"Circumambulation" number 95 of 200 from Robert Aitken's book Miniatures of a Zen Master.

Circumambulation means to go around and around. In Zen we go around and around with mind. It is helpful to have a routine so that everyone on the zendo goes in the same direction and at roughly the same speed. For some, setting these ground rules in advance is a way to take away creativity and freedom. On the contrary, give up to the rules, showing up and watching what happens is the ultimate in creativity and freedom. We don't have to be bothered with mind wanting to go in a different direction or listen to it's complaining about the speed of kinhin. We have the freedom of the unbothered.

There are lots of little rules of the zendo. Each sitting group forms their own rules following rough guidelines handed down by the unbroken lineage of Zen Masters since the Buddha. (Crap alert!) Frankly, I don't care where the rules came from or what they are. Let's just be familiar with them and practice together in harmony. They are not magic and have no special meaning. That is their special meaning. The magic of non-magic.

These little rules or customs have the same affect on us as the schedule of a sesshin does. They give us the freedom to relax into our practice and to let our usual busy mind settle a bit. We can give up just a bit of our grasping mind, our wanting things to be our way, our need to control. We can allow ourselves just a little more slack and then a little more slack, endlessly. First we see how to do this in the safe supportive environment of the zendo, then we carry this with is to work, in relationships and into the broader world.

Any error or confusion created by my commentary on
Miniatures of a Zen Master
is solely a reflection of my own delusion and ignorance.
Any merit generated by this activity is solely the result of
Aitken Roshi's clear teaching and is dedicated to
all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas throughout space and time.