Environmentally Responsible Zen Practice
Our weekly online sangha meetings have been going very well, with — thus far — people in Scotland, Cornwall, Italy, Croatia, France, and various American states doing zazen together. Our little group ranges from newcomers to people who're in their second decade of practicing together. It's been going so well, I think this ought to be the future, or at least a large part of the future, of Zen practice.
Of course, it's good for people who live near one another to practice together in the same physical space. But so much of Buddhist practice in the west has involved flying hundreds, or thousands, of miles to sit together in meditation or visit teachers. I knew an American monk who made an annual flight from the American Southwest to the Netherlands... to sit in a zendo for a week. Not only is this the practice of the affluent (what some of us call The Upper Middle Way), its contribution to global heating is unconscionable.
Some of the ways we've been living during lockdown should be continued when the pandemic is over. Frivolous air travel should not resume. Buddhist practitioners who don't have a local sangha can practice together virtually, and local sanghas can also be part of the international sangha. Jikan, daishin and I plan to open a zendo near Garelochhead in Scotland, where we'll hold sesshin (meditation retreats), and we plan to stream those online. Dokusan can be done by a video phone call.