Over the past couple of weeks, thirteen practitioners have sat tangaryo, 15 straight hours of zazen with just short breaks for meals. They do this so they can become full-fledged residents of the temple.
But surely their initial application to live here, and their months in residence, prove they are worthy and reliable tenants and an asset to the neighborhood. Since all 13 were already living in the building, why in the world would they need to do a zazen-athon to become what they already are?
Because filling out an application and having a room isn’t the core practice of Buddhism. Tangaryo isn’t a test of the practitioners – no one watches them to make sure they’re sitting all day and not whipping out their iPhones as soon as the Ino leaves the zendo. Tangaryo is a request – a silent, still, centered request – to become a resident not of a building but of a temple, in the only manner that fully embodies (literally) the core practice of any Buddhist temple anywhere: zazen. Tangaryo is a re-enactment of the exact posture that a prince took thousands of years ago, with astonishing results. The tangaryo sitters probably didn’t expect that outcome, nor were they looking for an address.
They just wanted to come home to their heart.