Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Empty Field Zendo (League City)

This is one in a series of "Profile" posts in which different local Buddhist groups and Temples will be described so that seekers will understand fully in advance what to expect should they decide to visit.

The Empty Field Zendo of League City Texas (not to be confused with the Oregon group of the same name) meets at the Unity Church of the Bay Area which is located near the intersection of League City Parkway and State Highway 3.
1911 Hwy.3 South, League City, Texas 77573
Screengrab from Googlemaps
Close up of the location which, interestingly, is only about fifteen hundred feet from the Diamond Way Clear Lake Buddhism building to the northwest on Dakota Street. 
Meditation meetings are currently held every Sunday evening from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at this location (check their website to confirm that this has not changed). 

As of this blog post, Empty Field Zendo had developed a highly organized and useful set of web pages to describe its structure and activities.
Partial screengrab of the homepage at
Minimalist, in authentic Zen style.
The homepage entry is dated January 2011, but I did check with the group and verified that the site information is still up-to-date as of June 2012.
The pages explain succinctly the organization and protocols for meditation meetings.  For this particular group, it is especially important to familiarize yourself in advance of what to expect, because meditation sessions are conducted in silence.  Thus, if a visitor does not have foreknowledge of the practices, there will be little obvious guidance upon arrival at a typical sitting.  To address this issue, a pre-registration procedure is articulated on the website:
A wealth of additional information is available on the Empty Field website, including Dharma talks and suggested readings.
Zen minimalism or not, the reading references page includes this uber-cool Amazon widget that I wish I had known about the other day when I published a list of potential "Buddhism 101" references

Note that they recommend a few volumes by Steve Hagen, whose "Buddhism Plain and Simple" was also one of my recommendations. 
The Empty Field Zendo is currently led by Sensei Ray Cicetti of Morristown New Jersey. 
Sensei Ray Cicetti.
Photo screengrabbed from Sweeping Zen (URL below)
Sensei Ray Cicetti doesn't have a separate Wiki page but is named as one of eleven Dharma successors on Jesuit Priest Robert Kennedy's page.  Cicetti is also profiled on Sweeping Zen, which is a Zen meta-website.  The Empty Bowl Zendo website can also be accessed for additional information on this teacher.

When I contacted this group to confirm the up-to-datedness of their website information, the representative noted that a retreat is scheduled in July 2012:
Screengrabbed from 

Moderator's Viewpoints.  As with all Temple and group profiles, an attempt is made to include mention of any relevant external accounts of the group and/or its leadership, although a thorough evaluation is beyond the scope of this blog post and beyond the expertise of this blogger.

As of the date of this blog post, the first several pages of Google search returns revealed that Ray Cicetti is affiliated with the Zen Peacemakers organization, and is also a psychotherapist in private practice in New Jersey.  He is also listed as a founding member of the Clear Mountain Zen Center in New Jersey. 

Additionally, as Moderator, I sometimes draw repeated emphasis to facets of particular groups that may be of particular importance for beginners to understand, and to that end, I offer the following observation. 

As suggested by the descriptions above, Empty Field Zendo's meditation sessions demand a greater degree of protocol precision and discipline than do those of some of the other local area sitting groups that have been profiled on this blog.  This degree of intensity is reflected in the schedule that they have developed for each session:
Screengrabbed from:
Beginners are advised to evaluate their own personal circumstances in order to determine whether they would be physically and psychologically ready to participate in three 25-minute sitting meditations in a single meeting (beginners often commence by engaging in about 20 minutes of practice per day, which is much less time). 

As always, if you have additional relevant information on this group, please comment below or email me at southhoustonsangha - at - gmail.  Thanks!

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