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The tradition of focused periods of community practice originates from the time of Shakyamuni Buddha. A practice period is a time when practitioners intentionally join together to deepen and support each others’ practice of the Buddha way. In the Japanese Zen tradition these practice periods are residential monastic retreats known as ango (peaceful abiding). Shunryu Suzuki noted that American Zen practitioners have an engagement with practice that seems to be a hybrid of monastic and householder — neither monk nor layperson — fully devoted to the dharma.

In our modern urban practice context, our nonresidential practice commitment period is an opportunity to integrate and develop sustainable practice in our everyday lives and echoes the ancient Buddhist tradition of intentional community practice. Ancient Dragon Zen Gate’s community, our sangha, lives, works and practices as householders in an urban environment. It is vital to be responsive to our responsibilities and life situations and find a way to practice that nourishes our connections with our loved ones, our work situations and our bodies. To support the deepening of Buddhist practice in their householder context, participants in the practice commitment period (PCP) will design an individualized program including three key aspects of Zen training: meditation, study and community life. The theme of practice for this PCP will be the Bodhisattva Precepts as nourishment.

All practitioners with a wish to enact the practice commitment are welcome to register. Participants in the Spring 2011 practice commitment period are required to make a commitment to meditation, study, and community with a focus on the Bodhisattva Precepts. A commitment sheet will be available in early March for outlining your personal practice commitment for the six weeks of practice commitment period.

Meditation — A commitment to zazen

  1. A defined commitment to at least three days of weekly home sitting
  2. A defined commitment to at least one weekly sitting at ADZG
  3. Participation in at least one daylong sitting at ADZG: April 24, or May 13, 14, or 15

Study — Exploring and integrating the dharma

  1. A stated commitment to a focus on a chapter in the book Being Upright by Tenshin Reb Anderson with the study informing daily life
  2. Meeting three times individually (dokusan) with our Guiding Teacher Taigen Dan Leighton

Community — Sharing and supporting

  1. Participation in a practice discussion group
  2. Meet informally to discuss practice experiences with a “dharma companion”
  3. Volunteer at least three times in an ADZG sangha service activity (such as greeter, serving tea, etc.)