Introductory Meditation Courses and Zen Retreats


Lotus Meditation Center offers meditation courses, in order to make 
the practice of Zen meditation available to the general public.
 
Why learn meditation? 

Meditation is the heart of Zen and the direct path to freedom and 
enlightenment. The prevailing spirit of Zen teachings and meditation 
practice is that one is always capable of helping oneself regardless 
of one's situation. It is Zen teaching 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 Zen 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.

Who can take the courses? 

Anyone who wishes to learn meditation can participate in these 
sessions and benefit from them. People who take a meditation course 
fall into two categories:

•       People who are interested in or are sympathetic to Zen and 
•       People who are not interested in Zen, 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: 

1. 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  "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 
thus lead a simple and happy life.


2. You learn how 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.

3. You learn to strive for right livelihood and compassionate living 
and to become accountable for your actions.

Ahimsa or non-violence is the first Zen 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. 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 attending to small 
chores. The viewpoint of Zen is that life lived fully in each moment 
is an 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. Zen life, in short, is no other than a life of full heart and 
enlightenment. 


What is the format? 

The meditation course takes four Monday evenings from 7:00 p.m. to 
8:30 p.m.; or a weekend retreat  from  Friday  7: 00 p.m. to Sunday 
noon. The retreat serves both out-of-towners and those who cannot 
attend the regular Monday evening course, as well as those who wish 
to experience a more intense encounter. Though both courses cover the 
same content, the weekend retreat is more in-depth.


Can I take the introductory meditation course again?

Quite a few people repeat these programs. Some beginners, who find 
sitting challenging for physical or mental reasons take the course 
over again until they feel more confident. Some who have taken the 
course but lapsed from regular meditation take it again to refresh 
their memory and renew their meditation practice. Yet others or long-
time practitioners take the course again, in order to recommit 
themselves and strengthen their practice.

What are the fees and how do I register?

•       There is current;y no charge for the four Monday sessions. 
Free-will donations are appreciated.

•       $150 for the weekend retreat. To register, please use the 
email form on the web site www.lotus-meditation-center.org








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