Inner Peace Fest & 1st Beginners Practice – Notes from Practice May 5th & 6th 2012

Posted on May 11, 2012 in Audio & Video, Events, Everything Practice, Featured, Notes from Practice, Past Events, UZ Videos | 0 comments

Inner Peace Fest & 1st Beginners Practice – Notes from Practice May 5th & 6th 2012

Last weekend was a great weekend of happenings for us at Underdog Zendo.

Inner Peace Festival – May 5th 2012

Saturday some of us went to the  Chicago Inner Peace Festival to join MedMob Chicago in meditation. Our meditation time was during the Gong Meditation performed by Kenny Kolter, which was interesting for us because in zazen we do not try to create a blissful experience, rather we just calmly sit in bare-bones reality & as such we work to just take in all sense experience equally. So we hear the Gongs, we hear the planes passing over head, we hear the children & passer-byes, we hear the wind, & the birds.  That said, we sat with MedMob & friends absorbing the sounds in calm meditation. The gentle sounds were simply beautiful & Kenny Kolter is a joy to see. I have recorded the tail-end of the event & am posting it below.

It was especially a positive venture having the opportunity to connect with the Christian Mystics. Although it appears to be organized in large part by a Christian Mystic organization called the Centers of Light, they seemed to be sincerely  interested in peaceful unity rather than co-opting people into their particular religion. A good portion of us that come to Zen in the West for various reasons arrive with an aversion to Christianity, a portion even scarred by it. Christian Mysticism is quite unique as it is the contemplative practice of Christianity. Every religion has its mystics & contemplatives & although we may have noticeable differences, we in Zen have more in common with these traditions than not. There are even cases of Priests  that are dually ordained in both Zen & Christian Mystic traditions. I might observe the main difference between popular Christianity & Christian Mysticism is that many Christians tend to practice by talking to God to get some kind of result while the Christian Mystics work through meditation & other means to listen & respond to God instead. This similar act of listening is what we do in zazen & this practice of still mindful attention, clearing our minds, looking & listening gives us the opportunity to open up beyond our ordinary small-selves & naturally begin to experience life more clearly. This clarity brings kindness, love, compassion, contentedness, mindfulness, non-judging, peacefulness & balance… what many religions are supposed to be about but few seem to practice.  Although there is more to learn about these folks, it seems as these wonderful people are something like Zen Christians which they would more likely be burned at the stake for heresy than to throw stones at others! That said, they seem to be compassionately open people & are fellow Underdogs in my book :) So I am looking forward to connecting with them deeper & possibly the of building positive bridges into the future.

This event was filled with many stripes of contemplative traditions from Hindu, to Christian Mystic, to Buddhist & more. We unfortunately had to split half way through due to some obligations with my Martial Arts Group but all & all this was a real pleasure to participate in this event & next year I would like to participate further in the Inner Peace Festival both with MedMob & UZ in the effort of building a peaceful, loving & harmonious World.

Here is the video & photo snippets from –
Kenny Kolter’s Gong Meditation
with MedMob Chicago
& Friends

For more on the Inner Peace Festival go to:
For more on The Centers of Light:
MedMob Chicago:

Beginners To Zen Practice Period – May 6th 2012

Then the following day was our 1st Beginners to Practice Period. It is a wonderful step for us to begin a variety of practice periods & a show of our growth in development as a Zen Practice Group. It was a pleasure to offer more in-depth explanation & instruction. I think this will definitely help us in several was. For one, people deserve to have some idea of what they are getting into before they commit to a practice. Secondly, they have the opportunity to start out with more in-depth zazen instruction to help point them in the right direction of practice. Third, it will help slim down our talking  during our regular Practice Periods so we can spend more time engaging in the heart of practice; silent sitting. Also there will be days in the near future where I will not be able to be present to facilitate the Practice Periods & having a separate Beginners Period will enable us to maintain practice without the presence of a Practice Leader. During these times, we will ask for no beginners, a person will be appointed as time keeper & will not have practice  instruction for these periods.

We still have some timing issues to work out but all in all it was a great 1st Beginners Period!

Lastly, we were planning to attend the 1st Full Moon Jam of the year but it was canceled due to the weather. A great practice of no non-attachment to expectations! Next Full Moon Jam, if circumstances permit, we will definitely be there! :)

Endless Bows to all beings,


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