My heart in middle age found the Way,
And I came to dwell at the foot of this mountain,
When the spirit moves, I wander alone
Amid beauty that is all for me.
I will walk till the water checks my path,
Then sit and watch the rising clouds –
And some day meet an old wood-cutter
And talk and laugh and never return.
A direct understanding beyond scriptures and traditions,
Not dependent upon words and symbols.
Pointing directly to the mind,
Seeing its nature and awakening.
Zen involves letting go of concepts, abstractions, and delusions in order to ‘Wake up!’ and experience the present moment as it is, rather than through the filters of our ideas, opinions, and expectations of how it should be. Zen practice includes meditation and mindfulness to develop and train the mind, physical exercises and attention to diet for the body’s health, and service to others. We do all of these as our spiritual practice, incorporating them into our daily lives. In so doing, we develop a more healthy, holistic worldview and understanding of interdependence and cause-and-effect (karma), and work toward reducing suffering for ourselves and others.
Mountain Way Zen
“Many paths lead up the mountain, but at the top we all look at the same bright moon.”
The Mountain has long been a metaphor for spiritual practice. The walk to the summit is symbolic of our search for understanding and meaning. As in Zen, which teaches us that everyone has Buddha-nature, the Mountain is egalitarian – all who set out on the spiritual quest are peers, regardless of background and belief. Many paths lead to the top, and there are many ways to walk those paths. Some will journey alone, while others seek kindred spirits with whom to travel. Some will intently make their way to the summit, while others will spend more time on the journey, perhaps not reaching the summit at all. And some, who would be teachers, will walk back down the path to help others farther along.
At Mountain Way Zen, we use the Mountain metaphor as a tool to help guide others in their Zen practice. Thus, in addition to more traditional Zen forms, we often extend our walking meditations to hikes along mountain trails and other wilderness paths. Combining the metaphorical trek up the mountain with this physical activity adds a more holistic dimension to our practice, allowing us to re-connect with nature and the very origins of our Zen heritage. By venturing back into the earth and opening our hearts to the silent wisdom it offers, we can become as the sages of old, as much at home among the people and villages as we are when wandering amongst the wooded hills and white clouds.