The Mountains and Rivers Order of Zen Buddhism (MRO) is dedicated to practicing, realizing and embodying the Buddha’s wisdom as it has been transmitted mind to mind through the generations of Buddhist ancestors, beginning with Shakyamuni Buddha himself. The MRO offers practitioners an approach to spiritual training that is grounded in the recognition that all human beings have the capacity to awaken, while acknowledging that this journey requires guidance and support. The MRO includes two major practice centers, numerous affiliate groups, and various organizations dedicated to supporting sincere and vigorous spiritual practice. To enter into the MRO is to take up the dharma as a matter of profound personal importance and to be guided by the tradition, the teachers, and the sangha as one embarks on the path of self-realization.
Arising from the Buddha’s original teaching on the Eightfold Path, the Eight Gates of Zen form the core of training in the MRO. The Eight Gates draw on Zen’s rich tradition of practice across disciplines like archery, haiku, painting and tea ceremony. Accessible and relevant to the lives of modern practitioners, they challenge us to infuse every aspect of our lives with spiritual practice. The Eight Gates are zazen, direct study with a teacher, art practice, body practice, Buddhist study, liturgy, right action, and work practice—points of entry that offer ever-deepening ways of studying the self.
The MRO includes two distinct yet interrelated paths of training: lay practice and monasticism. Monastics dedicate the whole of their lives to practicing and realizing the dharma and serving the sangha. Lay students commit to awakening within their daily lives, in the midst of family, home and work. The unique feel of training in the MRO emerges in part from the rich commingling of these two paths, as men and women of all ages, from all walks of life, take up the teachings in accord with their individual sense of spiritual calling.