Many people are surprised to find that we have ceremonies in our monthly calendar, they have the image that Zen is just facing the wall in a very spartan environment not all flowers candles and incense, walking about and singing.
We humans have the need for ceremony as part of our nature, from the large spectacular of an Olympic Games opening, to how we make ourselves a cup of coffee.
The practise of Soto Zen Buddhism uses this trait of ours to help us centre ourselves and pay attention to what we are doing, in large complicated ceremonial as at the New Year or in the mundane, going to the toilet. The “ceremony of every day life” is an invitation to understand what keeps still and centred whether we are doing the dishes or at the funeral of someone we love.
We can’t understand this by reading about it, only by actually doing it. Great Master Dogen, a highly respected Zen teacher, not only wrote the Shobogenzo but also wrote down how to make what he was pointing to be apparent in how we make food, sit in formal meditation, and how to behave in the bathroom, the fundamental acts of our lives.
So, how we are, as we move, offer incense, how we sing, where we put our feet, and how we bow, can all be practise if we engage with it. Ceremonial.