Chan/Zen Buddhism and the CPB
Chan Buddhism focuses on the method of sitting meditation as a primary way to understand the Four Ennobling Truths and the Eightfold Path as taught by the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. According to legend, the emphasis on sitting was brought to China by the Indian monk Bodhidharma. While in China, Chan Buddhism emerged as a distinct approach characterized by a synthesis between Indian Buddhism and Chinese Daoism. After hundreds of years of development in China, Chan was transferred to Japan most notably by the Japanese philosopher-monk Dogen in the form of Soto Zen.
Today at the Center for Pragmatic Buddhism, we utilize the methods of Chan and Zen, along with American Pragmatism in a manner that takes the needs of the Western mind into consideration, one that appreciates personal and cultural background. As Westerners, Americans have specific needs in developing a meaningful Buddhist practice. Just like every phase of Buddhism's evolution, a new form arises to meet the needs of its new sociocultural environment. The measure of our success at CPB is found in the people who comprise us and our effectiveness in helping others. Though we stem from a wonderful lineage of teachers, it is our contemporary reach that empowers and defines our practice at the Center for Pragmatic Buddhism.
Though time and refinement are required to establish a distinctly American form of Buddhism, the Center for Pragmatic Buddhism is actively engaged in this process, and has adopted a weekly practice schedule that speaks directly to our contemporary situation in the United States. Following our formal meditation practice, CPB teachers give dharma talks, and then we engage in group discussion, a means of applying our practice to current issues. During this open forum, members and guests ask and discuss various questions pertaining to everyday life and how issues or problems might be addressed from a Buddhist perspective. CPB teachers offer Pragmatic Buddhist teachings and perspectives, aiming to guide and empower the questioner while engaging the entire group. This "Ask-A-Monk" format was devised by Jim Eubanks' dharma teacher, the late Ryugen Fisher (Shi Shen Long). Time during group discussion is devoted to our group Buddhist education, where CPB teachers discuss important topics in Buddhist studies.