Zendo (禅堂, Chinese: Chántáng) is a Japanese term translating roughly as “meditation hall”. In Zen Buddhism, the zendo is a spiritual dojo where zazen (sitting meditation) is practiced. A full-sized Buddhist temple will typically be divided into at least one zendo as well as a hondo (本堂, literally “base hall”, sometimes translated as “Buddha hall”), which is used for ceremonial purposes, and a variety of other buildings with different functions. However, any place where people go to practice zen can be referred to as a zendo.
The following are recommendations on zendo etiquette taken from an , along with explanations of some Japanese terms. Etiquette varies in different temples, so the following rules may or may not apply in part or in full at any given zendo:
- Enter the zendo on the left side of the entry, left foot first.
- Gassho and bow to the altar.
- Walk forward across the room past the altar and go to a seat turning corners squarely (cross in front of the altar only during kinhin).
- Gassho and bow toward the seat, greeting the people to both sides.
- The people on both sides respond to greeting.
- Turn clockwise and face front.
- Gassho and bow to those directly across room, greeting them.
- They respond with a gassho-bow in greeting.
- Sit down on the zafu.
- Turn clockwise toward the wall. (If in a Soto style zendo, Rinzai style is to sit facing in from the wall.)
- Always turn or move clockwise as viewed from above the zendo.