“Transmission of zazen is the whole truth of the Buddha-Dharma”
Sit with us at the Dojo
You are welcome to join us at the Dojo at any of the following times, provided you’ve previously attended an introductory session.*
|Tuesday||07:00 – 08:00||a single 40 mins sit; plus ceremony|
|Wednesday||18:00 – 19:15||two 25-mins sits, with kin-hin; plus ceremony|
|Friday||18:00 – 19:15||two 25-mins sits, with kin-hin; plus ceremony|
|Sunday||08:30 – 10:30||two 40-mins sits, with kin-hin; plus ceremony|
* Please contact us to arrange an introductory session. These are usually held, by prior arrangement, at 17:30 on Wednesday evenings but other times are possible.
We usually extend our Sunday morning session until lunchtime once a month. On these days, we have a work period (samu) into the morning as well as extra ‘sits’.
What happens at the Dojo
Our main activity is to sit shikantaza – that is to say, we just sit in silence, facing the wall, trying to remain alert and present rather than being distracted by thoughts about the past or future or giving way to sleepiness. This takes energy and concentration, though we try to keep the body itself relaxed.
‘Sits’ are generally either 25 or 40 minutes long, perhaps interspersed with a few minutes of kinhin – slow walking meditation – during which we aim to maintain the same upright alertness, the same zazen mind.
Ceremony is a halfway-house between seated zazen and busy life in the everyday world – in which we have to cope with many distractions. Through chanting and bowing together, we learn to concentrate our minds and awareness while taking action in the world.
We often chant the Heart Sutra and the Four Bodhisattva Vows in Sino-Japanese. This is a common language whether we’re practising alongside British, European or Japanese teachers.
Teaching at Bristol Zen Dojo
We offer teaching in the dojo by senior practitioners – both resident and visitors – during sits (Kusen), as talks (Teisho) and question/response sessions (Mondo). Questions from remote attendees are welcome, through the WhatsApp channel or in advance over email.
We are sorry we are not able to provide guidance to those with a home practice who do not also practice with us (in person or online). The reason is that the essence of Zen teaching is ‘Not Always So’: there is no single abstract answer independent of your personal situation. For us to advise you on your practice, we need to have some relationship with you and develop an intuitive appreciation of who you are.
You can join us for zazen & ceremony while you sit in your own space. We run regular Dojo-Live broadcasts from the Dojo, using internet radio. We also relay transmissions from Lanau Zen Centre on Saturday mornings.
If you sit with us regularly online, please let us know. If you choose, you can join the WhatsApp group of online sitters.
We continue to offer occasional Zen Days at the Dojo, led by visiting teachers or by our own senior monks, nuns and practitioners. Here Zen beginners and practitioners can engage in more intensive sitting, and ask questions to clarify & deepen their practice.
This page will routinely contain a link to any forthcoming sesshin, giving details of registration and payment.
Keeping in Touch
For news about talks, mondos, informal meals, events, half-days, Zen weekends and Sesshin (retreats), please:
- send an email to email@example.com asking to join our mailing list
- follow us on social media using the links at the bottom of the page
Sitting in a time of COVID
The Dojo encourages the wearing of masks for continued protection against Covid-19 infection. We open our doors 10 minutes before sits begin.
It’s no longer necessary to book a place in advance, though we may reinstate booking if widespread Covid infections re-emerge. When numbers exceed a dozen, we use the adjacent gaitan sitting area to help keep people safe.
Learn about Zen Practice
We are currently preparing a short introductory ‘course’ for people new to Zen. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest, and for further information.
From time to time, Dojo members can join in discussion of key texts. Recently we’ve examined several chapters of Dogen’s Shobogenzo.
At present, we’re running a monthly sutra study group using Google Meet. Email the organiser if you’d like to know more about what’s involved.