Meditation is the heart of Buddhism and the direct path to freedom and enlightenment.The prevailing spirit of Buddhist teachings and meditation practice is that one is always capable of helping oneself regardless of one's situation. It is the Buddhist belief that common, ordinary beings are Buddhas, that is, unattained Buddhas. However, we usually lack full trust in ourselves and as a result, all too easily relinquish our trust and willpower to outside agents. Meditation practice challenges this lack of trust and willpower from the very outset. Any sincere and serious practitioner of Buddhist meditation soon realizes that one cannot sit in meditation for long without both accepting one's life and the world, for meditation is a world-affirming and a life-renewing experience. Beginners follow the three guidelines: simplicity, clarity, and spiritual strength.
Introductory Meditation Course & Beginner's Zen Retreat
We offer the Introductory Meditation Courses in order to make the practice of Buddhist meditation available to the general public.
The Regular Introductory Meditation Course takes five Tuesday evenings (Chicago and New York City) and Toronto) or five Thursday evenings (Ann Arbor).
Beginner's Zen Retreat (Overnight) runs from Friday evening at 7 pm through Saturday at noon with an overnight stay at the temple. The Retreat serves both out-of-towners and those who cannot make it to the regular Tuesday evening course, and also those who wish to experience temple life by staying overnight. Both courses cover the same content. For dates please check the calendars (Toronto, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Mexico).
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Advanced Meditation Course
The Advanced Meditation Course is for members or others who wish to deepen their
meditation practice and train in Korean hwadu Seon (Zen).
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can take the courses?
Anyone who wishes to learn meditation can participate in these sessions and benefit from them. People who take the Introductory Meditation Course and Workshop fall into two categories:
- People who are interested in or are sympathetic to Buddhism
- People who are not interested in Buddhism but would like to learn meditation for their own personal benefit
What will you learn?
Meditation is pure awareness and concentration. It is a spiritual discipline and liberation. Through meditation:
- You learn how to be peaceful, content and happy and to develop a spiritual (non-materialistic) attitude to your life.
People living in the consumer society suffer from an excess of materialism and lack of spiritual values. The result is a lot of worry and a lack of peace of mind. Peace of mind is your single most important asset for it is the basis of a happy life. The most simple and wholesome way of attaining peace of mind is to learn to sit still and stop worrying through the cultivation of ocean mind and "let go" practice. At the same time, it is important to embrace spiritual values such as gratitude and reverence. With peace of mind and a spiritual outlook on life, it is easy to appreciate who you are and what you have and lead a simple and happy life.
- You learn to concentrate your mind and take care of this present moment.
Modern society is complex, fragmented and full of distractions. There is a general lack of purpose and moral integrity in people's lives. Many feel helpless and unhappy with their lives. They find their work unsatisfactory and that the overall quality of life has been slipping in spite of a high living standard. In this situation there are two ways you can help yourself. One is awareness: you have to become fully aware of yourself and your own life by paying attention. The other is concentration: you have to realize yourself by concentrating your mind. In other words, at some point you have to stop running after distractions and start taking care of your present life for the sake of the world. The sooner the better. Focused attention and concentrated mind take care of this very moment of your life. This very moment is the most precious thing in your life and contains both your past and future. Apart from this very moment, your life does not exist.
- You learn to strive for right livelihood and compassionate living and to become accountable for your actions.
Ahimsa or non-violence is the first Buddhist precept. First you must start to lead a harmless life of non-injury, not hurting, not wasting and not polluting things. It requires attention and a mindful attitude which are stressed throughout the Course and Workshop. You learn to take good care of things at hand. For instance, you are instructed to do small things carefully such as taking your shoes off and washing your feet. The viewpoint of Zen is that life lived fully in each moment is the end and purpose in itself and not the means for something else. Thus, each task you perform becomes an awakening of your heart and fulfillment of your life. You must become accountable for what you do. Buddhist life, in short, is no other than a life of full heart and enlightenment.
Can I take the introductory meditation course again?
Quite a few people repeat our programs. Some beginners who find sitting difficult for physical or mental reasons take the course over again until they feel comfortable. Some who have taken the course but lapsed from regular meditation take it again to refresh their memory and renew their meditation practice. Some members or long-time practitioners take the course again in order to recommit themselves and strengthen their practice.
"Meditation practice can help bring peace and happiness to the world. No one is too sinful to do meditation, no one is too wrong to meditate. It takes only willingness to begin meditation and a resolve to continue. One should never underestimate what one's sincere commitment to meditation practice can do for the world"
--Ven. Samu Sunim
What are the fees and how do I register?
The cost for the courses and retreats are:
* $160 [$200 at the NYC temple] for the Five Tuesday or Thursday Introductory Meditation Courses
* $160 [$200 at the NYC temple] for the Beginners' Zen Retreat
* $160 [$200 at the NYC temple] for the Advanced Meditation Course
To register please send your non-refundable deposit of $50 along with your name, address, and phone number to the temple. For dates and registration form, please check the calendars (Toronto, Ann Arbor, Chicago, NYC, Mexico).
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