THE TRADITIONAL WAY
Summary of Reverend Suzuki’s Sesshin Lectures
Nota bene.-Trudy Dixon
Zen Center’s annual week Sesshin (concentrated period of meditation) was held this year from August 10 through August 15th. During the Sesshin, the main theme of the daily lectures given by Master Suzuki was The Traditional Way of Buddhism transmitted from Buddha down through the Patriarchs to the present day. His opening talks concerned the sutras and rituals which are part of the daily zazen practice in the zendō of Soko-ji Temple. The following is a rough paraphrase of some of what Master Suzuki said.
To understand what the “Traditional Way” of Buddhism is and to actualize it in one’s own life are the most important points in being a sincere Buddhist. The Traditional Way of Buddhism, although it is dependent upon no particular form for its expression, the sutras and rituals handed down to us from the Patriarchs are a great help to us. A part of the ritual which may be particularly difficult for Americans to understand and accept is the bowing. After zazen (sitting meditation) we bow to the floor nine times in front of Buddha’s altar, each time touching the forehead to the floor three times and lifting the palms of the hands. (The story of the origin of this practice is that during Buddha’s lifetime, there was a woman who wished to show her respect for Buddha, but who was so poor that she had no gift to give. So she knelt down and touching her forehead to the floor spread out her hair for him to pass over. The deep sincerity of the woman’s devotion inspired the practice of bowing to this day). (more…)