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Soji Zen Center

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Basic information
Address:
2325 Marshall Rd, Lansdowne, PA 19050, USA
Sectarian affiliation(s):
  • Zen
Cultural, linguistic, ethnic affiliation(s):
  • Caucasian
  • African American
Geographic Origins of Institution or Founder:
  • USA
Best time to visit:

See website.

Date last visited: April 10, 2016
Currently active?: As of the last time it was visited by our research team, this location was open.
Other Basic Information:

Zen temple with American Zen roots, connected with White Plum Lineage founded by Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi Roshi (Japan).

Local setting, neighborhood, demographics

Storefront location in neighborhood that is racially mixed, although Caucasian majority. The temple founder/leader is African American. Services are in English. The ratio of male to female is about 50/50. A lot of young people (many students from La Salle University) attend.

Connections with medicine, healing, wellness

Practitioners practice zazen meditation, chanting, prayer, prostrations, walking meditation, and loving kindness. The interviewee (a priest) states that all of these practices can be very beneficial for individuals suffering from anxiety and depression. They help practitioners become mindful of the present, and to become more aware of their mind and body.

According to the interviewee, zazen meditation is what best supports the practitioner’s health and wellness. Meditation allows for the cultivation of peace and stillness, which according to the interviewee promotes healing. Over time, practitioners become more patient and less reactive, which in turn lowers their stress level and has an overall positive effect on their health and wellbeing. Also, practitioners become more aware of their wellbeing and start to take better care of themselves, changing their lifestyle and following better diets.

Additionally, they chant the Heart Sūtra whenever someone in the temple community or a loved one is ill. After the chanting, the priest offers a healing service and all the practitioners ask that the person be healed. The interviewee claims that when all the practitioners in the sangha focus their attention on the ill person and direct their "energy and intention" to that person, it helps that person heal.

The interviewee talked about the interconnectedness between people, and emphasized that healing offered for someone else is also beneficial to one’s self. He also stated that recognizing emptiness and the sources of suffering is how people can come to a place where they can heal and help others heal mentally, physically, and spiritually. The temple also offers periodic workshops that deal with understanding stress, how stress can cause different illnesses, and how meditation offers relief.