Dharma Rain Zen Center - FAQs
Dharma Rain Zen Center
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the main weekly events?
Our most heavily-attended events are Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings.
See our regular weekly schedule. We start
promptly on time. Newcomers are always welcome, and we recommend that you arrive
15-20 minutes early, so we can give
basic instruction and orientation. Check the Events page for the current schedule,
as it can change slightly at different times of the year.
On Wednesdays, evening
service and zazen (sitting
meditation) begin upstairs in the Zendo (meditation hall) at 7pm. The service
is a recitation of the Fukanzazengi (or
Kyojukaimon in February and March),
and takes about 10 minutes. From 7:10 to
7:40pm is zazen. Then there’s
a break for tea and cookies.
Classes begin a
few minutes before 8pm and go to about 9pm in the downstairs lecture room of
the Zendo following zazen and evening service. Wednesday night classes are
open to all, and are particularly useful for people new to Zen practice. There
is no charge, though donations are gratefully accepted.
Sunday morning services begin
at 8:30am and include two 30-minute periods of zazen with
10 minutes of kinhin (slow walking meditation) between them, followed by a
chanting service at 9:40am, informal tea about 10:15am, and either a dharma
talk or a discussion led by a senior member beginning around 10:30am.
Other weekly meditation and services
Click to see the regular schedule, a description of other
weekly meditation and services, or the current calendar
How much does it cost?
Most of our classes and events are
free. If we have to charge something (because it costs us, for food,
lodging, utilities, etc.), we keep the fee as low as possible. The Center is
supported primarily through membership and
donations to free events are always appreciated. If you have questions
please contact us. Donate to
or to our Capital Campaign.
What should I wear?
Wear something comfortable and loose but not be so sloppy
as to be disrespectful or distracting. Since we sit in rows, bright colors
and patterns, tie-dyes, Hawaiian prints and slogans can distract someone
sitting behind you. When in doubt, dark and/or neutral colors work best. Please
do not wear shorts, short skirts or tank-tops in the zendo, even
on hot days.
Don’t wear anything likely to jingle or make other noise. The Zendo
is a place for meditation, reverence and mindfulness. It takes each of us to
sustain this special space for others.
Where is the Center?
Located in inner southeast Portland, the main temple building is on the corner
of SE 25th and Madison, one block north of Hawthorne. For more detailed information
about location, see the Contact page.
How can I learn more about Zen practice?
Each month Dharma Rain Zen Center offers introductory
workshops on Zen practice
that are open to all without charge. There is no need to register or bring
anything. Wear comfortable clothing. Workshops are usually offered at
the Dharma House. “Zen Meditation” covers
the essentials of zazen (sitting meditation). “Starting A Practice” describes
how to bring zazen practice into daily life with an explanation of the forms
used in the zendo and during services. Each is a two-hour presentation. Learn
more about our workshops. Learn more about zazen.
See the current
schedule. In addition, the Wednesday classes often
include basic instruction in basic Zen practice. Becoming a serious
practitioner is something that develops over time with consistent practice.
What are all those foreign-sounding words?
Because our ancestral lineage of teachers comes through Japan, we use several
Japanese terms. Some Sanskrit terms have come through various languages, some
transliterated several times. It is often useful to use the original words
rather than translating them. See a glossary of
terms we use.
Is Zen the same as Buddhism?
Zen is a branch of Buddhism, which began in India about 500 B.C.E. (Before
the Common Era).
Read more about Buddhism and Soto Zen. Buddhism
also travelled to other countries, most notably Tibet, China, and Southeast
Asia, before coming to the United States. The practices from those countries
and different aspects are emphasized, but all Buddhists follow the same basic
In addition, whatever unique characteristics Buddhism may have, it respects
other paths. People have differing spiritual needs, and many paths exist to
needs. Other religions and most non-religious paths to fulfillment are
approached in a spirit of collegiality rather than competition.
How do I become a Buddhist?
The different branches of Buddhism approach this slightly differently, though
all emphasize taking refuge in the Three Treasures (Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha).
At Dharma Rain Zen Center, we do a ceremony called Jukai Lay
Ordination once a year that involves taking the 16
Bodhisattva Precepts. Participating in this ceremony makes one a Buddhist
of the ten quarters, which just means Buddhists, everywhere (the ten directions
are the eight compass points, plus
up and down). Lay Ordination is not required for membership in
the Zen Center, nor is membership required to receive the Precepts.
What is the significance of wagessa and rakusu?
When someone takes the precepts the first time, formally becoming a Buddhist,
he or she is given a wagessa, which is a strip of cloth worn around the neck
and joined at the bottom with a decorative knot. When someone becomes a formal
student of one of our teachers (which can only happen after building up a
relationship over a number of years), he or she takes the precepts again
and becomes a “lay disciple.” Then they make and then wear a
rakusu, which looks like a square bib hanging on two strips of cloth and
is also worn around the neck.
What’s the difference between rebirth and reincarnation?
In Zen Roots, Kyogen Carlson quotes A Manual of Buddhism (Narada
Thera, The Buddhist Missionary Society, Kuala Lumpur, 1971, pp 94-96) as follows: “According
to Buddhism, apart from mind and matter which constitute this so-called being,
with or has obtained in a mysterious way from a mysterious Being or force.
The Buddhist doctrine of rebirth should be distinguished from the theory of
re-incarnation or transmigration, for Buddhism denies the existence of an unchanging
or eternal soul.”
we talk about rebirth in this lifetime. One way to see this is to think
of yourself at a much younger age. Are you the same person you were then? Not
yet, something of that person led to who you are now. In a way, the self you
were then died, and you have been reborn to be the self you are now. The person
who sat down at the computer a few moments ago is not quite the same person
who is here now. You can mentally put those events of birth and death closer
you realize that the process happens over and over again each thought-moment. Karma is
a word that expresses the process of how the way you live in this moment affects
what happens in the next moment, or the next year, or the next decade.
This is a very brief introduction to some complex matters. We explore
some of these kinds of questions in our Wednesday