Temples with a twist as Zen Buddhists get a new home in the city center


A global pandemic, a war in Europe and a looming climate catastrophe. These are incredibly stressful times indeed. In such troubling circumstances, Zen Buddhism offers an oasis of calm.

In Zen Buddhism there is no goal. It is not a goal-oriented practice. It’s about your mind, body and spirit,” said Reverend Myozan Kodo, senior teacher at Zen Buddhism Ireland at the country’s premier center for the religion.

“It’s not a self-help book, it’s not something that pretends to fix your life. You are just. It’s about returning to the natural state. It’s about figuring out who you really are, underneath it all.”

The Dublin Zen Center is in the heart of Temple Bar and Rev. Kodo said its facility is a reflection of the call by the people of Ireland to embrace the religion.

“I think people are tired and exhausted. Our resources are exhausted. We try to offer a sanctuary of silence. There is no judgment here. It’s about silence,” said the 52-year-old father of two. “It’s about meditation and being still and still for half an hour. If you do that, you give up your struggles.”

The center opened its doors last weekend and prior to that Rev. Kodo ran a ‘temple in a suitcase’ and rented premises in Dublin by the hour for devotees to gather and meditate.

Now, thanks to a full-time lease, he finally has a solid base. It is not a religion that tries to recruit followers, its ethos is the opposite – people who want to become Zen Buddhists will look for it.

“Zen Buddhism is an ancient tradition based on meditation. We’re trying to take it to the streets to help society. We are involved in cleanups and other things to help people. But we’re not trying to recruit anyone. People come to us.

“I sent for a Franciscan novice and a Catholic nun to mediate with us. If someone comes here to mediate and it stinks of alcohol, I won’t turn them away. There is no judgement.”

Zen Buddhism is the meditation school of Buddhism with an emphasis on shikantaza, meditation of “simply sitting”. According to the last census there are 10,000 Buddhists in Ireland.

According to Rev. Kodo, half of the Zen Buddhists here are Irish, and there are more women than men. Every evening, followers of the religion gather at the center to meditate.

It also conducts online meditations for those living outside the capital, as well as those who prefer not to meet in person because of Covid-19.

There are traditions that are followed when people come together to meditate. There is at least half an hour of silent meditation where people sit on cushions in complete silence, followed by walking meditation. This is followed by a formal teaching by Rev. Kodo.

A native of Galway, he was ordained into his lineage of Zen Buddhism in 2011. The former journalist, who teaches media at TU Dublin in Grangegorman, became a Buddhist in the 1990s.

“I grew up Catholic in Ireland in the majority tradition. But I decided I didn’t belong. In 2011 I was ordained as a Buddhist priest. I belong to the Japanese school of Buddhism. In 2014 I became part of the Dharma transmission.

“This gave me authority to teach and ordain other people. I have five people ordained and I have two more wives who will be ordained next year. For me it’s a religion. But it’s also just a way of life. a way of being

“I don’t live in a monastery. I don’t walk around in my robes on a daily basis. I have a job, I have a wife and children. But that’s a very important part of who I am.”

Being a Buddhist is not always easy in Ireland as it is a minority religion, he added.

“For someone who dies in a hospital or hospice, there is no box that ticks that you are a Buddhist. And Buddhists here often have to send their children to Catholic schools because there is no alternative.

“There is no doubt that there is a great deal of interest in Buddhism in Ireland – if it weren’t for that, this center would not have opened.”

The practice of mindfulness emerged from Zen Buddhism as people around the world sought meaning in an increasingly chaotic world.

“Secular mindfulness grew out of Zen Buddhism. It is one of the main practices in the Zen Buddhist religion. Buddhism is not a strange, exotic thing. It can be a challenging life.

“It’s about meeting yourself and realizing who you are. And to live a true life in which you are one with yourself. This is my calling. It deeply nourishes my life.” Temples with a twist as Zen Buddhists get a new home in the city center

Fry Electronics Team

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