Iowa City Zen Center
Iowa City, IA 52245
The heart of Zen Buddhism is the practice of Zazen. Zazen is the activity of merely being present with self, with the distractions of everyday life, our worries and anxieties, reduced to a minimum. It is the core activity of all Buddhas and ancestors, and the essence of an enlightened life.
Sitting Zazen places us exactly where we always are, in the present moment, simply being and clearly ensconced within the whirlwind of an ever changing and interrelated universe.
We sit Zazen not to transcend the world, not to attain enlightenment, not to overcome stress or learn to relax or accomplish any other sort of direct end, and certainly not to become Buddhas. These endeavors already manifest within our hearts and minds. Instead, Zazen is the simple act of being human within and as a part of the Universe as it truly is, free of the foolishness of delusion, ignorance, and ego. It is present moment, caring for Self, here and now.
Ultimately, all life is Zazen. The comings and goings of daily living, the work we do, the families we raise, the struggles and joys that come and go – all this is practice. Approaching such endeavors with singleness of purpose and full concentration, attending to the sentient beings whose welfare we vow to support, and relying on skillful means to constructively engage the world in all its facets is the Buddha-way. So too do we grapple with the activity of mind, the thoughts and beliefs and concepts and emotions that bubble up for examination as we sit, or think, or undertake the tasks of our day.
And in beginning and ending our day with sitting – simply sitting as the Buddha sat – we come first to see and then to know and manifest the Dharma of all life, the truth of being, and the immeasurable nature of the Universe.