Practice Periods (Jp. Ango, or “peaceful dwelling”) 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 four and a half-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.
During this Spring practice period we will have a mini Genzo-e offered by visiting teacher Kokyo Henkel, an Introduction to Zen Class with Mako Voelkel, our Spring Fair commemorating Buddha’s Birthday, Way-Seeking Mind talks, and intensive practice opportunities as well as sangha gatherings.
More details to follow soon!