No video today, but an ANNOUNCEMENT of our upcoming, “fully online” 100 day ‘ANGO’ … as well as Precepts study and Rakusu sewing in preparation for our next ‘JUKAI’ (Undertaking the Precepts Ceremony,
scheduled for January 2010) … both resources we wish to make
available through Treeleaf Sangha to those in the Zen Community who (due to living in remote
areas, health issues, or childcare and family needs) cannot participate
easily in such events … So,
commencing from AUGUST 29th 2009 …
… AND CULMINATING WITH OUR SPECIAL 2-DAY ‘AT HOME’ ROHATSU RETREAT (currently scheduled for the weekend of December 5 & 6, via live netcast), our Treeleaf Sangha will hold our first traditional (yet “fully online”) …
————————— ‘ANGO‘ (100 Day Special Practice Season) ————————–
I hope you will consider to participate.
(One may wish to ‘just sit’ just ANGO, or may combine participating in ANGO with undertaking preparations for JUKAI
… including Precepts Study and an online Rakusu sewing circle, also
all online … which we will be beginning about the same time at
Treeleaf … details of our Jukai at this LINK)
What is “ANGO“?
literally “peaceful dwelling”, is a period of concentrated and
committed Zen practice, usually lasting three-months in the Soto Zen
tradition. The roots of Ango arise from the earliest days of the
Buddhist monastic community in India, when monks and nuns would cease
their wandering and settle together in one place for the rainy season.
Even today in Zen monasteries of Japan, Ango is a time of intense and
rigorous training, typically including long hours of Zazen, short hours
for sleep, formal meals taken in the Zendo (meditation hall), and a
structured schedule for the rest of the day comprising periods for
work, liturgy, study, rest, and personal needs. In the West, most Zen
groups have adapted the form of the three-month practice period to the
needs and demands of life in their communities.
In keeping with
the philosophy and path of practice here at Treeleaf (“life is our
temple”), we will seek to obtain many of the same … (and, I believe,
quite a few additional and very special)
… fruits and lessons of a traditional Ango while sitting within the
“monastery” of our day-to-day lives, jobs, problems, unending
distractions and family responsibilities.
In doing so, I believe, we will have the opportunity to taste the sweetness (and sometime bitterness … no one without the other) of concentrated Zen practice … and learn lessons … in many ways more
poignant, practical, immediate and powerful than what might be known to
monks locked away in a sheltered mountain monastery. As always, we will
be tasting the power of this practice in the world, in daily life …
and not hidden away from it all.
Zen Sangha around the
world have experimented in recent years with various forms of Ango for
people who cannot (or do not wish to) isolate themselves from the world
for weeks on end, often commuting to practice and with limited time. We
will build our Ango learning from their precedents and experiences. As
well, there have been a handful of attempts recently at a fully
“online” Ango … including Tricycle Magazine’s “Big Sit” of this year
… and our Treeleaf Ango will build upon both the successes, and
hurdles, of those efforts.
Now, I believe that “intensity” of practice can best be attained … not by increasing the raw quantity, bodily discomfort or physical isolation of practice … but primarily and powerfully by bringing new sincerity, commitment, vigor and seriousness into what we may already do (non-do).
each person’s life situation, family and work responsibilities vary, I
will be happy to consult with folks to adjust and design a practice
schedule and content to fit those circumstances. However, the most
important point to keep in mind is that those work duties at the
office, daily problems and family responsibilities ARE THE PRACTICE PLACE as much as the Zafu (sitting cushion). The home kitchen is the temple kitchen, the office, store or factory is the garden when we practice Samu (work practice), etc. Each presents countless opportunities for practice, and for manifesting Wisdom and Compassion.
can be flexible in designing one’s schedule, and flexible in meeting
the changing demands of each day … but commitment to “stick with
this” is required. One might change the order of things, even push
certain practices back a few days … but one must also not let things slide,
and must somehow promptly find the time to accomplish all that one has
committed to do. There is flexibility and moderation … but not
laxity. The purpose is not to overwhelm or “burn us out”; it is to
mutually work together through a period of dedicated practice. We will
do our best each and every day, and let Zazen soak into our life. But key to that is consistency, not giving up, finding the time and not quitting.
