2016 ADZG Eight Week Spring Practice Commitment Period

The Dharma Flower: Practicing Bodhisattva Way via the Lotus Sutra

April 10 - June 6, 2016

Ancient Dragon Zen Gate dragon logo

Focused periods of community practice originated at the time of Shakyamuni Buddha. During these periods practitioners join together to deepen and support each others practice of the Buddha way. In Japanese Zen these practice periods are residential monastic retreats known as ango (peaceful abiding). In modern American context, our non-residential practice commitment period is an opportunity to integrate and develop sustainable practice in our everyday lives and echo the ancient Buddhist tradition of intentional community practice. Ancient Dragon Zen Gate's community or Sangha lives, works, and practices as householders in an urban environment, enacting our responsibilities to nourish our connections with our loved ones, work situations, and our own bodies and minds. To support deepening practice, participants in the practice commitment period (PCP) design individualized programs including three key aspects of Zen training: meditation, study, and community life. The practice theme for this PCP will be engaging Bodhisattva flowering through the Lotus Sutra. For this year's ADZG Practice Commitment Period the Head Student will be Douglas Floyd, who will share PCP leadership with Guiding Teacher Taigen Dan Leighton.

All practitioners are welcome to register. Participants in the practice commitment period are required to make a commitment to meditation, study, and community. A commitment sheet is available for outlining your practice commitment for the eight weeks of practice commitment period. Personal commitments can include some flexibility or modification, in consultation with Taigen. Distant members may also participate.

Meditation -- A commitment to zazen

  • A commitment to four days of weekly home sitting (or at least six days/week including ADZG)
  • A defined commitment to at least two weekly sittings at ADZG, including Hyde Park
  • Participation in three all-day sittings (April 10, May 8, or June 3, 4, or 5)

Study -- Exploring and integrating the Dharma

We will consider four provocative, primary stories from the Lotus Sutra, the most important East Asian scripture. These stories from chapters 2, 11, 14, and 15 present primary orientations for bodhisattva engagement. We will use these stories as touchstones for our practice.

  • Students commit to deciding during the first month on one of the four stories from the Lotus Sutra to focus on, with the study informing daily life. Stories can be selected in consultation with Taigen. See brief descriptions of stories. The texts will be available at ADZG for PCP participants.
  • Meeting three times individually (Dokusan) with Dharma Teacher Taigen Leighton

Community -- Sharing and Supporting

  • Participation in Dharma discussion groups with PCP participants led by PCP Head Student Douglas Floyd on three Sundays at ADZG: April 24, May 15, & May 22, 2016, from 1-3:00 pm
  • Meet informally to discuss practice experiences with a PCP Dharma companion.
  • Volunteer in an ADZG sangha service activity (such as greeter, serving tea, etc.) to be arranged in consultation with Taigen and other temple leaders. This may include our Sangha Spring Cleaning Day, Saturday May 21, 1?3:30 pm; also a Sangha outreach event at Lakeview Pantry, Sat. April 30.

All PCP people are invited to the Head Student Questioning Ceremony, Monday, June 6, the evening after the 3-day sesshin.

Registration and information: Please speak to Taigen or e-mail [email protected]. Please register by Monday, April 4, 2016.

Suggested Donation: $100.00 (Not including sign-up for one-day sittings/sesshin). Sliding scale is available to all.

PCP texts: Lotus Sutra chapters 2, 11, 14, and 15 Texts available for PCP participants from The Lotus Sutra translation by Gene Reeves.

The point of studying these stories is not to learn about a particular scripture, memorize obscure teachings, or focus on literary textuality, but to encourage and support your active practice.

Chapter 2: Skillful Means
Features the teaching of Skillful Means used to help the varied particular beings enter into the path of Awakening. Various different teachings are all part of the One Great Buddha-Vehicle. The one great cause for buddhas to appear in the world is to help beings enter the way to buddhas' insight.

Chapter 11: The Sight of the Treasure Stupa
A relic of the ancient mummified Buddha Abundant Treasures appears as he always does whenever and wherever the Lotus Sutra is preached, and hovers in mid-air. Thereby the self-referential, mystical aspect of the Dharma flower teaching is highlighted. Emanation bodies of Shakyamuni Buddha appear to introduce the two buddhas sitting together in the stupa.

Chapter 15: Springing Up from the Earth
In response to Shakyamuni Buddha's previous plea for someone to come and keep alive the teaching in the future evil age, bodhisattvas from different world systems offer to return. But Buddha declares this as unnecessary, as innumerable great bodhisattvas spring forth from the empty space in the ground, ever available to express the teaching and help beings, highlighting the awakening capacity of the earth itself.

Chapter 16: The Lifetime of the Tathagata
After questioning about the underground bodhisattvas and who trained them, Shakyamuni Buddha reveals that his imminent passing away is only a skillful means and his actual lifespan is inconceivably long. He has had an unimaginably long life, and will last twice that long into the future. This perspective illuminates the time-frame and luminous view of temporality of bodhisattva activity.

During some PCP talks Taigen will also refer sometimes to his book, Visions of Awakening Space and Time: Dogen and the Lotus Sutra, which will be available, completely optional, to interested PCP participants at author's discount cost.