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HouseHolder Zen

Then (when) you can hold fast and act the master and take all sorts of adverse and favorable situations and differing circumstances and fuse them into one whole—a whole that is like empty space, without the least obstruction, profoundly clear, empty and illuminated, never changing even in a hundred eons or a thousand lifetimes, unitary from beginning to end. Only then do you find peace and tranquility.

Yuan wu (1063-1135)

A lay person may experience householder Zen. This is neither a good nor terrible thing to experience. It is, however, different from a monastery dweller. The latter is living in a habitual system (form) of time on task that enables consistency. This consistency expands the experience of regularity. Whereas we lay practitioners live our moments in interplay with a variety of changing conditions and variables. The Dharma is the Dharma in whatever situation it occurs. What I offer here, is a peek into this house holder's day as a way of Zen life, While different in form from monastic sisters and brothers, it is still living by vow and sharing the Dharma.

So, here is a twenty-four hour period of Zen practice in the ordinary. You may even wish to consider your own “Essay of The 24 Hours.”

0530-1200: By habit I wake-up or my wife walks me, or my dog, or alarm. I transition through awakening-a Dharma gate. I breathe deeply. Stretching, I stand and move into my bathroom ritual. Each action in a mindful way exposes the need to complete these steps with clarity and slowness. Dressing and going downstairs I begin relating with other beings. Dog Bailey and I exchange appreciation. I say what a good girl she is and she answers with tail wagging. I give her a treat and medicine and turn on the water for coffee, and kiss my wife.

Watching news, talking with Susan about our day ahead,, and then Zazen on Zoom with members of the Falmouth Sangha. After that I may attend a twelve-step meeting, or write or have Dokusan with a member of the Sangha. Moving through the morning possible coffee the day offers personal contact and opportunities. There may even be a pre-noon nap. Which of course refreshes me to create each moment with honesty, open mindedness and willingness.

Overall the morning is full of activities. On Tuesday and Friday I may teach Zazen at the Senior Center or the Emerson House for those in recovery. I experience the issues and make decisions influenced by my practice. In particular working within moments as they arise. On Mondays I sit Zazen on the beach…ah-awe. Each moment morning is all I need and I walk the path (even with broken legs) exercising with the 10,000 things to experience this form as the absolute.

1200-1600: I spent running errors and doing work around the house and yard. I have my duties and engage each chore and fulfill the moments as they arise. More writing takes place and perhaps some reading as I continue to check email and text as they come in. A major monitoring activity these days is of our younger daughter who is expecting her first child on August 2. The late afternoon is follow-up on emails and other things that arise throughout the day. By 1500 hours, I am getting hungry as I eaten little during the day–dinner is around 1600.

From 0530-2000 there is a rhythm. We eat at 1600 and afterwards watch a movie and or news. We are early to bed between 1800-1900. I check messages once more and read. If it is Tuesday night we have our weekly services at the Congregational Church. I usually arrive around 1800 leaving 2000. Then once in bed, and because I use a CPAP device, I do a form of reclining meditation capping the day with mechanically enhanced deep breathing.

2000-0530: I am a light sleeper and if I awake in the middle of the night I may do Zazen or read before going back to sleep. I may also take notes on ideas and then arise to what surprises me in the morning…

This quick 24 hour outline. Awakes to clarity of initial feelings, then doing Zazen and the remainder living by vow. While I do not attempt to label my experience with a particular term, the awareness that I wish to do as little harm as possible while being open to do good (compassion, loving kindness, actualizing joy and equinimity). As a house holder I see no distinctions rather the sense of moving through the unfolding minutes. Over the years I have gained a sense of joy and gratitude in my Lay-Practice routines. Our Sangha is also a constant source of service and friendship that wears well as practice breathing in strength and breathing out calm.

Having internalized impermanence, non-ego, and Dukkha as life, the great meaning is a companion to be appreaciated more and more. Dukka happens and how I respond, is the state of my practice of living by vow (Bodhisattva and Priest) actualizing the paramitas.

I experience joy through offering my experiences. I’m a member of a sangha that follows the example of Shakyamuni Buddha, the teachings of Dharma, and living in the loving kindness of community. As Zen House Holders, we share the Dharma while meeting our responsibilities as Human-Beings in all the roles we take on, being in the world but not of it…

The Silent Thunder Order is founded on sharing the Dharma and offers lay transmission occurring by way of apprenticeship and right effort within the Great Mystery, through the teachings of Zengaku Soyu Matsuoka-roshi and Zenkai Taiun Michael Elliston Roshi.

Hojo Elliston Roshi offers HouseHolder podcasts at:

How do you see your EveryDay Zen unfolding in your twenty-four hours?

Join us this Tuesday April 4, 2023 as we explore Zenlife, Householder Style 108 Bows,


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