Practicing at the Center

Meditation

Wind chimes, southwest corner of the temple at Furnace Mountain.
Wind chimes, southwest corner of the temple at Furnace Mountain.
The primary regular activity of the Center is a weekly service based on meditation, with some chanting as well.

Just prior to the service we arrange cushions according to the number of people we think are likely to attend. Newcomers are welcomed and helped to find a comfortable seat.

The service itself consists of two thirty-minute periods of still and silent sitting separated by ten minutes of slow free-walking. The first period commences with the lighting of candles before a small statue of the Buddha; one person then chants a brief invocation in Korean. We then chant the Heart Sutra in English. (For this many members use chant sheets that are placed under a cushion.) The sitting period then begins in earnest, although if one of our teachers is present then there is likely to be a Dharma talk that occupies most of this period.

A bell is rung to signal the end of the sitting period, and the altar candles are extinguished. Most participants then rise for a ten-minute walking period, aiming to carry their meditation into their walking as much as possible.

Two rings of the bell summon everyone back to their cushions, and we enter the second sitting period. The silence deepens and becomes luminous. At the end of this period the bell is rung three times, and the service concludes with the chanting of the Boddhisattva Vows.

It is our custom to linger on our cushions for a few minutes afterwards and engage in a go-around-the-circle, in which each person says his or her name and (optionally) offers something about how things have been going in the past week: with herself, her family or the community she serves. In this way we come, in time, to know one another well and to hold each others concerns.