Empty Mountain Sangha is a community of individuals joined by the shared value of living a mindful and compassionate life. Established by Poep Sa (Dharma Teacher) Frank Jude Boccio in 2009, the community is an independent, unaffiliated, nonsectarian sangha exploring an approach to zen buddhism that is firmly rooted in a naturalistic, scientific, rational and empirical understanding Poep Sa Frank Jude has termed zen naturalism.
Zen Naturalism is a non-dual form of practice and understanding that rejects dependence on the ‘supernatural’ and, as a path of inquiry, emphasizes the spirit of non-attachment from dogmatic fundamentalist views through the practice of meditation as well as through the techniques of science and the scientific method, embodying the spirit of appropriate and skillful means.
Zen Naturalism does not accept the systematic, and often hierarchical, polemical arrangements of the Buddhist teachings proposed or endorsed by any school of Buddhism. Zen Naturalism sees itself as a ‘new’ form of Buddhism reflective of a contemporary, understanding of the world, the cosmos and life itself. It recognizes that it too will change as new understandings replace old understandings. Keeping the “Don’t Know Mind” is essential in keeping this open-ended inquiry from solidifying into a rigid, dogmatic creed of beliefs. This spirit of inquiry, this spirit of commitment to all forms of action that can sustain questioning, insight, and compassion, is considered to be more important that any Buddhist institution or tradition.
Zen Naturalism is, and can be considered as, a kind of ‘secular religion;’ a form or method of yoga (disciplined action and inquiry) as its aim is freedom and the awakening life. As a naturalistic-based practice, freedom is understood not supernaturally or transcendentally, but as the progressive liberation from our conditioned reactivity and false identifications. It is not the world-wary attempt to leave the world altogether that is found in early traditional Buddhism. But also, as a contemporary movement, and one that does not reject the world, it is a ‘communal religion’ that celebrates life in community and society. As such, it calls for active engagement to better life and the world for all beings. Rituals of celebration are designed to create meaningful relations among the various beings and experiences of the world.
In any event, Zen Naturalism does not need to seek meaning and validity in any transcendent realm. Zen Naturalism leaves most metaphysical questions open, including whether there is anything truly existent that is ‘metaphysical.’
While rooted in certain forms of traditional zen practice, it is this naturalist perspective that is our guiding orientation. If this sounds like something you might be interested in, please feel free to contact us.
The Empty Mountain Sangha also offers an even more informal approach to practice for those with little or no interest in more traditional forms of practice (no matter how naturalistically they might be interpreted). The Tucson Mindfulness Practice Community is an open, consensus-driven community of people interested in studying, practicing and cultivating mindfulness throughout their daily lives.
While based primarily upon the buddha’s teachings on mindfulness, there is no pressure to identify as “buddhist.” We are a community of diverse people sharing the common desire to be more awake throughout our lives, within all our relations and throughout all our daily activities.