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    FAQ



    What is the mission of Kannon Do?

    Our focus is on providing a supportive environment that encourages spiritual practice and self reflection so that the mind is able to remain attentive and calm in a world of constant distractions, whether at work, at home, on the meditation cushion, or in any relationship. Its vision is for a society that responds to difficult and stressful situations in ways that are creative and caring.


    Is it OK to show up even though I'm not a member?

    Yes, formal membership is not a requirement.

    If you are a beginner or not familiar with Zen meditation, the best times to come for the first time are: any Wednesday evening at 6:30 PM,  any Saturday Morning at 9:00, or the first  Saturday morning of the month at 10:30 for the  Introduction to Zen  orientation.


    Can my organization rent your facility?

    Unfortunately, no. 

    One of the provisions in the Conditional Use Permit granted by the city of Mountain View precludes Kannon Do from renting or loaning the center to outside groups.


    What is the Dress Code at Kannon Do?

    In order to maintain an environment of modesty and respect for the sensibilities of others, the following simple dress code is suggested:

    • Long, loose-fitting pants for men; long, loose-fitting pants or long skirts for women. No shorts, please.
    • Shirts, tee shirts,  or tops that come up to the neck and cover the upper arms. No tank tops please.


    What kind of Shoes should I wear?

    Slip-on shoes are recommended, and should be worn as follows:

    Zendo:
    No shoes please (Socks are optional)
    Deck:
    Shoes recommended (the deck collects dust and leaves from the surrounding environment). Please avoid muddy boots on the deck.
    Attic Storage:
    Shoes Mandatory (to avoid splinters)
    Rest Rooms:
    No street shoes; please use the sandals provided outside the restroom.


    What is the inscription on the large bell on the deck?

    One thing flows into another

    And cannot be grasped.

    Before the rain stops we hear a bird

    Shunryu Suzuki

    With deepest gratitude and appreciation

    To the countless members and friends

    Whose generosity and vision


    Open the gate

    To selflessness and understanding

    Kannon Do Zen Center

    March 3, 2007


    What are the Guidelines for a Retreat?

    A meditation retreat provides an opportunity to practice for an extended period in a quiet, supportive atmosphere, free from the usual distractions of everyday life.

    To help maintain mindfulness during retreats, we make the following suggestions:

    • Please help us maintain silence during retreats by speaking only if necessary, for instance about meal preparation. If you find it necessary to have a conversation, please do so outside Kannon Do so as not to disturb others.
    • Please refrain from reading and writing except during the study period.
    • Each activity (meditation, meals, work period) is closed with a group bow.  If you need to leave after an activity, please do so after bowing with the group.
    • Be aware that the telephone can be a great distraction. If you find it necessary to use the phone, please do so outside the hearing of others.
    • During the breaks following meals, you can use the Zendo to rest or stretch, or you can walk outside. During breaks, you can also help to wash and dry dishes or put away food.
    • In addition to break times, you can use kinhin (walking meditation) periods to visit the restrooms.

    What should I know about meals during a retreat?

    During retreats we take our meals in a traditional monastic style called "Oryoki".  If you will be staying for one or more meals, please indicate which ones on the sign-up sheet by the zendo door.

    When you arrive at sesshin, take a set of Oryoki bowls from the table, identifying it by writing your name on the wooden stick provided.

    Keep the Oryoki at your seat during sesshin, and when you leave, return the Oryoki to the table.

    If you are unfamiliar with the use of Oryoki, don’t be concerned about getting it “right.”  Try to follow along with someone who understands the practice.  Often an Oryoki instruction session will be held during the week before sesshin.


    What do the different bells mean?

    During Retreats, and on Saturday Morning, you can tell what the next activity will by by listening to the number of bells:
    • Three bells indicates the start of sitting meditation.
    • Two bells indicates the start of walking meditation.
    • One bell indicates the end of a series of meditation periods.

    What is Zen?

    Zen is a spiritual practice that softens the demands of the ego and relieves self oriented habits.  Through the practice, individuals learn to see beyond appearances and understand their fundamental nature.  Zen practice enhances the recognition of our inherent wisdom and compassion, which in turn encourages confidence, patience, and a caring attitude in personal relationships and daily activities.


    Is Zen a Religion?

    Yes, but perhaps not in the usual understanding of religion.  Unlike other major religions, Zen does not postulate or worship an external deity.  And although Buddhist teachings are studied and explored, Zen does not rely on religious doctrine or belief system.  Its primary emphasis is on meditation as the most direct way of gaining insight into ourselves, the nature of the world we live in, and how to live authentically.

