In another dingy part of town, another standard Polish flat converted, at least in name, to a zendo. Another former living room (I picture a guy with a big belly just sitting on the couch with a vacant look) is now devoted to devotion: a statue of Buddha and glamour shots of Zen masters at one end of the room and a big bonging bell at the other.
On the way into the room, step in on the left foot and bow to Buddha. On the way out, turn and bow again, and step out on the right foot. Between the two bows, sit for forty minutes with your eyes not closed but not open, walk in circles for five minutes to unnumb your legs, and then sit for another forty minutes not quite looking at anything. Tea and fruit is served afterwards.
Differences between this place and the other one:
- The other guys are Korean Zen via the US; these guys are Japanese Zen via France
- The other guys sit facing the center of the room and one another; these guys sit facing the wall
- The other guys wear socks in the dharma room; these guys go barefoot
- The other guys loan you a gray robe to wear; these guys let you wear street clothes as long as you're not too flashy
- The other guys encourage you to get up and stretch if you can't stand it anymore; these guys tell you to sit through the pain
- The other guys sing and bow a lot; these guys, at least on the night I am there, only sit
- The other guys read a koan aloud; these guys do not
- The other guys have no platform; these guys have a platform for the monk leading things
- The other guys are just two or three people plus me; these guys, fresh from a public presentation by the big guy on a visit to town, are about eight regulars and eight visitors
- The other guys are actually guys; these guys include three women (slightly segregated from the men, though)