Frequently Asked Questions 


What is Zen?

Zen is a term applied to the opening of an individual's mind to a direct experience of higher consciousness and/or an understanding of transcendent reality apart from cultural bias, religious dogma and sectarian tradition. Although those who teach and practice Zen may use very traditional methods and styles, they are careful to point out that these methods and styles are merely tools and are not to be mistaken for Zen. As the saying goes, "A finger pointing at the moon is not the moon."


What is the Role of the Zen Teacher?

The role of the teacher is to mentor the student when such mentor-ship is needed or requested by the student. Just as in other disciplines, the Zen teacher is an aid, not a requirement. Teachers are sought by students to help them through struggles and over barriers that could otherwise impede their progress, or to teach them a specific technique or discipline.

Zen teachers should assist students in their practice, encourage students to be diligent, guide their meditation practice in both public and private meetings, offer personal aid in difficult times, and talk about Zen texts to enrich the student's understanding of Buddhism and Zen concepts.  Most importantly, Zen teachers should strive to inspire students by setting a living example through their interactions with students and others and how they conduct their own everyday lives. A good teacher will, through example, demonstrate that Zen practice can make one a wiser and more compassionate human being.


What is the structure of our Teaching?

As previously stated, our School is "teaching" centred and therefore lacks any hierarchical structure. No one is specifically trained to become a teacher and teachers are considered equals among practitioners. Even though a person may be recognised as a teacher and fill that role within the relationship or sangha, they are never considered in any way superior to their students or other practitioners.


What is the Difference between Members and Non-Members?

Anyone who attends practice sessions, receives training or otherwise contributes to the sangha is considered a member of the sangha. Other than being mindful and observing proper etiquette when present, there are no membership requirements for becoming sangha.


Some of us have chosen to formalise our commitment to practice and to community by becoming clerical members of the Order of the Boundless Way, a Zen Buddhist order. Though ordination is not required for participation, we offer it to anyone who wishes to learn and practice Zen with us. Members of the Order are legally recognised as clergy and are sanctioned to provide all of the services normally associated with this vocation.  We have no hierarchy among members and no appointed Dharma Successors.


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