Dharma Rain Zen Center - Chairs Guidelines
Guidelines for Using Chairs during Meditation and Services
These guidelines are proposed for Dharma Rain Zen Center services because
the use of chairs in the Zendo has not been a traditional procedure for Zen
meditation or Zen services and, consequently, there are no formalized policies
or guidelines prescribed for the use of chairs. Also, the physical limitations
requiring a person to use chair sitting posture will vary for different people,
and those who require a chair should do what is comfortable for them, given
their physical limitations. However, everyone should be guided by a posture
and procedure that will cause the least amount of disturbance and distraction
Since uniformity tends to decrease the potential for distraction and increase
mindfulness, the following general guidelines are suggested for those who require
chairs in the Zendo. As with all rules of form it depends on the person’s
disability, and the form is adjusted accordingly.
Before a meditation period or a service the chair should be positioned in the
direction that would allow the sitter to face the same direction as everyone
else. For example, for zazen the chair faces the outside and for services
the chair faces the central axis of the Zendo. This is completed before the
person bows to the seat and to the Sangha.
Bowing Before and After Sitting
When approaching the chair to sit, the person always approaches from the inner
side; he/she faces outward when bowing to his/her seat and inward when bowing
to the Sangha, regardless of whether the chair is positioned facing inward
or outward. When the chair is facing outward for meditation, the person will
walk around the chair to sit in it after bowing to the chair and to the Sangha.
Changing the Chair Orientation
When a person needs to change the direction that he/she is facing (for example,
at the end of morning meditation before morning service begins), the person
will rise and turn the chair around to face the correct position and walk
around the chair to sit in it.
If the person using the chair is unable to complete full bows, then as an alternative,
that person may stand bow from the waist.
Positioning Bowing Mats
If the person is using a bowing mat, the unfolded mat is positioned on the
floor in front of the person’s feet. The empty case may be placed neatly
under the chair or on the side of the zabuton. When the bowing mat is unfolded
for bowing and services, the mat is spread partly under the chair and partly
in front of the chair so that the mat will be under the person’s feet
when sitting. If a zabuton is present, the mat should overlap the zabuton.
If the person is unable to bend over to spread the mat, the bowing mat may
remain folded in the person’s lap, on the floor in front of the person’s
feet, or it may remain in the case on top of the zabuton.
Wearing a Kesa
If the person is wearing a kesa, the back of the kesa is fluffed out and free
from the seat; one never sits on a kesa.
Chant Book and Personal Items
Chant books are quietly placed on the floor under the chair when not in use.
Personal items (e.g., shawls, blankets, etc.) are neatly arranged under the
chair when not in use.