Sunday, August 27, 2006

News from the sangha

Last week, Joko Beck gave her approval for Peg Syverson to offer daisan, private practice discussion, for Zen students. This is very exciting news for the Ordinary Mind Sangha! It means we have, for the first time, a resident teacher.

Peg will see students during the Sunday morning zazen periods, and at other times by appointment. Daisan may be arranged by contacting Peg in advance by email (, phone (512.689.5301) or in person. The format is for the student to wait outside the daisan room until the teacher rings the bell, then enter, do a full bow (or standing bow if you wish) toward the altar. Then do a standing bow to the teacher, and be seated. Please state your name and your practice at the start of each practice interview. If you do not have a practice, please let Peg know. At the end of daisan, do a final standing bow to the teacher and leave.

In addition, this new format means a new role in the zendo—timekeeper. The timekeeper will ring the bells to time the sitting periods. The first set of three bells is for the start of zazen, following the incense offering. The timekeeper sounds two bells to end the sitting period and hits the clackers to start kinhin (walking meditation): one time to signal people to spread out evenly for kinhin, and the second time for the start of slow kinhin. If you wish to use the bathroom during kinhin, please wait until the second clacker and then leave the zendo. The timekeeper hits the clackers after five minutes of slow kinhin to begin fast kinhin, and again after three minutes of fast kinhin to signal people to return to their seats. Once everyone is still, the timekeeper rings three bells to begin the second zazen period.

The timekeeper ends the second sitting period with two bells and uses the clackers to signal the brief kinhin period before service (five minutes). Then the timekeeper lights the charcoal and one stick of incense to begin service. At the end of service there will be a talk or reading and discussion, led by the teacher. Then the timekeeper will read the final eko, lead the closing chant and ring bells for the final bows.

During the sitting periods, the timekeeper sits facing the center of the room and acts as a monitor to help anyone who may need assistance.

If there is any confusion about this new role, please let me know! This means we now have three roles (in addition to the teacher): The person who does the clacker rolldown in the kitchen to call students to zazen, the person who offers incense at the start of zazen, and the timekeeper. We will be glad to train people in these roles. If you are interested in learning, please let Peg, John, or Jeanie know.


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