“It is in ordinary practice, lived with the totality of oneself, where Dharma and the real soul of masters are truly fulfilled. The key point is the way of doing, the secret of Zen. If you are satisfied with a rational understanding, your experience in the Awakening Path will be superficial and little effective. Nevertheless, if you understand through a regular and faithful practice of little every day actions, you will be able to deeply understand through all your body, through the whole nature, and you will be able to progress in a natural way”.
Taisen Deshimaru Roshi
In Serene Light we are trying to carry out a good way of living. A way of living, of doing, of being, that allows us to experiment the Happiness, Peace and Harmony that every one of us wishes from the very bottom of our heart.
Luckily, we have the example and education our ancestor in the Path, Buddhas, masters and Zen Tradition patriarchs have passed on to us.
We also have the example and experience of many other wise men and women who have lived here before us or who are still living now.
Serene Light is a holy place, a temple. This means that we try to live here being aware that every single instant is holy. Every thought, every word, every action is holy. Holy means: fully enlightened by self-awareness.
Our Being is holy. All our life and every action become holy when we realise about them, moment by moment.
Buddhas and Zen patriarchs have taught us, and our own experience says so, that we all are aware of the holy nature of our existence, in one way or another, even though we sometimes we forget this awareness when we are under the effect of dark mind states.
Serene Light Rules are our way of living, trying to live according to our truly original nature. These Rules are the skin, flesh, blood, bones and the spinal cord of the old Buddhas and Bodisatvas. They have been updated to this precise time and place.
See these Rules with the light of your heart. Do not lose your time rebelling against them. These Rules do not intend to limit your freedom, they try to show you the way to truly Freedom, in which you will be able to fly with no obstacles, further than the fictitious image you have about yourself, the world and the others. To follow these Rules you need humility, confidence and devotion. Do not worry. You have nothing to lose just a lot to gain.
The first Rule in Serene Light is To Be Happy, or at least to recognise that what you are looking for is Happiness. Happiness for you and the ones around you. You are not here to continue feeding your worry, your misfortune, but to discover the way of planting the appropriate seeds which will give you Happiness, Peace, Harmony and an Enlightening Awareness.
All the following comes from this starting point.
In order to live and practice at Serene Light you need a honest aspiration and a strong determination. Aspiration to reach the Awakening for the Good of all living beings. Awakening is “to realise of what you and the others really are, that is to say, Buddhas, Light beings whose basic motivation is natural Kindness”.
Strong determination means not to allow that any other way of self perception or perception of others nests in your mind. Searching personal benefit (egotist recognition, personal enrichment, power…) is totally discarded in this space.
If you feel this matches what you have in your heart, you can take one step forward and come in. If not, we have to admit this place is not appropriate for you yet.
The first Step: taking refuge in the Three Treasures
If you are humble enough to perceive your current situation, you will be able to recognise that your wish to come to Serene Light is, somehow, a request for help. You are looking for something you feel and need. This something can adopt many shapes, but what you are basically trying to find is reconciliation with yourself, inner peace and soul relief. You are looking for yourself trying to discover who you are.
Ancient Buddhas and Bodhisattvas tell you that you are Buddha, this is, Light and Goodness. Trust this, even though you may not feel it entirely. Meanwhile you are here take refuge in the Buddha you are. Trust your inner inborn Light and your original Goodness. Do not identify yourself with any thought of your mind and your uncertainty will become crystal clear as a diamond certainty.
This means to take refuge in the Buddha´s Trasure. Accept humbly this refuge that life is offering you and escape, in this way, of your own illusory perception.
On the other hand, you are clearly realizing that you have arrived to a Zen Buddhist Temple. The practice of Buddha´s Path is the spinal cord in this holy place. This Path is here for you, for your confidence to become iron faith, and for your faith to crystallize in real experience.
Meanwhile you are here, take refuge in the Dharma, the Path you are stepping on. This is, follow the Path as it is being transmitted to you. This Path is just and now here, under your feet. Follow the footprints our ancestors have left. Do what they did and you will feel what they felt.
