Sixteen bodhisattvas stepped into the bath together. They cried out in unison, “This subtle touch reveals the light that is in everything! We have reached the place where the sons and daughters of the Buddha live.”
Whenever we meditate, the whole world meditates with us. When we move, ripples flow outward in all directions and when the wind rustles through the trees, something in us rustles, too. It’s good to have company: we support each other, we irritate each other, and we teach each other. We can’t really ever know which we’re doing at any given time, so the best thing might be to just dive in with an open heart. We don’t get enlightened on our own–even the uneven sidewalks and crunchy autumn leaves play their part–and even if we did awaken in isolation there would be no one with whom to share the luminous life we’d found.
Our small group is a great way to get your feet wet with koans and meditation in a friendly and informal setting. Sitting with us does not require any previous experience with Zen, meditation or koans, and in fact being clueless is probably your best bet anyway.
What’s the skinny? The group meets every Wednesday evening from 6:30 – 7:30pm in the Sophia Room at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Antonio (7150 IH-10 West, San Antonio, TX). There is no cost for attendance, but a donation of $5.00 is suggested to help pay for the room. Donations in any amount are greatly appreciated. If you have cushions or a bench other sitting gear you’d like to use, feel free to bring it; otherwise, we’ve got plenty of chairs that you’re welcome to use. If you would like to arrange to come a little early for some beginning instruction, please let us know. However, this is not necessary and it might be good just to throw yourself in.
What happens during the group? We meditate for about 30 minutes, starting a little after 6:30pm. Then we open the floor for sharing what we noticed. You don’t have to sit super-still like a mountain and have excellent concentration, and there’s really no need to come up with something clever to say–you can just notice what’s true for you and that will be enough. We pick a new koan when it seems like it’s time to, which means we might hang out with any given koan for a few weeks, a month, two months…
Some basic group suggestions:
1. Speak from the heart and trust your own experience
2. There’s no obligation to share
3. Listen with your whole body
4. There is no need to fix yourself or anyone else
5. It’s OK to ask questions of anyone
6. It’s OK if there’s silence
7. Try to be on time, but if you’re late, that’s OK. Just come on in and take a seat.
You can also join our Meet Up group to stay informed about upcoming events.
More about the Koan Small Group model. We are a branch of Pacific Zen Institute’s Koan Small Group program, developed by John Tarrant, Roshi and David Parks-Ramage in northern California. The small group format is an innovation unique to Pacific Zen Institute, the product of years of experimenting with creating a truly western Zen culture. Traditionally, koan work takes place in a somewhat isolated relationship between a student and his or her teacher. However, the whole universe is involved with our lives and so why should our relationship with koans be any different? The spirit behind PZI’s koan small groups is that koans become more accessible through our conversation, listening, and having a good time together. It’s not about possessing secret knowledge or Doing It Right or becoming a better person, although those are all good reasons to start meditating (hey–whatever gets your butt on the cushion, am I right?). We just hang out with koans and talk about what it’s like to be a human, and by doing that something beautiful happens. So if you’re interested in trying us out but you’ve got some worry about it, you can probably just come anyway.
Hope to see you there!
If you have any questions or would like to schedule private instruction, please contact us using the form below.