What is Zen?

Sitting still, letting your thoughts calm down, and become aware of your surroundings again. Direct experience.

From birth, we learn to see the world and our ‘self’ through a filter of thoughts, opinions and desires. We set goals that we ‘have to’ achieve and constantly focus on the future. More than often, however, reality turns out different than we thought and wanted it to be.

Zazen is sitting while conscious. Sitting with a straightened back, cross-legged, on a chair or a kneeler, you focus on your breath. It’s a simple exercise, but also quite difficult. We are used to be constantly busy with something… Everytime you lose your focus, you return to your breath.

Zen meditation teaches you to let go of thoughts, opinions and desires. You learn to see the world and your ‘self’ for what they really are. This gives you peace, and teaches you to enjoy the little things. You learn to see that nothing stays as it is, and that this is just fine!

Zen at KenKon

‘Be a little more zen’…

…has become an acceptable Dutch expression. In everyday and commercial language, zen stands for things like purity, balance, origin, etc. This kind of zen is something that concerns everyone, but what is it exactly, this ‘zen’ or ‘ch’an’ as it was originally called in China? The answer can be found in a legend from the life of Buddha.

A long time ago, when Buddha was going to give a speech on a mountain, he simply held up a flower. His followers waited with anticipation, but Buddha kept his mouth shut. Only the monk (Mahakashyapa) smiled. Then Buddha said: “I have the all-pervasive true dharma (teaching), the unforgettable nirvana, the excellent teaching of the shapeless shape. It does not depend on words and letters, and it is transmitted outside writings. I pass it on to Mahakashyapa now.”

Mysterious. What did he pass on? It was the first true zen-question, one that last a lifetime. Everyone holds a unique ‘flower’, find out what it is. Zen cannot be clearly defined, and Mahakasyapa understood this. Discovering this flower, and being able to express it, is something that calls for the involvement of mind and heart. Our exercise is called zazen, like a mountain. Zazen is a form of meditation, ‘sitting’ could be a better word, being relatable to everyone. On a pillow or a chair, it doesn’t matter, the silence will do the job. The weekly group-setting improves the exercise and motivates you. This can be done at KenKon, with Zen in Wageningen.

Introductory course

Wednesdays from 20:30 to 22:00

For those who aren’t familiar with zen meditation, or those who would like to start again, there are introductory courses. The course is taught by Marloes Harkema and Aart Oosterveld, and is taught on Wednesday evenings between 20:30 and 22:00.
You are taught how to have a good posture, and learn about some backgrounds and concentration techniques. By meditating a little longer every time, the introductory course will get you ready to participate in the regular group, if interested.

The introductory course of 10 classes will start againĀ September 2020 – More information or Register

Regular group

Wednesdays from 20:30 to 22:00

Every wednesday we meditate between 20:30 and 22:00 with the regular zen group (sangha) in our beautiful zendo. The group is guided by Olaf van Kooten. We meditate twice for 25 minutes, with 10 minutes of Kinhin (walking meditation) in between. We finish with a short meditative tea ceremony, a story by Olaf, and time for questions or a discussion.

More about Olaf van Kooten

Morning Zen

Mondays from 7:00 to 8:10

Every Monday morning, you can join the zen group in the zendo of KenKon. Between 7:00 (door opens at 6:50) and 8:10 we sit twice for 25 minutes, with 5 minutes of Kinhin in between. We finish with a Hart Sutra chant. No better way to start your morning!

Everybody is welcome, also non-KenKon members. In that case, we ask you for a donation in the donation box of KenKon.

Silent days

Four times a year we organise a silent day, on Sundays. The theme of the programme varies. We sit several periods of 25 minutes zazen with kinhin in between.

Coffee and tea will be taken care of, but you should bring your own lunch.