And once here, you have to recognise that you are not alone. Only no one is nobody. Our life is interdependency. You live thank to other living beings, in the same way other living beings live thank to you. We are together. Your being cannot be separated from the being of the others. Here, we are one body altogether. Let yourself be in the others and let the others be in yourself. Melt in this body that lives, breathes, practices and rests together.
Take refuge in the Sangha, in this community of hearts, and rest, even for only some days, from your feeling of loneliness. This is the way for us to open our hearts and welcome you to Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
The Three Pure Rules
From the moment you walk through the door, no matter if you have received the Sixteen Boddhisattva Rules or not, you must always remember these Three Pure Rules in your heart:
1. Avoid evil.
2. Do Good.
3. Help all living beings.
Your rational mind will inmediately wonder what is evil, what is Good, what does it mean to help others. The answer will never come from your rational mind. Address these questions with all your heart to your own heart and there you will find the answers. As an orientation, you may consider that:
1. Avoiding evil means not to consciously damage yourself or others.
2. Doing Good means consciously working for your own and the others Hapiness.
3. Helping all living beings means always acting following your heart natural Goodness.
This is the way of doing in the in this Serene Light space.
The Ten Main Rules
During your stay here we ask you to strongly agree to follow this Ten Rules:
1. Refrain from killing with the body, word or thought.
2. Refrain from taking what has not been given to you.
3. Refrain from having sexual relations that are disturbing for you or other members of the community.
4. Refrain from lying.
5. Refrain from alter your conscience with alcohol or drugs.
6. Refrain from judging yourself or others.
7. Refrain from praising yourself or denigrate others.
8. Refrain from having any feeling of possession.
9. Refrain from getting worked up with the fire of anger.
10. Refrain from damaging the Three Treasures: Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.
This is Serene Light: bodhimanda, an enlightenment place.
If you feel this is your place, be welcome.
Open your eyes, ears and heart.
Traditionally, in the Zen Temples there are three especially holy places where silence (san mokudo) is compulsory:
– Sodo, or dôjô, the room where zazen meditation is practised, where food is eaten, and where we traditionally sleep.
– The kitchen, where food for the Three Treasures is prepared.
– The toilets (bathrooms and wc´s) where we wash ourselves and we purify our body and soul.
Both inside and outside those places silence and concentration are compulsory.
The same careful and silent behaviour must be observed in the rest of the Temple.
When body and soul are perfectly unified, every place –from the top of Heaven to the deepest part of the Earth- becomes a truly and perfect bodhimanda.
In Serene Light we have a meditation and ceremony room, dorms, dinning room, camping area, toilets, showers, wc´s, kitchen, tools room, power and well room, some houses and the Master´s house. All these places are bodhimanda, holy places where the conscience light must bright.
Dissolution in the Serene Light.
The practice of zazen meditation is the cornerstone of our life here. There are many kinds of meditations. We practice zazen. To live in Serene Light you need to exactly know the way of practising zazen meditation. Loving zazen and aspiring to devote heart and soul to the bright silence of zazen are essential requirements to be part of this community.
The name of this temple is another way of calling zazen. Ancient people used to call zazen also “silent enlightenment” (mokushô).
Wakô (Serene Ligt) can also be translated as ´Ligth Peace´. This Light Peace develops from the deepest of our zazen meditation, the demonstration of the Clear Light of our real Being.
Zazen is, by excellence, the expression of the Light of our soul and the Serenity of our heart. Thanks to zazen all the darks and disturbances can be dissolved, so the original Peace of our nature reigns in our heart and it radiates to all living beings.
Attendance to zazen periods is compulsory for all resident members of the community and for temporary visitors. If at any moment you do not feel well enough to attend to the dojo, please report it to the general manager and ask him/her to authorise you not to attend to the zazen.
To be time, to be beyond time.
Our ancestors in the Awakening Path have transmitted us that our real original nature is innate, eternal, beyond time. They have also taught us that this original nature is shown by its power in the world of phenomenon, in the creation of time and space. Our true being participates in not only in the time but also in the eternity.
