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At Zuiryoji, a monk's day begins at 3am with morning sutra recital (gongyo). Lights-out is at nine in the evening, but after this he practises zazen into the night (yaza). At all times, he is supervised strictly according to monastery rules.

Various disciplines together make up the training of a young Zen monk. Among these are samu -manual labour. This consists of such tasks as cleaning and working around the monastery, which in keeping with ancient tradition is carefully maintained by the monks themselves.

There is takuhatsu or religious mendicancy. Apart from during the week-long periods of intensive retreat(sesshin) which occur six times a year, on regular occasions monks make visits on foot to the local area, going from door to door to collect a cupful of rice.

Such alms-giving helps replenish the monastery larder; but it also provides an opportunity for the faithful to acquire merit by the performance of a small act of charity.

Then there is koza. This is the Zen master/abbot's cycle of lectures on the koan collection, The Blue Rock Collection (Hekiganroku), and The Record of Rinzai (Rinsairoku). Koza takes place several times a month, and more frequently, even daily, during sesshin.

There is zazen -the central practice of the Zen sect- seated meditation to experience the mind of emptiness. (See the section, Doing Zazen.)

And finally, there is kansho, the private interview with the abbot when the student is tested on the koan he has been given and where he is required to present his understanding. This may take place morning and evening, or up to four times a day during sesshin.

Through practice, one by one the young monk comes to master all of these in his daily life. There is no limit to his training, however, as the possibility of refinement goes on forever.

Continuing in this fashion over many years, he comes eventually to receive the Dharma which, as water is poured from one container to another, like a precious inheritance is passed from teacher to disciple in unbroken succession down the generations.



Training scenery

 

 

 
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