Practicing Harmony

Practicing Harmony

Rules of the Road for Residential Practice

1 On keeping the Bodhi mind

You must first make a firm decision to attain enlightenment and help others. You already have the refuges and precepts. Know when to keep them and when to break them, when they are open and when they are closed. Let go of your small self and become your true self.

If you do not have the mind of the Way, then all this hard work is meaningless and not beneficial.


2 On mindfulness

Know that your opinions are only opinions. To cling to your opinions is to destroy your practice. Do not believe your way is the right way. This is true Buddhism.

Do not go where you have no business. Do not listen to talk that does not concern you.

Make sure outside doors are locked at night.

Only adjust the zendo thermostat if it is your responsibility.

Keep the front porch light on during zazen and throughout the night.

Do not make the bad karma of greed, anger, or ignorance.

Taking a leap into the unknown is called a glimpse, an opening.
Doing it continuously, moment to moment, is embodying or manifesting it.
Having an opening is seeing it;
Great Enlightenment is being it.


3 On conduct

Follow the schedule as you have agreed.

Do not make up standards on your own.

Always act with others. Do not put yourself above others by acting differently. Arrogance is not permitted in the temple.

Money and sex are like a dangerous snake. Handle them very carefully.

At talks and ceremonies, keep the proper posture and dress. Do not talk loudly in the zendo.

If you have business outside the temple that causes you to miss ceremonies or meals, notify the Head Teacher before you leave.

Respect those older than you. Love those younger than you. Keep your mind large and open.

Love, help and care for sick residents. Make sure they have food and medicine.

Be hospitable to guests. Make them welcome and attend to their needs.

When respected people visit the temple, bow to them and speak considerately to them.

Be courteous. Always let others go before you.

Help other people.

Do not gossip.

Do not oversleep.

Do not be frivolous.

Let older and more respected people be seated before you.

Sometimes it is appropriate to stand when a respected, senior person enters the room.

Do not discuss petty temple matters with guests.

Speak well of the temple to others.

Drinking to produce heedlessness or acting out of lust will only make bad karma and destroy your practice. You must be very careful. To make this easier, here, as in most temples, indulging in alcohol and recreational drugs is prohibited.

Do not delude yourself into thinking you are a great and free person. This is not true Buddhism.

Attend only to your own practice. Do not judge the actions of others.

Follow the precepts as faithfully as you can.

Buddha practiced unmoving under the Bodhi tree for six years,
And for nine years Bodhidharma sat silently in Shaolin.
If you can break the wall of your self,
You will become infinite in time and space.

-Seung Sahn

4 On speech

Do not make up standards on your own.

Refrain from giving unsolicited opinions or stating your view when it serves no purpose. You must keep the stopper in the bottle. Only open it when necessary.

Always speak well, in the manner of a bodhisattva. Do not use vulgar language in the temple.

Listen from the heart, that is, give your full attention to the words of others and listen without judging, preparing a response, or comparing. Listening from the heart means that you listen with an attitude of compassion, kindness, and humility.

Is what you are about to say an improvement on silence?

Say only what is true and useful and timely. If any one of these criteria isn’t met, then silence is the wise form of speech. This is such a simple formula and easy to recall even in moments of strong emotion, but it is very hard to execute even under the best of conditions because the grasping mind corrupts speech faster than it does action.

-Phillip Moffitt

5 On eating

Follow the schedule as you have agreed.

Do not make up standards on your own.

An eminent teacher said, “A day without work is a day without eating.” We support ourselves by the work we do to maintain this temple for the wider Sangha.

There are two kinds of work: inside work and outside work. Inside work is keeping clear mind. Outside work is cutting off selfish desires and helping others.

First work, then eat.

Do not make unnecessary noise while eating.

While eating, attend only to your own practice. Do not be concerned with the actions of others.

Accept what is served with gratitude. Do not cling to your likes and dislikes.

Do not seek satisfaction in eating. Eat only to support yourself in your practice.

Though you may eat good food all your life, your body will die.

The great way is not difficult.
Simply cut off all thought of good and bad.
Salt is salty.
Sugar is sweet.


6 On formal practice

Follow the schedule as you have agreed.

Do not make up standards on your own.

During formal practice, act with other people.

Do not be lazy.

Out of thoughtfulness for others, bathe frequently, especially the feet.

During chanting, chant with your ears. Blend in with others. Be willing to accept feedback and instruction from the Ino and/or Head Priest.

During sitting, follow the breath.

Perceive the true meaning of chanting and sitting, and act accordingly.

Understand that you have accumulated bad karma, which is like a big mountain. Keep this in mind as you bow in repentance.

Our karma has no self-nature, but is created by our mind. If our mind is extinguished, our karma will be extinguished. When we see both as empty, this is true repentance. We bow to see true nature and help others.

Supreme, perfect enlightenment is bowing to someone and not thinking whether you like them or not.”


7 On the dharma talk

When you listen to the words of the Zen teacher, keep your mind clear. Do not be attached to the words. Cut off all thought and pierce the true meaning.

Do not think, “I already have great understanding; I have no use for this speech.” This is delusion.

If you have a question, put it to the Zen teacher when s/he invites comment.

If a snake drinks water, the water becomes venom. If a cow drinks water, the water becomes milk. If you cling to greed, hatred, or ignorance, you create birth and death. If you keep clear, you become Buddha.

To study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to see the true nature of the self; to see the true nature of the self is to see that you are an interconnected part of the whole universe.

The more abundant the clay, the bigger the Buddha.

What happens if you realize that your mind is unlimited, boundless, and has always been from the beginningless beginning to the endless end? Your priorities about everything change immediately. You stop operating out of fear of losing—losing control, losing concepts, losing identity, losing things, losing your mind. What do you call that when you stop fearing loss? Liberation.


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