A direct understanding beyond scriptures and traditions,
Not dependent upon words and symbols.
Pointing directly to the mind,
Seeing its nature and awakening.
(Attributed to Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen)
The Chinese word 'Zen' (禅) means 'meditation', and the Sanskrit word 'Buddha' (बुद्ध) comes from a root that means 'to awaken', so Zen Buddhism is the Meditation school of Awakening. Zen practice involves both mental and physical disciplines that help us awaken to the perception and experience of reality as it is in each given moment, free of the judgments and expectations through which we typically view it. This way we can live our lives in accord with reality to reduce and stop the sufferings we cause ourselves and others.
The Mountain has long been a metaphor for spiritual practice. The walk to the summit is symbolic of our search for understanding and meaning. As in Zen, which teaches us that everyone has Buddha-nature, the Mountain is egalitarian – all who set out on the spiritual quest are peers, regardless of background and belief. Many paths lead to the top, and there are many ways to walk those paths. Some will journey alone, while others seek kindred spirits with whom to travel. Some will intently make their way to the summit, while others will spend more time on the journey, perhaps not reaching the summit at all. And some, who would be teachers, will walk back down the path to help others farther along.
Mountain Way Zen
Mountain Way Zen is a universal, egalitarian practice of Zen for Wayfarers from various faiths and walks of life whose spiritual explorations have led them to the practices and teachings of Zen Buddhism. We feel an abiding respect for – and connection to – our fellow beings and the rest of the natural world, so much of our practice involves both serving others and wandering and dwelling in wild places. By serving others, we move from an intellectual understanding that 'we are all connected' to an active realization of this fact. By venturing back into the earth and opening our hearts to the silent wisdom it offers, we re-connect with nature and the very origins of our Zen heritage and become as the hermit sages of old, wandering amongst the wooded hills and white clouds.
Mountain Way Zen is the practice and teaching of Fǎ Xíng Jeff Miles (Thích Tâm Minh), a hermit-monk and teacher in the lineages of the Chinese Zen master Xūyún and the Vietnamese Zen master Thích Thiên-Ân. He does most of his Dharma teaching inside prisons as a volunteer with Washington state's Department of Corrections, and also leads a weekly community meditation group at Art HQx in Hoquiam, Washington. Otherwise, you might find him wandering through the woods or trying to make progress on his ever-growing reading list. He also drinks a lot of tea, frequently attempts poetry, and often thinks he's funny.
He can be reached at email@example.com, and details about the weekly community meditation can be found in the Events section of Art HQx's Facebook page.