The Zendo

The zendo, literally “zen hall” or meditation hall, is the building dedicated for the practice of zazen. The zendo is maintained as a space where one can settle deeply and realize the true nature of life.

Our zendo is located at 927 S. Normandie, in the midst of noisy, inner-city Los Angeles. Sitting here, one quickly learns that although a quiet environment is helpful for beginners, quiet is not merely a matter of environment; it is also an internal way of being. As Dogen Zenji stated, “Your own heart is the practice hall.”

Zendo practice is made possible by each of us taking individual responsibility for creating an atmosphere of stillness and silence. Our conduct creates the proper atmosphere for everyone, and, in turn, the atmosphere we create supports our zazen.

In zendo practice, we are alone together. We respect individual practice, recognizing that the purpose of individual transformation is to share it with others. We respect group practice as an expression of our fundamental life connections. So individual practice and together practice are inseparable. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are also practicing together with us.

In the Zen tradition, Manjusri, the Bodhisattva of Great Wisdom, presides over the zendo. A bodhisattva is an awake (bodhi) being (sattva) who works tirelessly to awaken others. Manjusri and other Bodhisattvas are not historical persons, but rather archetypical energies which are awakened and embodied by each and every one of us. The word bodhisattva also refers to a person who vows to attain Buddhahood and help others to attain awakening.

We treat the zendo with the utmost mindfulness and respect. The zendo atmosphere comes directly from our attitude. One’s attitude should always be that of kindness and generosity (sila), concentration and focus (samadhi), and awareness and attention (prajna). Sila, samadhi, and prajna are the three pillars of practice.

We use precise, traditional procedures in the zendo which have been found to support and strengthen zazen practice. The basic forms have been handed down through the tradition and are found in most zendos.

We ask everyone who practices here to undertake the discipline of these forms and to learn these procedures in the spirit of fostering the most supportive environment for zazen. In these pages, procedures and useful information about the Great Dragon Mountain Zendo are set forth.