Altar

Schedule

Generally speaking, we meet at 2 times per day, every weekday. High level the schedule is:

  • Monday through Saturday: 0600 CST (Central Standard Time)
  • Monday through Friday: 1200 CST (Central Standard Time)

Due to the nature of schedules, this isn’t always the case. You can view the upcoming 7 days, and if we have sitting, below. Furthermore, I strongly suggest that if you’re new to this, to read the Introduction and Rules below.

Date Morning Afternoon Koan
2023-01-31: Tuesday Yes Yes #22
2023-02-01: Wednesday Yes Yes #22
2023-02-02: Thursday Yes Yes
2023-02-03: Friday Yes Yes #23
2023-02-04: Saturday Yes No #23
2023-02-05: Sunday No No
2023-02-06: Monday Yes Yes
2023-02-07: Tuesday Yes Yes #24

Joining

We host on Zoom. The URL is below. We only support computer/application(s), no phone support.

https://us06web.zoom.us/j/97653358448

Meeting ID: 976 5335 8448

Introduction and Rules

Below you’ll find more details on what to expect sitting with us. There are few rules and best practices. Mainly they are:

  1. Please do not arrive late - it’s not guaranteed you’ll be let in.
  2. Please do not talk during the sitting, or the service (unless you’re the Doan) - it’s incredibly disrespectful and with latency we can’t all chant at the same time.

Outside that, there are some suggestions that would help deepen your experience.

What’s Zazen and Why Do It?

Zazen is the practice of single-mindedness through the art of Zazen, which is seated meditation. The overall goal is to dedicate a period of time where you’re just practicing. Not sleeping, not getting high, not thinking about random things, etc. It’s all about that moment.

This doesn’t mean you need to sit in Lotus Position. Nor does it mean you have to have an altar, wear robes, or so on. It’s about being still, in the moment, whatever form that takes.

That said, sitting and concentrating on the breath is a very useful way to practice single-mindedness. But that said, the breath isn’t really the aim in all this either, it’s about being in the very moment. The breath can help us get there. It’s worth reading Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, for more information on all this.

Arriving and what to expect

Please arrive about 5 minutes early for the sitting (so, if we meet at 0600, please arrive about 0555). Please do not arrive late, as it’s not guaranteed you’ll be let in. Sitting is for 40 minutes, with a brief service in the morning. After both morning and afternoon, there’s a brief discussion and potentially a Koan reading - depending on time and interest.

You’ll enter a waiting room. When I see you, I will add you to the meeting. We use a waiting room over a pass code to facilitate easier joining.

There may be some brief discussion before the service, but I recommend using this time to start centering yourself, and getting ready. Often times in this period, I’m setting up the altar.

Sutras and Daily Service

Our sutra schedule is documented below, as is a link to the current Sutra book until a trimmed version is ready/provided:

attach_file Download PDF

Day of Week Sutra
Monday Heart Sutra (English)
Tuesday Merging of Difference and Unity (English)
Wednesday Precepts (English)
Thursday Heart Sutra (Japanese)
Friday Song of the Grass-Roof Hermitage (English)
Saturday Song of the Jewel Mirror Awareness (English)

Koan Study

We have been reading through “Zen - The Perfect Companion”. It goes under another name, and you can find the PDF for it: under “The Whole World Is A Single Flower”, here

We don’t go through Koans every day, but generally try to go over them a few times in the window a Koan is available (See schedule above)

Suggestions

Due to the nature of anything hosted primarily Online, some sense of dedication of one’s own is vitally important to build a habit in absence of peer pressure. To that end, a dedicated online experience can be fruitful if approached properly. Some suggestions, to that end, include:

  1. Create a Space: Created a dedicated space for practice. It’s much easier to practice away from what normally distracts us. For me, I have a dedicated corner of my library that is used for this purpose. Other stuff is not allowed.
  2. Create a Time: When it’s time to meditate, it’s time to meditate. It’s not time to do something else, nor is it time to check phone/social media/etc. If you’re unable to meditate the entire time, then take a smaller portion of it (start with 10 minutes), and do that. Build up slowly.
  3. Make it Consistent: Try to make as many sessions as you can, on a regular basis. “Waiting for the right time” or “I don’t feel like going today” will lead to never attending or meditating.
  4. Make it Intentional: Habits are often times easier to keep going when we see results. Meditation results are a bit subtle, and are more maintenance long term. Meditation needs to be an intentional part of your day to be effective. It’s not going to give massive benefits forever, nor will make you look “cool”, or “better” than others.
  5. Count your Breaths: One useful technique in all this is to count your breath. Don’t try and eliminate all thought, just “be there” in the moment. Counting the breath is an easy way to help here. Breath out, count 1. Breath in, count 2. Breath out, count 3, … Just remember that the breath is a tool, not necessarily the objective. A good book on all this is Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Other Information

This sitting and service is a part of the Iowa City Zen Center services. This site isn’t intended to replace any information there, but to supplement the online-only portion of the sittings. Please visiting the primary site for more information about other Center offerings.