Zendo Etiquette

In order to achieve a deeply quiet and respectful atmosphere in the zendo (meditation hall), the following guidelines are provided:

  1. We start punctually at 9:30 AM on Sunday. A five-minute bell is struck at 9:25 AM. If you need special seating arrangements – chairs, pillows, benches, etc. – please have them in place before the five-minute bell.
  2. Please do not bring extraneous personal items into the zendo, such as purses, satchels, keys, telephones, wallets and water bottles (eyeglasses are OK). The floor should be clear.
  3. The playing of the han (the wooden gong) at 9:30 is the summons to enter the zendo. Please begin getting settled by the time it is done playing. Once the timer strikes the third bell starting a round of zazen (meditation), the goal is no moving in the zendo until zazen is over. If you must change your posture, please do so quietly and mindfully, so as not to disturb others. The zendo should be a place of silence and stillness.
  4. If you arrive after the group has begun zazen, please go to the back room and do zazen there until you hear the kinhin bell and join us then.
  5. In an emergency, it is OK to exit the zendo during a sitting period. But take care of such matters as getting water, securing more cushions or using the restrooms only during kinhin (walking meditation). If you leave the zendo during kinhin, please try to return to your same spot in the kinhin line and return to the zendo before the next round of zazen begins. Please do not re-enter the zendo if the next round of zazen has begun. Do zazen in the back room.
  6. Keep dress comfortable but modest: no exposed shoulders or revealing shorts, shirts, blouses or skirts. Please do not wear bright colors or garments bearing large images or large printed words. These can be a distraction to others. Darker, subdued colors are preferable. Please do not wear white or colorful socks.
  7. Avoid wearing perfume, aftershave or other fragrances. Remove noisy jewelry and disarm watch-timers before entering the zendo.

Punctuality, commitment, self-discipline and respect for others are part of our Zen practice. If you have questions regarding these matters, which are long-standing aspects of our tradition, feel free to ask about the philosophy behind them. They are offered in the spirit of education and cooperation and for the fostering of the deep stillness central to serious practice, for the benefit of all and are not intended to be arbitrary or punitive. While we understand that meeting the guidelines may be difficult for some beginners, we encourage all to work toward meeting them in the same spirit they are offered.

If you have never attended a Zen service before, it is advisable to arrive on Sunday by 9:00 AM for orientation or to attend Beginning Meditation on Wednesday nights, 7:00- 8:00 PM.