"Meditation practice can help bring peace and happiness to the world. No one is too sinful to do meditation,
no one is too wrong to meditate. It takes only willingness to begin meditation and a resolve to continue.
One should never underestimate what one's sincere commitment to meditation practice can do for the world."
—Venerable Samu Sunim
Why learn Meditation?
Meditation is the heart of Buddhism and the direct path to freedom and enlightenment.The prevailing spirit of Buddhist teachings and meditation practice is that one is always capable of helping oneself regardless of one's situation. It is the Buddhist belief that common, ordinary beings are Buddhas, that is, unattained Buddhas. However, we usually lack full trust in ourselves and as a result, all too easily relinquish our trust and willpower to outside agents. Meditation practice challenges this lack of trust and willpower from the very outset. Any sincere and serious practitioner of Buddhist meditation soon realizes that one cannot sit in meditation for long without both accepting one's life and the world, for meditation is a world-affirming and a life-renewing experience. Beginners follow the three guidelines: simplicity, clarity, and spiritual strength.
Introductory Meditation Course & Beginner's Zen Retreat
The Regular Introductory Meditation Course takes five Tuesday or Thursday evenings (Ann Arbor & Toronto) or four Tuesday evenings (Chicago & New York City).
Beginner's Zen Retreat runs from Friday evening at 7 pm through Saturday at noon with an overnight stay at the temple. The Retreat serves both out-of-towners and those who cannot make it to the regular evening course, and also those who wish to experience temple life by staying overnight. Both courses cover the same content.
The cost for the courses and retreats are $160 ($120 for full-time students & unwaged). To register online, please choose the location (Ann Arbor, Chicago, Toronto, NYC) and make a non-refundable deposit of $50 (NYC folks, please pay the full fee online or in cash on the first class).
Benefits of Meditation Practice
You learn how to be peaceful, content and happy and to develop a spiritual attitude to your life.
People living in the consumer society suffer from an excess of materialism and lack of spiritual values. The result is a lot of worry and a lack of peace of mind. Peace of mind is your single most important asset for it is the basis of a happy life. The most simple and wholesome way of attaining peace of mind is to learn to sit still and stop worrying through the cultivation of ocean mind and "let go" practice. At the same time, it is important to embrace spiritual values such as gratitude and reverence.
You learn to concentrate your mind and take care of this present moment.
Modern society is complex, fragmented and full of distractions. There is a general lack of purpose and moral integrity in people's lives. Many feel helpless and unhappy. There are two ways you can help yourself. One is awareness: you have to become fully aware of yourself and your own life by paying attention. The other is concentration: you have to stop running after distractions and start taking care of your present life for the sake of the world. The sooner the better. Focused attention and concentrated mind take care of this very moment of your life, which is the most precious thing in your life and contains both your past and future.
You learn to strive for right livelihood and compassionate living and to become accountable for your actions.
Ahimsa or non-violence is the first Buddhist precept. First you must start to lead a harmless life of non-injury, not hurting, not wasting and not polluting. It requires attention and a mindful attitude. You learn to take good care of things at hand. Life lived fully in each moment is the end and purpose in itself and not the means for something else. Thus, each task you perform becomes an awakening of your heart and fulfillment of your life. Buddhist life, in short, is no other than a life of full heart and enlightenment.
FAQ 1. I am not Buddhist. Can I take your meditation course?
Anyone who wishes to learn meditation can participate in these sessions and benefit from them. People who take the Introductory Meditation Course fall into two categories:
People who are interested in or are sympathetic to Buddhism
People who are not interested in Buddhism but would like to learn meditation for their own personal benefit
FAQ 2. I have to miss the first class. Can I still take the course?
Yes, you can. The first class is an introduction. Its theme will be repeated throughout the course.
FAQ 3. I would love to take your course but can't afford the fee.
Please contact your local temple and explain your situation. The teachers might be able to arrange a discount or work-exchange.
FAQ 4. I understand that I am required to take the course in order to become a regular member. I have been meditating a while on my own. Do I still need to take the course?
If you wish to become a regular member, we strongly suggest that you learn or re-learn meditation practice from the temple. Your "Beginner's Mind" will benefit you and the community.