On this website you will find a brief introduction to Buddhism and Zen practice, some key texts and details of how to do "zazen", the core Buddhist practice of calm / insight and full expression of balance and the natural state. You will also find details of the practice group here in Wells, to which you are warmly invited.
There are many flavours and styles of Buddhism in the world, from the colourful and deity-laden Tibetan Tantra, the severe Japanese form of Zen, the ancient Indian forms, such as Theravada and the Forest Monks of Sri Lanka, and Western forms that offer visions of community with ideals of spiritual attainment to pursue. They all spring from the fundamental insights into reality that Gotama Buddha realised 2500 years ago that still have relevance for our life today.
The practice on offer here is based on 13C Zen teacher Dogen's expression of Buddhism made clear and accesible for the 21st century. It is simple, direct and with minimal ritual, based in practice and everyday life. It is founded on the Buddha's suggestion that we practice 'present-moment-attention' to discover the true nature of our experience instead of relying on beliefs, teachers or hearsay. Our group has no joining requirements or subscriptions, no hierarchies and no particular beliefs to sign up to. All that is needed is the willingness to explore, question and practice.
Buddhist truth is not even exclusively 'buddhist'. It points directly to the reality we all know right now, to pay close attention to the nature of our experience right now before we overlay it with ideas and concepts, and suggests a way of living rather than something to think about. It is not based in idealistic spiritual aspiration often found in religion, nor is it a materialistic value-free "do-as-you-want" view of life. It does not require a belief in god or gods. It is not Indian, Tibetan, Chinese or Japanese. It is not American or Western, but universal.
Buddhist practice invites us to move out of our heads and fully into life, with pragmatic suggestions as to how we might do that in our everyday experience. The Buddha invited us not to "believe", but to "come and do it for yourself".
The practice of zazen you will learn here sits within a modern interpretation of Zen. Dogen's master-work ‘Shobogenzo’, the root source for the teachings and practice we follow.
My teacher is Mike Eido Luetchford, who learned zazen from Gudo Wafu Nishijima in Japan and brought it to the UK. Gudo learned from Niwa Renpo and Kodo Sawaki, with a line of teachers stretching back to Dogen himself. Nishijima-Roshi spent the better part of his 94 years studying and interpreting the Shobogenzo, and Mike has created several excellent modern interpretations of key chapters.