Zen & Buddhism Q&As

What ritual does the GZG use?

People coming to sit with us for the first time may feel there’s quite a lot of ritual. Some of us will wear the okesa or rakusu. We sit in a line facing the wall. In the middle of the room there is a buddha,some flowers and a burning stick of incense. We ring bells and hit clappers. There is quite a bit of bowing.

Why do we do this, and why is it important?

When you engage seriously with a spiritual tradition, you are always in a position of creative tension towards it. You are choosing to engage in that tradition-to sustain it and be sustained by it -, but you are also, in a sense, in dialogue with it. And this is essential, because our aim is not replication, but authenticity. You are the vehicle for buddhism to be carried from the past to the generations yet unborn. Buddhism is not learning to play a part, but unlearning all parts: being true and being real.

But also, a tradition is not something you can just make up, putting the bits together that you like, discarding the bits you don’t. That is egotistical and shallow, and is a kind of New Age spiritual materialism. If we don’t engage with something because it isn’t pleasing to us, we can never get started.

More detailed teachings on Ritual