“If we are thoroughly, intimately present in each thing through and through, then all of our activities have the possibility of including everything.”
Enlightenment in our tradition is not a flash of insight or an object obtained from a mystical experience, but how we engage wholeheartedly with the simple activities that make up existence. Work practice is a kind of laboratory for these activities. Within the supportive container of the Zen Center, we extend zazen mind beyond seated meditation and into our daily lives.
Work practice can be great or small: erecting new buildings or raking the gravel. Whatever the task, it is our presence with the activity before us that extends the path of awakening for our self and for others. Through dedicated work practice, practitioners can transform the center grounds into a piece of themselves and a spiritual sanctuary for generations to come.
We strongly encourage members and anyone interested in strengthening their practice to volunteer with the Zen Center. Traditional temples relied on their community to uphold their grounds, and volunteering engages with an ancient practice of the Sangha. We organize our work at the center under the five administrator positions of Zen temples to reflect this tradition.
The kanin leads the center and oversees its general affairs. They organize the communications, development, finance, membership, events, and administrative duties that uphold the Sangha and temple. Volunteers who like to engage with the community or work on special projects can support the kanin by organizing events or writing for the newsletter.
Tenzo (Head Cook)
The tenzo is an important position in the Zen temple, tasked with nourishing and bringing “the assembly satisfaction, peace, and joy,” in the words of Eihei Dogen. Volunteers who would like to help feed their community might help the tenzo by cooking meals on Saturdays.
Ino (Maintains Zendo Pratice)
The ino oversees the zendo, or meditation hall. The ino leads the doanryo to deepen the container of ritual practice with the sounds, sights, and smells of the zendo. Volunteers who enjoy creating this atmosphere might help set up the altar for service on Fridays or Saturdays, ring the bonsho, or strike instruments during service.
Shissui (Work Leader)
The shissui stewards the physical grounds of the temple, caring for the land that beautifies and supports Zen practice. Volunteers who like to work with their hands and spend time outdoors can help the shissui tend to the garden, work on the buildings, or clear their mind raking the gravel.
Shika (Guest Person)
The shika creates a welcoming environment for practitioners by arranging accommodations and maintaining an intimate atmosphere in all the cabins. Volunteers who like to care for the members of a community can help the shika with activities like preparing the sangha house, receiving special guests, or arranging flower vases.