A Zen Gate is an entry to the Buddha Way through Zen practice. Our Zen activities - meditation, listening to the Dharma, meeting with our teacher, mindful service to each other - are all practices that help us to be aware that we live every moment on the threshold of a deeper awareness of ourselves and our community. We strive to take that step toward truth and self awareness at every opportunity, and just continue to enter the gate that is always before us. Our intention is to be inclusive and available to all, and we welcome a diversity of participants.
In the Four Great Vows, which we chant in every meeting, we affirm our awareness that Dharma gates are boundless. That is, that the opportunity to encounter Buddha's teaching, right in the middle of our daily lives, is always present. We vow to enter each one of these gates, to realize, moment after moment, our actual place in the world.
Dragons, to our East Asian ancestors, were guardians of the great wisdom, symbols of the truth itself. Although we have ideas about how dragons should look and behave, they actually appear in countless forms! Any being who, in her everyday activity, expresses and preserves Buddha's truth is actually a dragon. Just to find our place where we are, right at this moment, is to become a dragon, right at this moment.
In a famous passage from the essay in which he recommends zazen to everyone, our thirteenth-century Japanese founder Eihei Dogen wrote: "Please, honored followers of Zen, do not be suspicious of the true dragon." He was asserting that the practice of Zen meditation is the true dragon, the actual practice by which all enlightened beings negotiate the way. Furthermore, he said that everyone who ever enlightened, throughout history, has engaged in this simple practice of just sitting. At the same time that zazen is the Zen gate, it also is "the true dragon," the Ancient path followed by all our spiritual ancestors, and the essence of our ancestors themselves.
So really, zazen is both the ancient dragon and the Zen gate! Our name, Ancient Dragon Zen Gate is just a poetic way of saying, "Here we practice zazen." Please join us any time.