Last Update - April 23, 2018

Jiki Help    -    ZendoWest


Jiki Instructions for Tuesday Evening Sit

General guidelines

It is the job of the jiki to make the sitting situation for people as smooth and as quiet and as clear as possible. You provide minimal instructions and signals that lead the sit, so that people know what to do, and what to do next, and you do so by causing the least amount of mental activity and distraction for participants as possible.

Most sits are pretty predictable and straight forward, but when a situation arises that calls for some kind of decision and action, the jiki looks after anyting that needs to be done, using his/her judgement, allowing for the smooth and least disruptive continuation of the sit.

It is best to behave and act in ways that are quiet, calm, and predictable. The less noticable you are, the better.

Regarding timing, you don't need to be exact, although there are a few guidelines I like to observe:

1. Start the first sit at exactly 5:30

2. Do not keep people beyond 7:30

3. Don't feel governed by the timer. It can just be used to help you stay on track. You may overrule the timer.

4. Try to allow at least a full 5 minutes of standing and walking during each kinhin. Resist the temptation to cut kinhin short in order to maintain the 25-minute sitting periods. The sitting periods can be shortened (or lengthened) to accomodate the clock and the time, although avoid allowing a sit to go for longer than 25 minutes. Keep in mind that we are meditating and maintaining our practice over the whole 2 hour period, while sitting, standing, listening to teisho, attending dokusan, serving as jiki, and walking in kinhin.

5. On occasion, a teisho (or Stan's reading) will be longer or shorter than the typical 25 minutes alloted for the 2nd sit, and you may need to adjust the sitting periods accordingly, given the guidelines above (i.e.; never sit longer than 25 minutes, never have kinhin shorter than 5 minutes, and always end by 7:30).

The following provides Step-By-Step Instructions for a Typical Tuesday Evening Sit. There are lots of little details and it seems very complicated, but when you get right down to it, if you have been sitting with the group for a while, it should all seem very familiar to you. It just seems complicated when it comes out as a description and explaination. What seems very difficult at first gets easier and easier, the more you do it. Here are some things to consider, that may make being jiki easier:

Working through the jiki duty can be taken on as a meditation practice. You are offering yourself up in complete service to those sitting in the sangha, so they can sit as deeply as possible.

Those sitting, and who are not jiki, will be trying to focus on their practice and will not be paying too much attention to what you are doing.

A note on ringing the gong at the start of a sit.... in the chart below, I say: "Strike Bowl Gong 3 times, with an unhurried interval between each strike (This is up to you. I use an interval of about 2 breaths)." It is hard to explain how the length of interval is determined, and for everyone it is different. For me, it is like I am not striking the bell, but it strikes me, at a time that is not determined by me. It's like I'm waiting to be struck, and then it strikes. Thich Nhat Hanh calls the striking stick the 'inviter' and that instead of striking the gong, you 'invite' it to ring.

If you make a mistake, or do something that feels wrong, or you forget to do something, do not let it trouble you - others will help get things back on track, or will help remind you of what to do, and will not feel anything but gratitude that you are serving us in this way.

If you have any comments or suggestions regarding this guide and these instructions, please let me know.

Thank you for being jiki. I will be nearby to help, as needed.

Stan

 

