AZC Fall 2019 Practice Period | Training the Mind with Lojong

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.

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 call Julie Strahan at 512-452-5777.

We will be utilizing a variety of materials during this practice period, with a focus on Training in Compassion: Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong by Zoketsu Norman Fischer

Other Recommended Reading:

Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chodron

Eight Verses for Training the Mind, by Geshe Sonam Rinchen

Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness by Chogyam Trungpa

The Way of the Bodhisattva by Śāntideva 

Atisha teaching Lojong

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 the eight-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.

Practice Period Events:

  • Practice Period orientation & opening ceremony – Wednesday, Oct. 9th 6:45-8:00pm ‡
  • Wednesday eve practice period gatherings (6:45-8:00pm) ‡
  • Saturday noon practice period gatherings (12-1pm) ‡
  • 7-week Lojong class w/Rev. Mako Voelkel – Thursdays 6:45-8:00pm (Oct 31-Dec 5)
  • One-Day Retreat – Oct. 12
  • Weekend Retreat – Nov. 8-10
  • Rohatsu Sesshin – Dec. 7-14
  • Bodhisattva Full Moon Precept Ceremonies – Oct. 16, Nov. 13 ‡
  • Seijiki Ceremony – Oct. 30 ‡
  • Buddha’s Enlightenment Ceremony – Dec. 7th ‡
  • Jukai Precepts Ceremony Dec. 6th ‡

– included in Practice Period fees