Ordinary Mind Zen

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The Ordinary Mind School of Zen Buddhism is a lay community devoted to a path that is down-to-earth, centered in the heart of our daily life. We develop our enlightened nature by learning how to bring mindful clarity, intelligence, and love to our homes, our workplaces, our intimate relationships and our community.

In Ordinary Mind Zen, we don't need to be a home-leaver (monk) to practice. All sangha members are commoners - we hold the Dharma in common with each other. As lay people our practice is to return, again and again, to our original true home without clinging
to anything or pushing anything away.

We are committed to developing a non-hierarchical sangha. We recognize the importance of teachers, but any member willing to undergo the necessary training is eligible to fulfill all practice positions. We offer the Buddhist precepts to anyone who is willing to commit to a year-long study and practice program.
When we meditate in the shikantaza practice of Soto Zen, we do not try to stop thoughts or feelings or perceptions; we do not try to control them but we also do not let them control us. We just make room for everything. Bringing our whole body and mind to each moment is not a matter of learning concentration: it is the gateway to great ease and joy.

When you let go of self-centered views and stop worrying about your rights and your wrongs, your set views of good and bad, everything and everyone becomes a teacher re-minding you of your true self. Then you can respond to all with a clear heart and a gentle smile.

A note about our forms of practice

The Awakened Way is universal but the medium and methods vary. We need a form to provide a container for practice. Here at Ordinary Mind, we rely on the traditions of Zen Buddhism as brought to this country by Shunryu Suzuki and developed by Charlotte Joko Beck, also drawing on Mindfulness and Taoism.

We are open to teachings from other wisdom traditions and welcome beginners and experienced practitioners and people of all backgrounds. Everyone is welcome.
Zhang Zuo was a lay disciple of Zen teacher Shishuang. He wrote a poem on his realization:
Radiant light serenely illuminates
     - worlds innumerable as the sands of the Ganges.
All sentient beings, ordinary and sages
    - equally my family.
A single moment:
    - undivided, beyond birth and death.
A subtle movement of the six senses
    - sheltering clouds.
Attempting to cut myself free of defiling passions
    - this just adds to my heap of spiritual illness.
Pursuing Truth
    - also wrong.
Submitting myself to worldly conditions
    - no hindrances here.
Nirvana and birth-and-death
    - are simply flowers in unbounded space.