AZC Fall 2020 Practice Period (Online) | Taking Refuge

What: Practice Period (Ango) is a traditional intensive Buddhist training period varying between six to twelve weeks in length, dating back to the summer rainy season retreats of Shakyamuni Buddha’s time.

Online at the Austin Zen Center
3014 Washington Square
Austin, TX 78705

Program Fees*:
$75 Members / $100 Non-members

* Please note that AZC is committed to making the teachings available to everyone. To request financial assistance from our Scholarship Fund, or if you would like to donate to the Fund for others to be able to participate, please contact Julie Strahan by email or call 512-452-5777.

ABOUT Practice Periods: (Jp. Ango , or “peaceful dwelling”) Practice Periods offer an excellent opportunity for beginners as well as more experienced Zen practitioners to join together to bring a collective spirit of warm-hearted mindfulness into daily life. Over this six-week period we will have the opportunity to renew and concentrate our efforts as well as to fully inquire into our way-seeking-mind. While there may be some minimum requirements, it is within these requirements that each person can create their own schedule. This is the nature of lay practice. Some may be able to do only the minimum, while others may be able to extend themselves much more.

When you include your zendo schedule into your calendar it incorporates zazen into the rhythm of your life as an intention and commitment rather than as a random or arbitrary activity based on passing fancy. When we gather our intention for a defined time period, taking into consideration all of the other factors and responsibilities in our life, we have a foundation for practice. It will be necessary to honor our commitments and to be realistic about how we create our schedule.

It is good to think of the spirit of practice period as the wish to fully participate in everything that is offered, and then to narrow it down to what is practical or possible, rather than simply picking and choosing pieces of it based on preference or convenience. This helps to create an edge; something to feel our way around, but not too much to be inhibiting. When we all have this attitude it creates a strong sangha feeling of mutual support and encouragement.

It is also important to manifest the spirit of zazen in our daily life at home and at work: as continuous practice, and not just something we do on the cushion. This provides a positive atmosphere for those who may be sitting but are not in a position to practice as intensively. What makes all the difference is our deep intention and commitment.

About PRACTICE PERIOD in the time of COVID:

This Fall 2020 Practice Period will be conducted online for all participants, and zoom links will be provided for all PP gatherings, classes, events, and retreats. As we enter autumn and the weather gets cooler, opportunities to practice outdoors together in-person yet socially-distanced. To this end we will be constructing an outdoor zendo in the side yard of AZC, and mosquito canopies and/or tents will be available (for communal use as well as for personal purchase).

Practice Period Guidelines, Fall 2020 – A Message from AZC Tanto, Choro Antonaccio

During practice period we gather as a sangha and together renew our commitment to our vows to practice for the benefit of others. This is a hallmark of our school: we do not sit for ourselves only, but for all beings, and our practice expresses the fundamental truth of reality – which is seamless – and calls forth our compassion.

A practice period during a pandemic is a unique opportunity to affirm our inseparability in the midst of what looks like separation, and to find an appropriate expression of our interconnection and interdependence. We will commit to practicing wholeheartedly, supported by the forms of practice, by meeting together for zazen, chanting, talks, and gatherings, for ceremonies and soji, right where we are, which will be mostly at home.

In that spirit we will ask everyone not only to commit to the schedule they devise but also to renew their devotion to the well being of all by strictly adhering to the guidelines about how to protect others from COVID. We anticipate offering outdoor zazen once a week and possible in-person events outside as weather permits. The guidelines when on temple grounds include not entering or using the main building; observing all protocols around hygiene; wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. In particular we will require that if you don’t feel well, if you suspect or learn that you have been exposed to COVID at work or elsewhere, and especially if you are waiting on test results even when asymptomatic, that you do *not* come to the temple for any purpose, including outdoor sitting when offered. Clearly observing what arises when we must remove ourselves from an activity or space is practice, and refraining from endangering others is practicing generosity.

Practice Period Events:

  • Practice Period orientation & opening ceremony – Wednesday, Oct. 21st 6:45-8:00pm ‡
  • Wednesday eve practice period gatherings (6:45-8:00pm) ‡
  • Saturday noon practice period gatherings (12:15-1:15pm) ‡
  • 5-week Taking Refuge class w/Rev. Mako Voelkel – Thursdays 6:45-8:00pm (Oct 22-Nov 19)
  • One-Day Retreat – Oct. 24
  • Weekend Retreat – Nov. 13 (eve) – Nov. 15
  • Rohatsu Sesshin – Dec. 1 (eve) – Dec. 6
  • Bodhisattva Full Moon Precept Ceremonies – Oct. 28, Nov. 18 ‡
  • Seijiki Ceremony – Oct. 30 ‡
  • Buddha’s Enlightenment Ceremony – Dec. 6th ‡
  • Jukai Precepts Ceremony TBD ‡

– included in Practice Period fees 

AZC Fall Practice Period: Visiting Teachers

While AZC Practice Leaders will be holding the retreats, practice period gatherings, classes & other events during this upcoming practice period, we are grateful for the opportunity (largely provided by the pandemic!) to invite a number of Visiting Teachers to give talks in our Online Zendo, all on the topic of Taking Refuge.

Fall Practice Period Schedule:
Oct 24One Day Retreat, led by Rev. Mako Voelkel
Oct 31Eijun Linda Ruth Cutts, Former Abbess of SFZC
Nov 7Josho Pat Phelan, Abbess of Chapel Hill Zen Center
Nov 14-15Weekend Retreat, co-led by Choro Antonaccio & Tim Kroll
Nov 21: Zoketsu Norman Fischer, Former SFZC Abbot and Founder of Everyday Zen
Nov 28: Kokyo Henkel, Former Head Teacher of Santa Cruz Zen Center
Dec 1-6Rohatsu Sesshin, led by AZC Practice Leadership

We are very fortunate to have such close relationships to so many amazing Zen teachers, and encourage our members, supporters, & guests to practice the Perfection of Generosity (Dana Paramita), which means supporting our teachers with generosity & abundance, according to your personal circumstances & means. Please consider making a donation (large or small) to each of the teachers listed above as they offer their wisdom and practice to AZC during our upcoming Practice Period.

If this is your first time participating in AZC retreats, please fill out our General Retreat Application HERE.