Daily life in Serene Light goes by flowing beyond time. We want to experience eternity. In order to do that there is nothing better than penetrating deeply in the conscience of time until finding its true nature.
Time means rhythm, pace. Life in Serene Light is rhythmic with specific sounds. These sounds help us to live paying attention to the conscience of time, and at the same time, they drive us to jump to the timeless.
Shinrei, it is the little bell that in the morning wakes us up from the night sleep.
Moppan, it is the wood that calls us to go to the meditation room.
Umban, it is the metal that announces the moment to eat.
Inkin, it is the little bell that announces that the master is coming and moving.
Keizu, it is the big ceremony bell.
Mokugyo, it is the drum played to the rhythm of sutras.
Taiko, it is the big drum that announces the time or moment of the beginning and end of the work.
Kaishaku, it is the clapperboard that keeps the rhythm during the recitation in the meals.
Kaichin, it is the clapperboard that announces the end of the day and the extinction of lights and voices.
We do not have to see these instruments only as material objects. Actually, they are the true body and soul of the Buddhas and patriarchs, and their sounds must be learned as the real lesson beyond words.
Flowing in the calm of eternity: timetables.
Eternity is “now and here”. “Now and here” after “now and here”. Every “now and here” is different. Every moment is unique. Losing the present moment is losing the time, losing the eternity.
The timetables of an average day in Serene Light follow this basic rhythm:
06:30 Wake up
08:00 Morning ceremony
10:00 Samu (hand work)
13:30 Personal hygiene
15:00 Break, private time
This timetable changes depending on the seasons and needs of the Temple. So, for example, during sesshin periods, the time devoted to zazen increases, and time for work decreases. In periods when there is a big amount of work the time to do it increases.
The timetable indicates the activity done in that moment. The principle is simple: when it is time to eat, we eat. When it is time to work, we work. When it is time to do zazen, we do zazen. It is especially important to respect the timetable of the Temple. We have to be punctual when doing zazen, in the meals, work, and the moments of break and rest. In the same way, we have to respect the time for personal hygiene and the moment to use the toilets. Practising in this way, each of every action is transformed into the expression of the awakening of Buddha. Actions are done as a way of practising the Path.
We are interdependent
Practising altogether is one of the essential aspects of the way of Zen, in the life of this temple and in the sesshin. Together, we follow the daily practice of sitting in zazen, working, washing, resting…There is not any Dharma out of what we do, nor out of the objects or brothers in the path.
This is why you have to harmonize yourself with the others in every action. Acting in harmony, at the same time, is the action of the body of Buddhas and Patriarchs, it is a pure body action beyond hopes and disappointments. This action will be then Absolute Practice and Spontaneous Awake. The search for enlightenment will then become unnecessary, because every action will become enlightenment.
Group practice expresses faith and respect to the Three Treasures: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Buddha is, obviously, Sakiamuni Buddha, historical founder of Buddhism, but also your own true original nature; Dharma is his lessons, the path you have chosen to follow; Sangha is the harmonious community of people united in their fidelity to Buddha and Dharma. In the Buddha´s Dharma, the Treasure of the Sangha is the most valuable one, because it implies the other two Treasures.
Our life is relation. We are nothing without our relationships. In this Serene Light space we must focus properly our mind and heart in order to develop harmonious relationships with ourselves, with the four elements of the life of phenomenon, with the objects surrounding us, with the other members of the community, with the managers and with the spiritual master of the temple.
Our relationship with the Earth.
The Earth is supporting us. It is the material base of our life. It is our Mother. We can walk on this world thank to the Earth, thank to the ground element. The ground element is in our body, skin, flesh, bones…In Serene Light we try to respect our body and the Earth’s body. Do not throw butts, papers or rubbish over our Mother’s body. Try to respect plants, stones, trees. Every of your steps should be a grateful pray to this being that every moment is feeding your life.
Our relationship with Water.
