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Eight Gates of Zen

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The abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery in upstate NY, John Daido Loori, has developed what I feel is the most complete system of Zen training in America. I don't mean to say he is the best Zen teacher or is fully enlightened or any of that. But his system covers all aspects of spiritual practice and life, no matter who your teacher is or what practice your doing.


The Eight Gates are


1. Zazen. The heart of all practice. The foundation of everything.

2. Precepts practice- study of the moral and ethical teachings.

3. Liturgy practice-Chanting, making seen the unseen.

4. Academic study-Study of Buddhist texts, sutras.

5.-Work practice-engaging in Labor that affirms life.

6.-Body practice-exploring the physical body as a vehicle for self realization.

7-Art practice-Creativity and spiritual practice together.

8.Zen study-face to face instruction from an authentic Zen teacher


Whatever you do that is spiritual is entered through one of these Eight Gates. Bascially all Taoist excercises and meditations that involve the body are body practices and no different than zazen. Martial arts are no different than zazen. In work practice, you realize the mind of zazen in the everyday.


Precepts practice is also challenging and begins with the fundamental Buddhist teaching " Affirm Life, Don't kill". Whatever you can do to help life and other people is precepts practice.


The important point for beginner's like myself is to remember it's all practice. Each of the areas of training involve mindfulness and paying attention. Inevitabely, you stray from the path. If you are following the breath in zazen and your mind wanders, you notice what has happened and then you return to the breath. If you are doing your precepts practice and you break a precept you mindfully realize what you have done and return to the precepts.


the most important practice is zazen and it is the foundation. So if you are doing something else don't even bother because your not going to enter the other gates without a strong zazen practice.


For more info read:


The Eight Gates of Zen by John Daido Loori

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I was surprised when I saw ZMM had made it into my Religion in America class at ASU. Several paragraphs devoted to the use of the internet in spreading the dharma.


Maybe in a few years students will be reading about this guy Bill Bodri from NY who is teaching that all religions are just different expressions for the same spiritual stages.

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