Spring Practice Period

Once a year in the spring,  we gather as a lay community for a period of intensive practice.  Our next practice period is in the Spring of 2020.

Sounds of Valley Streams, Forms of Mountains
April 5–May 31, 2020

Focused periods of community practice originated at the time of Shakyamuni Buddha. During these periods practitioners join together to deepen and support each other’s 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 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 body/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.

Participants will practice with a Dogen essay, “Sounds of the Valley Streams, Form of the Mountains,” inspired by a Chinese poem:

The sounds of valley streams are the universe’s long broad tongue.
The form of the mountains are the body of reality.
Last night I heard eighty-four thousand verses
Another day, how can I relay this to others?

The essay expresses the spiritual power of nature and also of faith and devotion.
This year’s PCP will be led by Guiding Teacher Taigen Dan Leighton, with the help of new teachers Nyozan Eric Shutt and Eishin Nancy Easton, who will share PCP leadership.

All practitioners are welcome to register. Participants in the PCP are required to make a commitment to meditation, study, and community.  A practice period commitment sheet outlining your practice commitment for the two months of the PCP is available here: PCP Commitment sheet-2020.  Personal commitments can include some flexibility or modification, in consultation with Taigen. Distant members may also participate.

To register, please speak to Taigen or e-mail (info@ancientdragon.org) by Monday, March 30, 2020. Suggested Donation: $125.00 (not including donations for one-day sittings/sesshin). Sliding scale is available to all.


Practice Commitment Period Outline

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 from those scheduled April 5, May 3, or May 29, 30, or 31.

Study—Exploring and integrating the Dharma
We will consider “Sound of the Valley Streams, Form of the Mountains,” and the teaching stories it contains about awakening and nature. It also includes the material we chant in the Eihei Koso Hotsuganmon about faith. These teachings will be highlighted as focal points for our practice.
– Students decide during the first few weeks to focus on one section of the essay, with the study informing daily life. Selections can be decided in consultation with Taigen, Nyozan, or Eishin.
– Translations will be available as handouts at ADZG for PCP participants.
– Meeting three times individually (dokusan) with Dharma Teachers Taigen, Nyozan, or Eishin.
– Participants are also encouraged to attend offerings by guest teachers Stephanie Kaza, April 18-20 and Steven Heine, May 4th (see website calendar for details).

Community–Sharing and supporting
Participation in Dharma discussion groups with PCP participants led by Taigen, Nyozan, and Eishin on three Sundays at ADZG. Dates: April 12, April 26, and May 17, 2020, from 1-3 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 16th, 1–3:30 pm; or our Crane Folding retreat Saturday May 9th, 9am- 3p (partial attendance welcome).

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