Water is Source of Life. It is, as the Earth, an element, a living being, very holy. Observe your relationship with Water, both internal and external. Use with moderation, gratitude, and respect the gift Water offers you, either in the shower, basin, when watering, drinking or in the wc´s. Your own body is 80% Water. You are floating in water in a huge river of vital energy. Let yourself flow and let Water washes inside you all you do not need.
Our relationship with the Air.
Air is the Life´s Breath. This Breath is all over, in and outside of you. Inspire taking all the Air you need. Exhale and let all you do not want to go away. Breathing cleans the emotional, mental and spiritual body in the same way water cleans the material body. Enjoy your breathing. Do not lose sight of your breathing rhythm.
Our relationship with the Fire.
The Fire is the Life´s Heat. Your own heart is the altar where Life has lightened the holy flame of Love. Life is Love. Love is the very substance of Life. Be responsible of keeping your Heart Fire well lighten and kept. Neither too lifeless nor too flaming. Rage, anger, jealousy, envy, resentment, aggressiveness can scorch you and devastate all your relations when their fire lights and spreads without any control.
Sadness, depression, melancholy, lack of self-esteem, are indicating that your internal fire is dying. Do not condemn yourself to that cold hell! Take care of you internal fire and keep yourself vigilant of the external fire. We are in the middle of the forest, in a very dry climate during the summer. If you smoke, use only the smoking areas. Do not smoke on the paths or in the forest. Be careful with lightened candles and every kind of fire that can put animal and vegetal life surrounding us in danger.
I am you, you are me.
You, and me, and all of us, are what we are because we are together. Our relationship is important. Do not do, do not say, do not think anything that may do harm to me or to you. Your pain is my pain. Your happiness is my happiness. Offer your happiness, your joy, your pity, your support to the rest of the people and you will get back all that a thousand times. What you give will be what you receive. What you put will be what you take. You have come here pursuing your own happiness, pay attention not to plant your misfortune’s seeds.
Relationship with the managers.
The oldest practitioners who carry out responsibilities in the temple are offering their lives and vital energy for this place to be the Buddha´s Pure Ground that we all want. They should be respected. As far as you can you should help them to develop their duties effectively. Rebelliousness is discarded here, as it happens with the abuse of power and confidence.
We all follow a path of service. We are here to serve one each other, each of us in the dharmatic position corresponding to his/her karmic position. We are all valuable and we all have to respect the responsibility and mission that have been given to us.
Go to these old practitioners to dissolve your queries, to ask for instructions, to look for help and accept the instructions they give you about how to live and properly practice here.
The relationship with the spiritual master.
The spiritual master is the Buddha-Dharma´s Fourth Treasure. Without an spiritual master neither the Buddha, nor the Dharma, nor the Sangha, would be possible. Therefore, he is a Treasure that must be respected and valued.
In the Buddha-Dharma each walker is responsible for his/her own spiritual progress. You cannot delegate this responsibility to the master. The master is a guide, a friend of goodness. Only you can walk the way in front of you.
Do not over consider the spiritual master’s function. Do not under consider it either. Discover his true value and importance and use correctly this Treasure Buddha is giving you.
The spiritual master is the living heart of this community and as so must be protected from mental projections born in your mind according to your personal background.
Open your eyes and look well: present is present. This is this. Zen lesson is transmitted from heart to heart, from master to disciple, from being to being. Try to develop a receptive heart, in a way that your rational mind does not prevent this transmission without words.
If you need to speak to the master, say it and ask for a private interview to his assistant. If you knock at his door he will receive you.
Every day is a good day
The following is a free and adapted to Serene Light translation of “The Rule of a Day” (Juni hôgo) from the Zen master Daichi (XIV century). Every one entering into Serene Light must abandon the outside world and come into the world of Buddhas. He/she must live exactly following the inspiration of Buddhas and masters from ancient times. Nobody should think in his/herself, in his/her own person. Now, I am going to describe who did this Buddhas and masters from the past live, and the Rules they followed without thinking in honour, money or the superfluous material joys of life.
In the morning we have to wake up fast to the first sound of the awakening bell. Do not get attached to the bed. It is a lack of respect to your mates. Recitate the morning prays. Make the bed and get dressed in absolute silence.
