Saturday, 21 March 2009

Retreat Day with Rev.Olwen

The other week a couple of us from the West Wight Sangha joined the Newport Soto Zen group for a day retreat. The Newport group is affiliated to Reading Buddhist Priory, one of several small temples of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives in Britain. The Order is based at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey which is located in a remote moorland area of Northumberland, to the South of Hexham, a fine location for a monastery. The Reading Priory is run by Rev. Olwen who join us for the day and led the ceremonies.

There are many different types of meditation in the Buddhist tradition.

In the Sōtō Zen tradition it is commonly known as “zazen”, a Japanese word describing a practice that is sometimes called “serene reflection meditation”. Zazen is essentially about “just sitting”. One adopts an alert, but relaxed sitting posture with the choice of using a chair, a meditation bench, or a cushion for the cross legged position. You simply sit still with eyes open and a relaxed but alert mind, “neither trying to think nor trying not to think”.
A metaphor sometimes used to describe this form of meditation is that of a boundless blue sky. Clouds may pass by, rain, winds or storms may pass through, but all the while the boundless sky remains and simply holds all these things, allowing them to arise, take their course and pass on. So, too, you sit still with all the arising of your thoughts, feelings and sensations, allowing them to arise naturally, but without latching onto them, just letting them go and pass on. In this way, you deepen your intuitive knowledge and trust of your true nature, opening your heart to Compassion, Love and Wisdom and your willingness to do what is good to do in your ordinary daily life.

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