the Head Teacher before you leave.
Respect those older than you. Love those younger than you. Keep your mind large and open.
Love, help and care for sick residents. Make sure they have food and medicine.
Be hospitable to guests. Make them welcome and attend to their needs.
When respected people visit the temple, bow to them and speak considerately to them.
Be courteous. Always let others go before you.
Help other people.
Do not gossip.
Do not oversleep.
Do not be frivolous.
Let older and more respected people be seated before you.
Sometimes it is appropriate to stand when a respected, senior person enters the room.
Do not discuss petty temple matters with guests.
Speak well of the temple to others.
Drinking to produce heedlessness or acting out of lust will only make bad karma and destroy your practice. You must be very careful. To make this easier, here, as in most temples, indulging in alcohol and recreational drugs is prohibited.
Do not delude yourself into thinking you are a great and free person. This is not true Buddhism.
Attend only to your own practice. Do not judge the actions of others.
Follow the precepts as faithfully as you can.
Buddha practiced unmoving under the Bodhi tree for six years,
And for nine years Bodhidharma sat silently in Shaolin.
If you can break the wall of your self,
You will become infinite in time and space.
- On speech
Do not make up standards on your own.
Refrain from giving unsolicited opinions or stating your view when it serves no purpose. You must keep the stopper in the bottle. Only open it when necessary.
Always speak well, in the manner of a bodhisattva. Do not use vulgar language in the temple.
Listen from the heart, that is, give your full attention to the words of others and listen without judging, preparing a response, or comparing. Listening from the heart means that you listen with an attitude of compassion, kindness, and humility.
Is what you are about to say an improvement on silence?
Say only what is true and useful and timely. If any one of these criteria isn’t met, then silence is the wise form of speech. This is such a simple formula and easy to recall even in moments of strong emotion, but it is very hard to execute even under the best of conditions because the grasping mind corrupts speech faster than it does action. -Phillip Moffitt
- On eating
Follow the schedule as you have agreed.
Do not make up standards on your own.
An eminent teacher said, “A day without work is a day without eating.” We support ourselves by the work we do to maintain this temple for the wider Sangha.
There are two kinds of work: inside work and outside work. Inside work is keeping clear mind. Outside work is cutting off selfish desires and helping others.
First work, then eat.
Do not make unnecessary noise while eating.
While eating, attend only to your own practice. Do not be concerned with the actions of others.
Accept what is served with gratitude. Do not cling to your likes and dislikes.
Do not seek satisfaction in eating. Eat only to support yourself in your practice.
Though you may eat good food all your life, your body will die.
The great way is not difficult.
Simply cut off all thought of good and bad.
Salt is salty.
Sugar is sweet. -Sengstan
- On formal practice
Follow the schedule as you have agreed.
Do not make up standards on your own.
During formal practice, act with other people.
Do not be lazy.
Out of thoughtfulness for others, bathe frequently, especially the feet.
During chanting, chant with your ears. Blend in with others. Be willing to accept feedback and instruction from the Ino and/or Head Priest.
During sitting, follow the breath.
Perceive the true meaning of chanting and sitting, and act accordingly.
Understand that you have accumulated bad karma, which is like a big mountain. Keep this in mind as you bow in repentance.
Our karma has no self-nature, but is created by our mind. If our mind is extinguished, our karma will be extinguished. When we see both as empty, this is true repentance. We bow to see true nature and help others.
Supreme, perfect enlightenment is bowing to someone and not thinking whether you like them or not.”
- On the dharma talk
When you listen to the words of the Zen teacher, keep your mind clear. Do not be attached to the words. Cut off all thought and pierce the true meaning.
Do not think, “I already have great understanding; I have no use for this speech.” This is delusion.
If you have a question, put it to the Zen teacher when s/he invites comment.
If a snake drinks water, the water becomes venom. If a cow drinks water, the water becomes milk. If you cling to greed, hatred, or ignorance, you create birth and death. If you keep clear, you become Buddha.
To study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to see the true nature of the self; to see the true nature of the self is to see that you are an interconnected part of the whole universe.
The more abundant the clay, the bigger the Buddha.
What happens if you realize that your mind is unlimited, boundless, and has always been from the beginningless beginning to the endless end? Your priorities about everything change immediately. You stop operating out of fear of losing—losing control, losing concepts, losing identity, losing things, losing your mind. What do you call that when you stop fearing loss? Liberation. -Dogen
Austin Zen Center Residency Benefits & Requirements 2020
2018 Room Rates:
$550 – $8000/month
[One time $20.00 key deposit and $150.00 cleaning deposit required]
What is included in Rent:
Household use: kitchen and laundry, including tea, soap, detergents, cleaning supplies, and toilet paper.
Utilities: gas, water, electricity and wifi/internet.
Tuition: for most classes, workshops, and retreats.
Practice Agreement Update: monthly
AZC daily schedule: (zazen, service, soji; what works within other commitments)
Saturday Morning Program: required unless described in practice agreement
Sangha Events and ceremonies: required unless described in practice agreement
Participation in 1-2 classes/year
Participation in 3 or more sittings or retreats/year
Agreement to maintain Shingi; Practicing in Harmony with the Community and Precepts
Doan jobs: 2Xs/week and filling in as needed.
Soji; temple cleaning
House jobs: laundry, kitchen & bathroom cleaning, trash/recycling day
Practice discussion: 1X/month minimum
Monthly resident’s meetings, if applicable
Membership: must maintain active AZC membership and pledge
Type of Resident:
Inquirer: 1-2 weeks
Short-term Resident: 1-6 months
Long-term Resident: 6 months or longer