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First time in a Chan temple... do I have the wrong idea?
So after about a year of practicing meditation and trying to uphold the 4/8/5, I decided to hit up the local, well-established Mahayana (I'm pretty sure it's Chan/Pure Land) temple. I attended the English Dharma session (a majority of the sangha consists of Chinese-speaking practitioners) which consisted of seated and walking meditation, then sutra reading.
I wasn't sure what to expect, but I felt like the whole session was very impersonal and procedural. What I mean by impersonal is that when the monk that was leading the session spoke to the group, he hardly even looked at us, and often fidgeted and checked the clock as if he wanted to get the whole thing over with. Also, there was supposed to be a question period at the end after the stura reading, but with 5 mins left in the session, he just left the room without a word... I had no idea what was happening and the others (who appeared to be regulars) didn't follow him or anything, so I just assumed we were supposed to leave.
I enjoyed the sitting and walking meditation (as much as one can enjoy sitting and walking in silence), but the sutra reading and abrupt ending of the session (or what I assumed was the ending) felt very ritualistic for the sake of ritual, not to garner any sort of deeper understanding or appreciation for the teachings.
Then again, I didn't go to a session that had a dharma talk (which they usually have on another day when I am not available), which could be a reason it wasn't as "engaging?"
I realize that I probably (foolishly) expected that a dharma practice meeting would be inviting and engage/support one's desire to practice. But am I wrong to assume that that is the point of a sangha?
Or is Chan (and I guess by association, Zen) generally easy to dismiss as "procedural" and "impersonal" since it's up to oneself to meditate, not the sangha to stimulate one intellectually? That's not what I get from watching youtube videos of the Empty Gate Zen center though. Then again, that's a Western-style Seon Buddhist centre, not one created for and by the Chinese Buddhist diaspora.
I'd appreciate any thoughts on my little rant.