Go to the toilet to wash up your face, teeth, hands, eyes and ears. Wait for your turn patiently if necessary. According to Buddha’s lessons, you must wash up your face, eyes, nose, ears and mouth in a way that all your sensorial consciences are totally purified. Pay attention to your expressions and do not waste water. Try to be gentle and do not splash your mates nor make strong noises.
Leave the washbowl and the place where you have washed yourself up clean in an act of unselfish love.
Washing up your face before daybreak is an excellent practice in the Buddhist path.
This is the first action in the day done by a Buddha.
Dawn zazen ( kyoten zazen )
Go quietly and fast to the meditation room for the dawn zazen. Do not wear the Kesa nor the Rakasu. Enter in the dojo holding them in front of you. Bow when entering and each time you pass in front of a Buddha or any old practitioner. You must enter in the dojo with the second hit of the wood and immediately sit down in zazen. All practitioners must be still when the master enters. Nobody can enter after him.
During zazen it is totally forbidden to close your eyes. If you close them you can fall asleep. Try to keep them constantly open, in this way the morning breeze can wake you up easily. You must always keep in mind that time flies like an arrow and you are far away from understanding the Path.
Real Buddha´s zazen is only zazen (shikantaza). This implies to sit down properly. ¿How? Sit down with you legs crossed, with the spine right. Do not try to focus your mind on anything, not even on Buddhism or enlightenment. If you grow this attitude, your soul will match the true Buddha´s soul. You do not need to think neither about life nor about death, neither about karma nor about samsara. During zazen you have the opportunity to get your karma to be quiet and to be exactly like Buddha. At the end of zazen recitate the verse of Kesa. Then put it on and get ready for the morning ceremony.
The morning ceremony ( choka fugin )
After you occupy the right place for the ceremony, greet Buddha in gasshô and greet the centre of the room, this is, your mates in front of you, in sasshu. Be all time respectful and focused. Tidy your clothes and, when the moment arrives, sit down in seiza position, in a properly and elegant way.
During the sutra recitation, the book of sutras is hold vertically in front of your eyes. Do not think in anything else other than the recitation of sutras. This is an excellent opportunity to dissolve your own karma and to rise towards the Buddha state.
Harmonize your voice with the others´. Recitation rhythm is set by the responsible of the mokugyo and tone is set by the ino, responsible for the intonation. In both cases it is necessary to follow his guidelines.
After the ceremony, you can leave the room for a short break. In this moment you have to be careful not to be distracted chatting or with futile talks. Use this time to do all the little details that cannot wait for later.
Breakfast ( cho shuku gyô hatsu )
The kitchen´s metal calls for the first meal of the day.
Forget about anything else when you are eating. Do not think about zazen, sutras, the past or the future. Only concentrate in the act of eating. Unify your body and soul during this act. Now you can reach the Awakening and access to the Buddhas and masters´ spiritual stage, because the act of eating is itself the Awakening.
Eat the food with conscience and gratitude. Many beings have died for you to continue living. Offer your own life too and the results of your practice for all beings to participate in the Awakening with you.
Body work (samu)
The sound of drum calls you to body work after breakfast. Get changed fast and go to the duty that has been assigned to you.
During work you have the opportunity to practice the soul of Buddha: the body moves with freedom in all directions and covers all time, past, present and future.
Nobody can rest during the others work, except for those who are ill. The opposite would be a lack of respect.
Pay attention to your relationship with the physical space and the objects in it. Develop a solid attention and see in the tools you may use (shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows, pans, computers, etc.) the expression of Buddha’s mind covering all. Be tidy and pay attention to your way of working. Pay attention to your breathing and the position of your body. Do not lose your time in futile chats. Do not use time to seduce others, show your knowledge or in pointless talks. This very moment is the only one you have, the only moment in which you are.
Experiment the pleasure of devoting yourself to do something right. You are working for your own happiness, do not forget it. Do not forget to generate happiness when working and, at the same time, look for efficiency, this is: maximum outcomes with minimum waste of time and energy. Only you can do what you are doing. Nobody can do it for you.
