It has been a long time coming, but finally the Buffalo Zen Dharma Community is meeting in person again. Last month our first in-person event was the half-day meditation event at the Network of Religious Communities from 8:00 AM to 12:30 PM. But on September 6th we started meeting again at the Westminster Presbyterian Church for our full program. It has been about 2.5 years since we were regularly meeting together at Westminster Presbyterian Church. So, in preparation for our meeting in-person while COVID is still around, our Tuesday night Zoom meetings have ended while we work on our new format. During the month of September, our hope is to work out how to maximize the benefits of our pre-COVID meetings while minimizing our health risk exposure.
We are asking those who want to join us to be fully vaccinated including boosters. However, proof of vaccination is not required. We ask that if someone is feeling a bit ill to save their visit for when they are feeling normal. Masks are not required. But if someone is more comfortable wearing a mask during the program, they are encouraged to do so.
The doors to the church opens at 6:30 PM which allows for the space to be set up for the program which starts at 7 PM. It is during this time that some socialization can occur, and questions can be asked. While we work out any problems to a smooth flow of the program during the month of September, we are not offering in-person meditation instructions like we did in the past on the first Tuesday of the month. However, this instruction is expected to start up with the first Tuesday of this coming October. We are not offering refreshments at the end of the program as we did before COVID, so participants are asked to bring their own beverage. Bathroom facilities are available. Meditation pillows (zafus) and mats (zabutons) are provided as well as chairs, meditation benches, and chair back supports. If someone has their own black meditation cushion or mat, and would like to bring it, they are encouraged to do so. People are requested to wear loose, comfortable clothing that does not draw attention such as tank tops, above the knee shorts, or brightly colored clothes. It is always best to not use strong scented products. During Zazen and the talks, participants are asked to remain in silence and to minimize their movements and remain in the meditation posture.
Our program begins with a few announcements, but then transitions into a short liturgy while standing. Next, on meditation nights we have three periods of meditation (Zazen). On talk nights, after the initial liturgy, we have one long meditation period with a recorded talk after. The three-period Zazen nights alternate with the recorded talk nights. The program ends with a short chant and a few brief words. Clean up and further socialization follows after.
In between the periods of Zazen, we have kinhin (walking meditation). One can sit through the walking meditation if they would like, but it is during kinin that people have the opportunity to use the restroom or get something to drink. We are asking those who would like to join us, but have not had any meditation instruction or experience to come to our first Tuesday of this coming October. At that time we will have the ability to offer this instruction in-person and an opportunity to practice Zazen that night. Please let us know if you would like to come October 4th by sending us a message from the "Contact" page. From the pictures above, one can see that everyone is welcome from those who have had formal training such as the students of the Mountains and Rivers Order with their grey robes to those who have not had any experience, but are interested.
David Kozen Williams, MRO has been a formal student in the Mountains and Rivers Order since 1997.