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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 March 24 – May 19, 2024.


2024 ADZG Eight-Week Spring Practice Commitment Period

Hongzhi Cultivating the Empty Field
In person-or online participation welcome

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 (PCP) is an opportunity to integrate and develop sustainable practice in our everyday lives in intentional community practice. In our post-pandemic, non-residential situation, all are welcome to join in-person or online, or in some combination.  Ancient Dragon Zen Gate’s community or Sangha lives, works, and practices as householders in an urban environment, nourishing our connections with our loved ones, work situations, and our own bodies and minds. To support deepening practice, participants in the PCP design individualized programs including three key aspects of Zen training: meditation, study, and community life. Participants will practice with the teachings of Zen Master Hongzhi.

This year’s Practice Commitment Period will be led by 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 will be available by early March for outlining your practice commitment for the eight weeks of the PCP.

Personal commitments can include some flexibility or modification, in consultation with Taigen. Distant members may also participate, and online practitioners are welcome.  

vimalakirti debating manjushri

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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 [in person or online].
  • Participation in two all-day sittings (March 24, May 17, 18, or 19).

Study – Exploring and integrating the Dharma

We will explore the illuminating, evocative practice instructions from the Chinese Soto master Hongzhi (1091-1157) from the book Cultivating the Empty Field: The Silent Illumination of Zen Master Hongzhi, translated with introduction by Taigen. Hongzhi was the primary Soto teacher in China in the century before Japanese Soto founder Dogen, and strongly influenced Dogen. Hongzhi’s nature metaphors and poetic expression present the inner workings of Zen practice. 

  • Students commit during the first few weeks to select 2 or 3 of the practice instructions or a practice theme to focus on, with study informing daily life. Selections can be chosen in consultation with Taigen. Hongzhi’s Practice instructions will be available digitally for PCP participants.
  • Meeting two times individually (Dokusan) with Dharma Teacher Taigen Leighton, or you may include once with another ADZG Teacher (Hogetsu, Eishin, Douglas, or Nyozan).

Community – Sharing and Supporting

  • Participation in Dharma discussion groups with Taigen:  ONLINE: Sunday Afternoons, April 21, and May 4, 2024, from 1:30 to 3:30 pm CST.
  • 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 [date TBA in April], 1–3 pm. Sangha support options for Online participants to be explored.

Registration and Information

Registration for the Practice Commitment Period involves three steps:

  • First, to register for the Practice Commitment Period, fill out the form below. Please register by Monday, March 18, 2024. Suggested Donation: $125.00 (NOT including $75/day suggested donations for all-day sittings/sesshin).  
  • Second, please register for the all-day sittings you wish to attend on their respective calendar links on the website. Click the links below to register for each sesshin you wish to attend.
    March 24
    May 17, 18, and/or 19 (there is one form where you can register for any one, two, or three days)
  • Third, please fill out the commitment sheet found by clicking the button below, and email the returned form to info@ancientdragon.org.