What is Zen?

Buddhism began in India around 2,500 years ago developing out of the life and experience of Siddhartha Gautama, who is usually referred to as the Buddha (meaning one who is awake). Zen is a branch of Buddhism which developed principally in China and Japan, before coming to the west.

Zen challenges us to leave behind all of our ideas, thoughts and feelings about who we are and what life is about and to experience life directly. It requires no adherence to any belief system but rather stresses the importance of one's own personal experience of the teachings of the Buddha.

The word Zen comes from the Sanskrit word 'dhyana' which means absorption or meditation. The heart of Zen practice is zazen (sitting meditation). Through the practice of zazen, it is possible to cultivate greater awareness and the ability to be more present and engaged in all aspects of our daily lives.

In this way, we can live both a fuller and more fulfilling life as well as developing greater empathy and compassion for others.

Articles and Talks on Zen

Words from the Zendo
A compilation of encouragement talks by Sensei Karl Kaliski

Lay Practice (Part One)
An edited transcript of the first of two Dharma talks given at Zengarden (May 2014)

Lay Practice (Part Two)
An edited transcript of the second of two Dharma talks given at Zengarden (May 2014)

Working with Koans
An edited transcription of a teisho given by Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede during the 1992 October sesshin.

The Four Vows (Audio: MP3)
Bodhin Kjolhede Roshi, Rochester Zen Center.

An Overview of the Precepts (Audio: MP3)
A teisho by Bodhin Kjolhede Roshi, November 2013.

Cloud Water Zen SCIO - Scottish Charity Number SCO46443