Personal hygiene ( senmen )
After body work, once the drum has indicated the end of the time devoted to work, you can go to the hygiene area to wash all your body. Be careful with the silence. Purifying your body is a holy and essential task. The aim is not only to change dirt from one place to another, but to transform any impurity into a direct and vivid experience of Original Purity of the Being. It is a purifying and transmutation ritual. Silence is essential. Respect others´ silence. Hear the water flowing towards your body, around your body, until the Mother Earth’s body. With this dirty water send all your blessings to this earth that is always willing to take what you send her. Observe her example.
Wait patiently for your turn when showers are occupied; in silence, considering life and all its activity as a dream, as a burning twilight that is slowly dying.
Be careful with the silence and the gentleness of your behaviour. Do not splash others by accident. Do not waste water. Do not mix sounds with noises. Pay attention to the sound of water that flows from the infinite towards you and from you towards the infinite.
Midday zazen (soshin zazen), or teaching.
After hygiene, wear the habits again and come back to the meditation room either to sit down again in zazen or to receive the teachings or instructions. You have to be in your zazen place before the third round of wood sounds finishes.
During this period do not think in Buddha, your good or bad karma conditions, or anything else other than zazen. Abandon your body and soul. Give it to the Power that has given it to you temporarily. Do not discriminate between right and wrong. Do not judge anything. Zazen practiced in this way is Illumination. And you are Buddha, further than any idea you may have about what Buddha is or what is not, or what you are or you are not. This is the highest practice.
If you are receiving the teaching, pay absolute attention. Be thankful for the treasure you are receiving and do not make the master or the instructor to repeat his/her instructions.
Be as an empty bowl, able to receive it all, as a limitless container able to cover the endless teaching of our ancestors.
Midday meal ( gozai )
Again, the Umbam will indicate the moment of midday meal. Leave whatever you are doing and go to the dining room, prompt and quiet. The soul attitude during lunch is the same kept during breakfast.
Do not discriminate food. Do not see them as appetizing or disgusting. Ask for the exact amount you need and eat what you are given, without leaving a single piece of food in the bowls. Use Buddha’s bowls with respect and attention. You are using your own life, your ancestors´ and your descendents´
The rest (yasumi)
After lunch and until mid-afternoon zazen you may rest a bit, or have time to study, walk or attend your personal issues.
Keep silence during this time. If you are resting do not think in anything else other than to rest. Concentrate in rest and study, without living your mind to digress. Do not waste your energy. To rest is also to practice Dharma. You are not resting from Dharma. Actually, whatever you do, you are never away from Dharma. You are never exempt from keeping the right attitude towards your life.
During the rest, same as at any other moment, generate kind thoughts towards your Path mates, towards all living beings, and towards you. Be your heart always in peace. Do not allow hostility or rejection thoughts in your mind. Send love and salvation thoughts to those who are ill, weak, in jail, old, dying. Consider all beings as your own sons and daughters.
Sakiamuni Buddha said that when all bodhisattvas practice together they must see and consider each other as they were seeing and observing the Buddha. We have to care about language and behaviour as a way to identify ourselves as Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and act accordingly.
If you have to speak, do it softly. Your words have to be kind, enlightening, and compassionate. Do not use language as a weapon to attack. Always, and in all circumstances, bear in mind your own death. You do not know neither when nor how it is going to happen. It may happen right now, while sleeping, while working. Observe your life from the point of view of your own extinction.
Always, and in any circumstance, act as an honourable disciple of Buddha, this is, with kind and attention. During the rest, and in any other moment, avoid perturbing others. Keep in mind that there is a total and complete reciprocity between you and the others. Avoid, for instance, having a shower while the others are sleeping, or perturbing their rest speaking loudly in their bedroom or nearby, or making noises when closing doors…
If you find in the tracks or corridors any monk or old practitioner wearing the Kesa, join your palms and greet with respect. Avoid walking by the centre of paths or corridors. Walk always on your right to avoid running into someone.
