The contemporary Zen teacher Taigen Dan Leighton described Zazen as “enactment ritual”.
It’s a very evocative phrase with many strands.
One is that when we sit Zazen with other people, even if there’s not many of us, a few of us, or five, or ten, even though we’re just sitting in a small, nondescript room,
through our sincere practice together, we are enacting a different world and a world re-envisioned.
Through compassion, a world where everything matters, everything has meaning and everything is part of a living whole. Where this ceaseless egoic activity which dims everyday life is put to one side.
Although ( in Master Sekito’s words) this room is small, it includes the entire world. The walls are fluid because we’re not restricted to what is physically here.
Everything is included.
In time, within our lived experience, the whole world is intimate with us, because when we re-emerge from our practice, the room comes with us.
When we’re practising together, the place of practice is the place of our actual experience. The room itself, the other practitioners themselves, and everything in the room occur within our practice. Not within our self, within our practice.
I’m sitting in this particular part of the room with all my ego, my karma, my psychological noise and so on, but the space of awareness is the whole room, and in that space of awareness and compassion everything else is also there—other beings, space, connection, relationship.
This room is both the metaphor and actuality of a practice which, although the self is there, it’s just something else going on. The self occurs within the practice and within the ‘room’ of awareness, not the other way around.