Step-By-Step Instructions for a Typical Tuesday Evening Sit
Item Action Description Details
1 Check that everything is prepared and ready for the Evening Sitting Period - Things for the Jiki to do before 5:25 pm:
- Make sure you know/find out what activities are scheduled for the evening: teisho, dokusan, stan reading, early end for tea, etc...
- Make sure you have out and set-up everything the jiki needs (clappers, bowl gong & striker, timer, inkin bell, prayer sheets, guide sheets etc...)
- Make sure zendo is prepared (cushions, screens, prayers under cushions, etc...)
- Make sure alter is prepared (candle, lighter, picture of Roshi, flowers, etc...)
- Make sure dokusan room is prepared; lights, chairs, foot cushion for Nenates, dokusan bell, etc.... (Dokusan room set-up will change from time to time. Nenates may wish to use a chair, with a cushion for under her feet, as the chair is too high for her.)
- Light candle on alter
- Arm timer for 25 minutes - make sure it is working...
2 Prepare to begin Evening Sitting Period - Be at cushion at 5:25
- Stand at cushion, hands together, holding mu
- If any announcement needs to be made before the 1st sit, (see item 4A), do this just before 5:30.
- Start the first sit at exactly 5:30.
- go to 5
3 Make announcement, signal, or directive for what comes next - People are standing at their cushion waiting for the jiki to direct them to the next activity. The jiki directive or announcement can be any of the following:
- No announcement, start the sit (go to 5)
- Announcements to be made before starting 1st sit (go to 4A)
- Announce teisho (go to 4B),
- Announce dokusan (go to 4C)
4A Announcements before starting 1st sit - There may be an announcement appropriate for the day, such as;
"Today there will be no dokusan and no teisho. It will be a silent sit tonight." and/or
"Today we are being asked to sit for such-and-such person."
- Then begin the sit
- go to 5
4B Announce teisho - Say: "Please sit facing forward for teisho."
- go to 9
4C Announce dokusan - Say: "Please pull out your tab if you wish to go to dokusan."
- go to 5
5 Beginning a sitting period - Gassho and bow. When jiki, I like to do this in a slightly exhagerated way, and not too suddenly or quickly, so it can be seen easily from most sitting positions, allowing the whole group to gassho as one. This is the signal for all to sit
- Start Timer (25 minutes). Do this as you lower yourself to sit, before the clapper and gong.
- Jiki sits facing inward, away from wall
- Others sit facing wall
- Wait until everyone has settled (no one is moving or rustling) and then strike the Wooden Clappers
- Wait about 5 seconds or longer, until any final settling of sitters is over (no one is moving or rustling)
- Strike Bowl Gong 3 times, with an unhurried interval between each strike (This is up to you. I use an interval of about 2 breaths)
- go to 6
6 During a sitting period - Sit quietly and attend to anything that needs attention
- If there is dokusan, make sure there is always someone in the dokusan room with Nenates. You may have to tap people. Typically the dokusan order is determined by going around the room clockwise, either starting with the jiki, or ending with the jiki.
- Nenates may give the jiki specific instructions for who she wants to see, and the order in which she wants to see them.
- At end of a sit, go to 7, unless it is time to End the Evening Sitting Period, then go to 12.
7 Ending a sitting period (Not the same as Ending the Evening Sitting Period - 12) - Strike Bowl Gong twice with a short interval between strikes (about 1 full second - not as long as the interval between gong strikes at the start of a sitting period)
- Stand holding Wooden Clappers ready to start kinhin
- go to 8
8 Kinhin - Wait for everyone to stand and are ready for kinhin. Then...
- Strike Wooden Clappers once
- Turn to your left and begin walking slowly clock-wise around the room leading kinhin
- check your watch for the time
- as the 5 minute-mark of kinhin approaches, decide where the best place is to be when you strike the Wooden Clappers to end kinhin. Usually (but not always) this is when you are at the opposite corner of the zendo from where you sit.
- strike the Wooden Clappers to end kinhin
- proceed at a brisk pace to your cushion
- everyone stands at their cushion, facing inward towards centre
- wait for everyone to arrive and stand waiting at their cushions
- go to 3
9 Beginning Teisho - Gassho and bow. When jiki, I like to do this in a slightly exhagerated way, and not too suddenly or quickly, so it can be seen easily from most sitting positions, allowing the whole group to gassho as one. This is the signal for all to sit
- Timer is not used during teisho. The teisho is over when it's over.
- Everyone sits facing inward, away from wall, but the jiki does not sit right away.
- Before the jiki sits, assist Nenates move her cushion into position in front of the alter.
- Adjust lighting if Nenates needs more light.
- Make sure Nenates has everything she needs (glass of water?)
- Make sure everyone is comfortable and ready for teisho
- Take your time - once everything is ready for teisho, sit yourself down
- Pull out your prayer sheet and have it ready to recite from
- Wait until everyone has settled and has their prayer sheet at hand.
- Strike Bowl Gong 3 times, with brief interval between each strike, as if to prepare for an announcement.
- Stop the 3rd strike and read-out the title of the prayer before teisho: "Words For Arousing The Vow"
- Strike the gong and begin to lead the reading of the prayer before teisho.
-It is very important that you lead the reading. This means that it will be your voice that is heard first at the start of every line being recited. This also means that you pay attention to the group recitation and speed-up or slow-down, as necessary, to assist the reading to be as from once voice, as much as possible.
- Once the prayer is finished, Nenates will give her teisho
- go to 10
10 During Teisho - Sit quietly, listen, and attend to anything that needs attention or doing.
- When Nenates ends her teisho, gassho with her.
- go to 11
11 Ending Teisho - Pull out your prayer sheet and have it ready to recite from
- Wait until everyone has their prayer sheet at hand and is ready to recite.
- Strike Bowl Gong 3 times, with brief interval between each strike, as if to prepare for an announcement.
- Stop the 3rd strike and read-out the title of the prayer after teisho: "Hakuin Zenji’s Song of Zazen"
- Strike the gong and begin to lead the reading of the prayer after teisho.
-It is very important that you lead the reading. This means that it will be your voice that is heard first at the start of every line being recited. This also means that you pay attention to the group recitation and speed-up or slow-down, as necessary, to assist the reading to be as from once voice, as much as possible.
- At the end of the prayer, put away your prayer sheet and stand. This is the signal for others to stand.
- If others do not stand on their own, you might say: "Please stand and prepare for kinhin."
- Assist Nenates return her cushion to her sitting place.
- Return the zendo and cushions to prepare for sitting, if necessary.
- go to 8
12 Ending of the Evening Sitting Period This process is outlined with images on a separate sheet titled: Gong Sequence at End of Final Sit - it might be useful to pull this sheet out as a guide to follow.
- Strike Bowl Gong three times with a short interval between strikes (almost 1 full second), more quickly that at the start of the sit, as if making an announcement.
- Stop the third Gong-strike and say:
"And now let us recite the 4 great aspirations."