Do not call others aloud, neither shouting nor running. Our acts set the rhythm and quality of time. Do not rush. Always keep calm and natural self-control.
Leave the common world and deep dive into the experience you are having here.
If you can’t attend zazen, or work, or any other daily activity, if you feel sick, tell the general manager. He will take care you receive the care you need.
Consulting the Temple responsibles each time it is necessary is a valuable way to express your respect to both the community practice and the harmony of all its members.
Afternoon zazen ( hoji zazen )
After resting we enter again into the meditation room for the afternoon zazen. The attitude must be the same as described before.
Hand work (samu)
After the afternoon zazen, and depending on the temple requirements, there is a period of work. Do not think now neither in zazen nor in resting. Zazen is not different from body work; body work is not different from zazen. Actually, the mirror of conscience keeps the same during zazen and during work. You cannot neither enter nor leave into the mirror of conscience. It does not change from one activity to other. Body moves but mind keeps still, always identical to itself.
Put the tools, buckets and brooms carefully in order after body work. Do not leave them around. Tidy and leave in order the place where you have been working. Each of these actions is a demonstration of the Path.
Lessons about Dharma ( teisho )
After afternoon zazen or after work, the Master of the Temple or someone in his place may give a conference about Dharma. Go quietly and pay attention to the teaching given.
You have to consider that it is very difficult to be born as a human, it is very difficult to have the opportunity to find the Buddha’s Dharma, it is very difficult to find a spiritual Master. You have all these opportunities. Do not waste them.
This moment can also be used to practice or learn about some aspects of the Buddha-Dharma. Be vigilant, receptive and in good disposition.
Dinner ( yaku seki kittô )
At nightfall, before entering again into the meditation room, we usually have some light food. Yaku seki kittô means in Japanese “medicinal stone”. We consider dinner as an appropriate medicine to calm stress, mind eagerness, and to keep the body healthy. Have your food with gratitude and conscience.
Last zazen of the day ( y aza zazen)
After dinner, and before a reasonable period of time, we go back to the meditation room to sit for the last zazen of the day.
A thousand actions have been done. There is nothing else to do. You can sit and rest in peace in the silent of the night. Pay attention to your mind´s thoughts and let them get quiet as waves that die on the beach of your stillness. Mix in the Still Clear Light that remains further than your thoughts.
After finishing zazen, the Ino says:
“Those who practice Dharma, listen to me:
Life and Death are the essential issues.
Time goes by fast as an arrow.
To you, Path seekers,
I humbly tell you: be aware of the present moment”.
Evening rest (kaichin)
In this way, being aware of the grandeur and fleetingness of the present moment, comes the moment to switch off the lights and the moment for the evening rest. Keep the conscience of the impermanence in your heart. Your life will also die, same as happens with the current day. In this moment, when the extinction clapperboards sound, all the doors and lights are switched off. Go to your room quietly, keep away from trivial chats, and maintain a harmonious, fraternal and sympathetic spirit.
While you sleep, keep Buddha’s body position: stretch your body over your right side, put your left hand over your left thigh, your right hand under the right cheek, your finger stick together. The legs are together, the left foot a little bit behind.
Now, do not think about Buddhism, neither about zazen nor about the thousand issues you might have in your mind. Think kindly on your Path mates, the Temple managers, the Master, your parents, your beloved ones, all the living beings. Ask all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to protect you during your evening rest and close your eyes in peace, without being afraid of death.
An ancient master said:
“After practising the Dharma for a day,
You can die in peace at night”.
Every instant lived with no attention is useless. We must pay attention to every instant. When you eat you must pay attention to the fact of eating. When you recite sutras you must pay attention to the fact of reciting sutras. When you sleep, you must pay attention to the fact of sleeping.
Sakiamuni Buddha taught:
“Those paying attention to the present moment will never die. Those who never pay attention to the present moment are already like dead.”
And waking up again
When the moment of waking up arrives, it starts a new day of practice in the Emancipation Path, same as the followed by Buddhas and masters in the past.
A day lived in this way is an example to follow for 10, 20, 30 years, for all your life.
