The purpose of Basic Buddhism Evenings is to cover a number of the fundamental Buddhist teachings which underpin our practice of Buddhism. These evenings are particularly relevant to those who are fairly new to Buddhism or our tradition, but anyone is welcome to come along.
The evening starts with a short ceremony called Evening Service. This includes the recitation of "Rules for Meditation", which is a text by the thirteenth century Sōtō Zen monk Great Master Dōgen. Dōgen is an important figure in the history of the tradition, and this scripture gives an excellent description of many aspects of the practice of meditation.
Evening Service is followed by two periods of meditation, with walking meditation in between.
Each of the meditation periods is approximately 20 minutes, with about five minutes walking.
Following this there will be a Dharma talk on one of the foundational teachings of Buddhism, such as The Four Noble Truths, The Eightfold Path, impermanence, no-self, Buddha-nature, the law of Karma etc., with time afterwards for questions and discussion.
These evenings are not drawing a distinction between "basic" Buddhism and "advanced" Buddhism, as the path of training is one of going ever deeper into the basics. These teachings are never left behind, but the idea of Basic Buddhism Evenings is to explore them in a way that is accessible to those who are perhaps meeting them for the first time.
It is a good idea to come to an introductory event before coming to a Basic Buddhism Evening. If you are unable to make one of these, however, you can come at 6.45pm for an introduction to the meditation practice before the evening starts. Please phone, email or text in advance if you would like to come at 6.45pm.
A typical schedule for a Basic Buddhism Evening is as follows:
Meditation 20 mins
Walking meditation 5 mins
Meditation 20 mins, ends 8.30pm
Tea and dharma talk / discussion about practice