What is Open Mind Zen?
Open Mind Zen is a unique form of Zen practice based on long-standing methods such as sitting meditation and koan practice, but also incorporating more modern modalities. We believe that the core of Zen Practice is realization and actualization of Awakened Mind in everyday life.
Zen is a true Science of Mind in which the student uses his or her own body and mind as the laboratory to engage in the experiment of spirituality. This science includes working with the mind, body and spirit for a complete experience of freedom and awakening.
The foundation of Open Mind Zen Practice embraces the following techniques:
1) Zazen, or Zen Meditation. Meditation is the core of Zen practice. This is a lifetime endeavor which one never outgrows and which deepens over time. There is simply no substitute for a regular sitting meditation practice, and at Open Mind Zen we encourage an individual’s practice through regular weekly sessions, retreats and workshops.
2) Koan Practice. Koans are stories or interactions between students and teachers, most of which come from the era called the Golden Age of Zen in ancient China. They are used as a method of realizing our True Self and then deepening that realization. These stories, or “cases,” are paradoxical in nature, and as such, they cause a student to examine human beings’ overreliance on the logical mind as a way to solve life’s issues. In OMZ we study the same koan collections used in traditional Zen. We also focus on the commentaries and poetry associated with each koan.
3) Zen Dialogue. This method is based on the Voice Dialogue work of Hal and Sidra Stone. Dialogue work has as its premise that there are many different aspects of the Self that often don’t work in harmony. It is unparalleled in bringing both beginners and experienced students to a place of clarity. These facilitated sessions are an integral part of becoming an Open Mind Zen student, and are especially helpful for those starting koan practice.
4) Teacher Contact. It is very important to understand that Zen is not just meditation per se, but rather a process of uncovering unconscious habit patterns and ways of seeing our life. This is extremely difficult to accomplish without a teacher, as the teacher helps us to go where we would not normally go on our own. Regular meetings with a fully authorized Zen Teacher are highly encouraged as a way to go deeper in our practice.
We invite all who feel a connection with Open Mind Zen to come and join the experiment! If you are within commuting distance, we suggest you begin by coming to a Sunday Dharma Talk, conducted by Sensei Al Fusho Rapaport or authorized Assistant Teachers. The talks begin with a 30-minute, silent meditation period.
Then, if you want to proceed further, we will schedule a beginning orientation, which lasts about an hour. Areas covered include basic meditation practice, history of Zen and Open Mind Zen, and options for studying at Open Mind Zen Center.
If you live outside of the East Central Florida area, we also have a Correspondence Course which parallels our student path of meditation and koan practice. In this Course we schedule a weekly Skype appointment during which time a teacher is available for spiritual counseling.