About a year after I arrived in Japan, I started going to a temple to do Zazen, or Zen meditation. It was held at 6:00am on Sundays. At that time, I didn’t have a car, so I rode my bicycle to the temple. It took about 30 minutes. Before we started meditation, we cleaned the Zen-do hall. There were five of us – the priest, three men, and me.
We did Zazen with the doors and windows open. It was nice and cool in summer, although I panicked when a bee or large insect came in through the doors. I tried not to disturb the other people, but I’m sure they could see me panic! In winter, it was so cold that my fingers and toes turned blue!
After Zazen, we went to a different room to copy the sutras. It was my first time to use a brush and ink to write. I’m sure my writing was very bad, but the others always said it was good. They were very kind. After copying the sutras, we drank matcha and listened to a lecture by the priest. This was 17 years ago, so at that time, my Japanese was not very good. I couldn’t understand much.
When we finished, one of the men took me to a room overlooking the temple garden, and we talked about many things. I enjoyed talking to him. He spoke slowly so I could understand him. He was the president of a large company in the area.
After Zazen, I went home, got changed, and went to work. I felt peaceful throughout the day. I can’t remember why I stopped going to the temple. Maybe I needed more time to study for my Japanese tests.
Last year, I went to Zazen classes at a local Buddhist centre. Every month, we had a lecture and then Zazen practice. I was pleased because I could understand the lectures. I was also happy because the Zazen practice was in a room, with an air conditioner and a heater. (I know, I shouldn’t think like this because endurance is part of the training. I need to practice more!) 🙂