Now, this “First All-Online Treeleaf Ango”
(as so many things about Treeleaf) is an experiment … so many of the
following elements may be adjusted as we go along (even in the coming
days, as Sangha members provide input). However, I believe that Ango
participants should commit to all or most of the following. In all
cases, the emphasis will be on increasing … not raw quantity … but
the sincerity, commitment, vigor and seriousness of what we undertake:
+ Add a minimum of 5 minutes per sitting to however long one’s current sitting time, and commit to sit that time – at least daily – without missing a single day. As well, for those who can and whose schedule will realistically allow …
consider adding an additional full sitting period per day to however
many times per day one is now sitting Zazen. Whatever your commitment,
be realistic about what you can maintain … and then (absent sheer
impossibility) stick with it, without missing a single day
+ Join in each and every 1-hour Saturday Treeleaf Zazenkai, and 4-hour monthly Treeleaf Zazenkai
video netcast without fail. However, as always, each will be available
in recorded form (so may be joined at a time to fit your schedule). All
will be available, together with netcast daily sittings, on our
BELIEFNET.COM blog …
+ Listen, as possible, to each short (usually 5 minutes or so) ‘Sit-a-Long’ Talk
(to be presented by Jundo and Taigu on the Treeleaf “Beliefnet” blog)
during the practice period, also all available in recorded form to meet
your schedule. A special series of talks will be presented during the
Ango period (on a theme still being determined. I am thinking right now
that we shall use Dogen’s “Instructions for the Cook” Tenzokyoku, although it is subject to change. Necessary materials will be provided).
+ Join frequently in online discussions in our Forum of the content and Ango experiences, sharing the ups and downs and middles.
+ If technically possible, commit to meet with Jundo or Taigu by Skype video at least once per month during the Ango.
+ If simultaneously studying for Jukai, complete and participate in each of the readings and discussions each week regarding the individual Precepts, as well as complete Rakusu sewing.
+ Make formal study on the meaning and philosophy of Samu (work practice, the central theme of Dogen’s “Instructions for the Cook”), and apply such perspectives and attitudes in your family and work duties each day.
+ Commit to give up one or two items or passions one truly loves during the Practice period, for example, sweets after meals, luxurious meals, cigarettes, television, consumer purchases of luxury items.
+ Commit to mindful eating, and silently or orally recite one short meal chant (to be provided) before all meals.
+ Commit a portion of your weekly income during the period to extra charitable donations (assuming you have the financial ability). I
do not accept any “Dana” financial contributions for Treeleaf, as we
now have sufficient resources for what we are doing. However, I do
encourage people to make financial donations to charities that help
folks, e.g., feeding the poor, finding a cure for a disease. Both
donations and Samu work should be a bit beyond the point where it
starts to hurt. If you have the time, consider extra volunteer activities in your community as well.
+ Commit to sit our SPECIAL 2-DAY ‘AT HOME’ ROHATSU RETREAT
(to be held online, currently scheduled for netcast the weekend of
December 5 & 6) at the culmination of the Ango. Again, it would be
good to participate “live”, but all will be available in recorded form
to fit schedules. The retreat will likely be similar to last year’s
schedule and content:
The way to go about registering for this Ango is to post your commitment here in this Forum or at Treeleaf.
In the traditional manner, once your commitment is received, your name
is entered on a list of ango participants which, at the start of the
Ango period, is inscribed on a ‘paper scroll’ and posted at Treeleaf
Zendo in Japan.
All in all, I do not believe that the above
demands will unreasonably add to the amount of time people are already
dedicating to their Jukai and Rakusu sewing work, or to their existing
practices. I believe, if examined closely, the time is manageable. Again,
I am flexible to work out a schedule for those with special needs …
commitment and consistency being the most important.
I hope you will join us in this endeavor to manifest Great Non-Doing.
How wonderful it will be if you join the Treeleaf community in this
commitment to intensive practice for a time, together finding our self
where we find ourself!