It is a very simple life model, in which our body and soul get similar to Buddhas´and enlighted beings´ ones.
Living like this we can dissolve our hellish karma. We can reward our parents for their efforts. We can change the world’s pain into the Nirvana Everlasting Peace.
Rules of Serene Light Temple
1. Practice and life in this holy place is only allowed to those who have a honest aspiration to live in a full light of Conscience, and to those who have a strong determination to do it, no matter the difficulties they can find.
2. Nobody can enter here trying to obtain personal benefit, honour, fame, power, nor an egotistic recognition.
3. Nobody can enter here if his/her aspiration is other than reaching the Complete Awakening of all living beings.
4. If you feel that entering here has been an error, you must leave immediately. Comfort and personal benefit lose their importance if you look for the Path.
5. Here we look for a Path of Harmony with the others. We want to mix like milk and honey, and altogether we will try to open our eyes to the Supreme Wisdom.
6. If you practise properly following the learning transmitted, your initial position of “beginner” will change with the time into a “Master”, “Buddha” or “Bodhisattva”.
7. Here you can find soul friends difficult to find in the ordinary World. Here you can do different things to those you normally do.
8. Try to cultivate always a purpose linked to an action. Be as a travelling cloud (light) and like the running water (fluid).
9. Pay attention to your words, your actions and your thoughts.
10. Be your aim the enlightenment of all beings for their Good.
11. Do not leave the Temple without purpose, and do not do it with out the authorization of the general manager.
12. Cultivate your loneliness with discretion.
13. Here and now is the best moment to save your mind from fire, so do not worry about the futile things in the world. Our life is temporary and it is impossible to know when it will finish. Do not lose time with pointless readings; follow the Buddha’s Truth by doing a precise practice.
14. Inform the general manager about your problems and difficulties.
15. Do not criticize others. Hide their errors but do not imitate them. Cultivate your own integrity. Be severe with yourself and indulgent with the others.
16. Do not take communal objects or goods to your room, no matter how irrelevant they are. Inform the general manger about your actions and initiatives.
17. Avoid speaking loud neither inside nor outside the meditation room, and avoid chatting in groups.
18. In the meditation room you cannot wear rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, watches, or other ornaments. Do not enter or leave with the arms along the body.
19. Only recitate sutras when it is the appropriate moment.
20. Do not make weird noises with the mouth or nose. Keep always in mind that the time is very brief.
21. Every moment use proper and simple clothes.
22. Do not consume alcohol, drugs or musical devices. There are certain places where smoking is permitted during breaks or free time.
23. Do not argue. Arguing keep you and the others from practising the Path. If you persist in arguing you will have to leave.
24. Those who do not follow the Rules of the Temple will be invited to leave.
25. Do not disturb other’s practice inviting people from outside to came, other than in the designated moments.
26. Practice zazen in the meditation room and listen carefully the teaching given by the Master or authorised people.
27. Be careful of the rhythm, times and right places. Pay attention to the proper way of doing every moment.
28. Be extremely respectful to the meditation cushion (zafu) and Buddha’s bowls (oryoki). Pay attention not to drop them.
29. The kitchen is one of the three holy places in the Temple. It is totally forbidden to enter without the kitchen manager (tenzo) or the general manager authorization. If you are working in the kitchen, be quiet. Do not chat in a pointless or gross way. Concentrate only in the food cooking process.
30. Toilets, showers and WCs are also holy places. Silence must be preserved here as well. Be careful and pay attention. Do not forget your personal objects and do not leave them anywhere to the sight of everybody. The Gasshô soul must be kept in these places.
31. During all the time you are here you must study and practice peacefully and freely the Buddha’s Path.
32. In the daily life of this temple there is precise way of doing at every moment. If you are new here, ask someone older.
33. Always choose Happiness, Harmony, Peace and the Happiness of your own mind.
Welcome to Serene Light!
This rules have been inspired by the Jundo-shiki, or ´Regulations for the Room of Travelling Clouds´ of Master Eihei Dôgen (13th Century).