- Strike the Bowl Gong once and say:
"Creations are innumerable, I vow to free them all."
- Strike the Bowl Gong once and say:
"Delusions are inexhaustible, I resolve to extinguish them all."
- Strike the Bowl Gong once and say:
"The aspects of truth are countless, I resolve to learn and master them all."

- Strike the Inkin Bell once and say:
"The way of enlightenment is peerless."
- Strike the Inkin Bell once and say:
"I resolve to accomplish it."
- Strike the Inkin Bell seven times (keeping the same interval between bell strikes as the previous two intervals), as a signal for everyone, including you, to rise and prepare for deep bows.
- Once standing, turn slightly to face the altar. While directing yourself toward the alter, you must also be able to see, or turn your head to see the others as they do the deep bows. Try to be aware of the others so that you do not signal the start of one deep bow before everyone has been able to rise-up from the previous deep bow. Do not position yourself in front of the alter.
- Use the Inkin Bell to strike an 'Infinity Sequence,' which can be described as bell strikes that have a diminishment in interval and volume, similar to a ball bouncing to a gradual stop.
- Pause a brief moment. This prepares us for the first deep bow.
- Strink the Inkin Bell once, as a signal for everyone to do the first deep bow towards the alter.
- When you see everyone has risen from the deep bow, strike the Inkin Bell once, as a signal for everyone to do the second deep bow towards the alter.
- When you see everyone has risen from the deep bow, strike the Inkin Bell twice, as a signal for everyone to do the third (and last) deep bow towards the alter.
- When you see everyone has risen from the deep bow, strike the Inkin Bell once, as a signal for everyone to do a regular bow (not deep) towards the alter.
- Move back to your cushion, facing the middle of the room and when you see everyone else has returned to their place, strike the Inkin Bell once, as a signal for everyone to do a regular bow (not deep) towards the middle of the room.
- Thank people for attending.
- Make any announcements, as necessary (i.e.; Remind people about the zazenkai coming up, and ask those who have not done so already to please let Nenates know if you are coming to the zazenkai or not.)
- Gassho and bow to End the Evening Sitting Period