TWO YEARS AGO we invited our readers to participate in “Commit to Sit,” a 28-day meditation challenge in print and online, developed with the support and guidance of Vipassana meditation teachers Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein. Although we were hopeful, we couldn’t have expected the enthusiastic response we got. Readers across the country—newcomers and seasoned practitioners alike—joined us for what proved to be a fruitful and well-attended virtual retreat. The online forum filled with questions, so we asked Sharon to join us to respond to our meditators’ queries. The online conversations among our readers continued long after our fourweek challenge had passed.
“Commit to Sit” proved so popular that reviews editor Joan Duncan Oliver put together a carefully selected collection of meditation practices in the form of a book by the same name. Commit to Sit, due out in March, includes practical guidance for meditation practices from the pages of Tricycle. Featuring a foreword by the much beloved American-born teacher and bestselling author Pema Chödrön, the collection represents a broad range of traditions—so watch for it at your local bookstore!
In this issue we’re at it again but we’ve switched tracks—or rather, traditions. Conceived by editor-atlarge Andrew Cooper, “The Big Sit: Tricycle’s 90-Day Zen Meditation Challenge” is guided by Pat Enkyo O’Hara Roshi, abbot of New York City’s Village Zendo. This challenge not only includes a daily meditation commitment but also a complementary study program focusing on a classic text by Master Dogen, founder of the Japanese Soto Zen school of Buddhism. Enkyo Roshi, after the earlier example of Sharon Salzberg, will be answering challenge participants’ questions online at tricycle.com.
While the style of this practice period reflects the Soto Zen tradition of Dogen, we encourage the participation of practitioners of any and all schools and lineages. In that spirit, we’ve invited teachers from a variety of Zen traditions to join us online, where they will field questions and provide teaching materials and guidance, including podcasts, videos, and written talks.
A virtual community of practitioners is one thing, but there is nothing like sitting at your local meditation hall. For that reason we provide a list of centers around the country and will encourage you—if you haven’t already done so—to visit your nearest practice center for the benefits of a teacher and the fellowship of a community of practitioners.
As we put this section together, two themes have emerged as especially important. One is consistency as a key element in Zen practice. As Enkyo Roshi writes, “What is important is consistency. To keep your practice consistent, remember what the famous Nike ad says, ‘Just do it.’” The other is the wholeness of Zen practice, comprising meditation, study, conduct, and community. We at Tricycle have been working to put together the ingredients that will provide the instruction and support for 90 days of just this sort of wholehearted practice. It’s truly an experiment. Now we all have the chance to work together to make it a successful one.
So join us—the Tricycle staff will begin the 90-day challenge on February 23, but you can begin whenever you like.
James Shaheen, Editor & Publisher