    However, as with other major religions, Zen emphasizes ceremony and ritual as an expression of "something greater," beyond the reach of consciousness, signifying the connectedness of all things.

    For a more complete explanation,  please refer to the section "Essentials of Zen Practice."


    How do you explain the growing interest in Zen?

    People are trying to find balance in their lives. The overwhelming influences on the past several generations have been the rapid growth of technology and the increasing abundance of material goods. They have provided us with a high standard of living but have created an environment that has conditioned people to be concerned mainly with what they can do, what they can possess, and what they can have or become in the future. People are starting to discover that this orientation is not enough to provide meaning and satisfaction; there is a growing feeling of restlessness. Individuals are turning to spiritual practice to understand who they are, intrinsically, and what should their life be like beyond possessions and appearances.


    What are your Activities? What do you offer to people who express an interest?

    In addition to a regular daily schedule of early morning and noon meditation, the center is available throughout the day to members and their friends. 

    On Wednesday evening, meditation is followed by a public lecture, or group discussion of a Buddhist text. 

    Several times a year, we hold meditation retreats, varying from one to several days, much like those held in traditional Zen monasteries. 

    In addition, individuals can meet privately with the teacher to discuss their practice. Thanks to the additional space and facilities provided by our new center, we plan to expand our programs to include a children’s program, community outreach, classes, and workshops.

    One of the best times to come for the first time is the first  Saturday morning of the month, at 10:30, for the  Introduction to Zen  orientation.


    How does Zen meditation differ from other forms of meditation?

    In general, meditation is considered to be an activity that we do to relieve stress.  It makes us feel relaxed and energized, similar to having a massage.  But when we return to work or to any stressful situation, we find that we need another massage a few hours later. This is because we may have relieved the symptom of the stress, but we have not addressed its source. 

    Zen meditation helps to reduce stress but more importantly, it can prevent stress. Because it is a practice of awareness, Zen meditation helps us develop our capacity to notice the state of our own mind, so that we become aware when negative emotion starts to arise.  This awareness enables us to consider how to respond positively to the tense or difficult situation, rather than be overwhelmed by it, to let go of the emotion, and not let stress arise.


    Can a non-buddhist practice Zen?

    Zen meditation can be practiced by individuals of any belief.

    Followers of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, as well as people of other religions, can easily include Zen meditation into their spiritual practice.


    How can I practice at home?

    The elements of a meditation practice at home include:

    Solitude.  Unless you are sitting with others, choose a quiet spot where you will not be disturbed.  Try not to sit in a room where somebody else is sleeping.  If possible, let this space be used for nothing but meditation. (Some people use a spare closet.)         

    Duration.  Sit no less than 20 minutes each time.  Thirty minutes is good; forty is better. 

    Keeping time.   If you do not want to watch the clock, a digital timer or digital clock or cell phone provides a noiseless way to keep time. Some people use a lighted stick of incense cut to the correct length to measure the time.  After some experience, the body will know when the appropriate time has elapsed and it will be necessary to look at a clock only once or twice.

    Commitment.  This is the most important attribute.  Do it every day, whether convenient or not, comfortable or not. Do it even if some obstacles arise.  Don't worry about "liking" it, being "bored," "success," or "progress." 

    Self-discipline.    Set aside a certain time of day for meditation, preferably upon arising, before the mind has started its intellectual activity and you can feel the new day begin.  

    If you feel resistance to getting out of bed when the alarm rings, quickly put one foot on the floor. The rest of you will find it easier to follow.


    How do I Join the Kannon Do Mailing List?

    There are several ways for you to hear from us.

    Mailing list: Announcements on events and issues concerning the sangha are posted to this list. To enroll, please send an email to info@kannondo.org. To unsubscribe from the mailing list, just send an email to sangha+unsubscribe@kannondo.org.

    Monthly Newsletter: Subscribe here. Unsubscribe here.

    Facebook Page: On our Facebook page, you can read about dharma quotes, practice stories, photos of the zendo and social activities along with upcoming events.



    How do I post to the Kannon Do Mailing List?

    The Kannon Do Mailing list is intended for announcing upcoming events and activities at Kannon Do. Only subscribers can post to the list.

    If your message is an announcement and you are subscribed to the list, all you have to do is send an email to sangha@kannondo.org.


    Why are there advertisements in the messages?

    Kannon Do does not put advertisements in our mailing list messages. However, If you are subscribed to our mailing list with a free email account from someone such as Yahoo, Gmail, or Hotmail, it is very likely that they will inject advertisements into the emails you receive.

    To turn off the ads you will need to subscribe to the list with a different email account.