“… Cease from practice based on intellectual understanding, pursuing words and following after speech, and learn the backward step that turns your light inwardly to illuminate your self … If you want to attain suchness, you should practice suchness without delay.”
– Fukanzazengi, A Universal Recommendation of Zazen, Dōgen Zenji
Each of the current core members of Jonah House practices Zen Buddhism. Joe has been involved with the Mindfulness Community for many years. Tucker Brown and Emily Parr have taken vows as Zen Buddhists and are affiliated with the Order of Clear Mind Zen, located in Las Cruces, NM. In addition, Tucker is an ordained priest in the order.
We practice zazen every morning and evening and welcome others to join us. Please call ahead, because our practice times vary depending on the children’s waking and sleep schedules. While life in community with two little ones under two is a juggling act, in the future we hope to offer more extensive meditation retreats (e.g., zazenkai and sesshin), including formal liturgies in the Sōtō Zen tradition. We’re committed to creating a welcoming and intimate experience so that all who come, whether beginners or dedicated practitioners, may encounter Zen meditation in a direct, supportive and authentic way.
There are no fees or dues associated with participation in our sangha. Simply call to give us notice and come as you are. Donations (dana) are welcome but not required.
We are grateful to open our home, hearts and lives to all and uniquely to those who share a desire to walk the path of Zen and the Buddha Way.
Sōtō Zen Buddhism
Through Emily and Tucker, Jonah House is affiliated with The Order of Clear Mind Zen, which was founded in 2005 by Rev. Dr. Harvey Daiho Hilbert-roshi. Clear Mind is an Engaged Zen Buddhist training and practice order in the lineage of Rev. Dr. Soyu Matsuoka-roshi, one of the earliest, pioneering Japanese Zen Masters to establish the practice of Sōtō Zen Buddhism in North America.
The Order is located at Daibutsuji Zen Temple, home to the Zen Center of Las Cruces (NM) and guided by the abbot, Rev. Kathryn Shukke Hilbert.
To read more about The Order of Clear Mind Zen, including its founding, lineage and teachers, please visit their website.
Mindfulness and Engaged Buddhism
Through Joe, our sangha draws on the teachings and practices of mindfulness, according to the Vietnamese Zen tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, with a particular focus on engaged Buddhism, which strives to bring the fruits of practice to work for non-violent social change.
The Sangha at Jonah House hosts weekly zazen, book study, samu, and street practice with an emphasis on nonviolent resistance. We are collaborative and non-hierarchical in nature. With few exceptions, we share practice roles interchangeably.
We do offer opportunities to experience Zen more formally in the Sōtō tradition. As an ordained priest, Tucker performs Zen liturgies in the lineage of the Order of Clear Mind Zen. He’s also available to work individually with people wishing to study and make a formal commitment to Zen, tailoring each person’s practice path so that it meets their particular needs and life situations.
Zazen is a Japanese term, which, directly translated, means seated meditation. The aim of zazen is shikantaza, or “just sitting.” “Just” suggests sitting wholeheartedly. While it seems simple, it’s remarkable how hard it is to just sit, to do so with one’s whole and open awareness! When practicing zazen we may find ourselves occupied by a seemingly ceaseless stream of “distractions.” Our habitual attachments to and identifications with certain thoughts, emotions, fantasies and reactions to physical sensations can tempt us away from embodying and abiding in the reality of the present moment. Just as it is — which includes those distractions! Zazen clarifies both the content and nature of this grasping to reveal a clear mind: a posture of living wholeheartedly in this moment.
Kinhin is walking meditation, usually practiced between periods of zazen. Walking, we aim to “realize” the same awareness practiced on the cushion. Just sitting. Just walking. Stillness in motion, what Matsuoka-roshi would call Moku-rai, or thundering silence. There is an old Zen saying that applies here:
When sitting, sit. When walking, walk. Above all, don’t wobble!
Before and after sitting periods we chant key texts and verses from the Buddhist tradition. Our selection of chants incorporates verses, vows and songs common to liturgies in both the Sōtō and Mindfulness traditions.
Each evening, after zazen, we check in with one another. During this form of dharma discussion we share from our personal, lived experience, what’s happening both during and outside our time together in the zendo. Dharma discussion is a contemplative practice. We speak for ourselves and not for each other. We also try to allow for periods of silence between sharings to facilitate heartfelt listening.
In addition to our practice on the cushion, we try to manifest the Buddha Way in everything we do, from work to play, whether cleaning or caring for Auggie and Evie, Nuncles and Pema.
Because we expend considerable effort stewarding for the land, samu, or work practice, is especially important to us. We resist and bear witness to the mainstream cultural pressure to “get it done,” including its accompanying anxieties. We endeavor to do what’s before us to do, but contemplatively, allowing the work to find its own rhythm and communicate its own intelligence.
Each of us practices art in one form or another, whether through writing, sewing, sculpting, cooking, landscaping, music, or body work. We approach these activities as dharma gates, ways of expressing the substance of our lives and practice. We also welcome other people to share their forms of art and to instruct us in them!
We seek to embody the peacemaking tradition of Jonah House through our Zen Buddhist practice. Beyond the daily rituals of our lives in community, we also participate in social justice actions in the region and actively work to counter — hopefully with skill and compassion — all forms of violence and oppression in our neighborhood, city, nation, and world.