Our fundamental practice is living a life of non-harming (ahimsa) – this means embracing an ethical vision that considers the impact of all our daily actions on all beings throughout the world, and doing what we can to reduce suffering and increase joy and beauty. As the conventional way of life in modern consumerist cultures like our own causes suffering and harm to many beings in many ways, this practice means deeply questioning and challenging this conventional pattern. The way of life we have been led to in response to this practice might be called a kind of renunciation, a way of life that was chosen also by the Buddha, and innumerable other religious contemplatives throughout history.
In addition to this ethical foundation, we practice a variety of meditational arts that deepen our awareness of the present moment, and help reveal the clarity, compassion, and joy of our original nature. Our central form of meditation is still-sitting in focused presence, called zazen in Japanese, and rooted in the Yogic tradition from India. We do not adhere strictly to any one lineage, but we sit with eyes open and with particular attention on posture and breath. In order to receive the inspiration of nature, and to help open ourselves to the wider world, we generally sit outside, unless the weather is particularly forbidding. This is one aspect of our sangha that seems to stand out to many new participants, although, of course, this practice was the original style in Buddhism and many other meditation traditions.
We also practice walking meditation, Taiji/qigong, and other exercise and movement meditations. Free instruction is available.
Finally, we have a daily vocal practice based on the melodic frameworks used in Indian classical music. These musical patterns, called raga, were created over centuries in a yogic context, and practicing with them using our voice offers great opportunities to enrich our spiritual practice. This “Nada Yoga” (unity through sound) practice can be very simple, or very sophisticated, depending on one’s level of interest and investigation. Instruction is offered to anyone interested.