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 April 2 – May 25, 2023.
2023 ADZG Nine-Week Spring Practice Commitment Period
Bodhisattva Teachings from the Vimalakirti Sutra
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, 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 PCP design individualized programs including three key aspects of Zen training: meditation, study, and community life. Participants will practice with selected chapters of the Vimalakirti Sutra.
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.
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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 (April 2, May 19, 20, or 21).
Study – Exploring and integrating the Dharma
We will consider selected chapters from the illuminating and colorful Vimalakirti Sutra, which describes the bodhisattvic practice of the great, highly awakened layman Vimalakirti, said to have been a contemporary of Shakyamuni. His example may be an inspiration to our non-residential lay sangha. Seven chapters from the sutra will be highlighted as focal points for our practice. See below for readings to be made available.
- Students may commit to selecting during the first few weeks one of the seven chapters to focus on, with the study informing daily life. Selections can be chosen in consultation with Taigen. Appropriate chapters will be available digitally for PCP participants.
- Meeting two times individually (Dokusan) with Dharma Teacher Taigen Leighton, or may include once with another ADZG Teacher.
Community – Sharing and Supporting
- Participation in Dharma discussion groups with Taigen: ONLINE: Sunday Afternoons, April 23, and May 7, 2023, 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 April 29, 1–3 pm. Sangha support options for Online participants to be explored.
Registration and Information
To register for the Practice Commitment Period, please speak to Taigen or e-mail email@example.com. Please register by Monday, March 27, 2023.
Suggested Donation: $125.00 for the Practice Commitment Period; $75 for each all-day sitting. Sliding scale is available to everyone for all events.
Readings available to PCP Participants
Vimalakīrti chapter from Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression, by Taigen Dan Leighton, pp. 241-294.
It is NOT Required that all PCP participants read all of the Following sutra chapters. You may select portions to read based on the Faces of Compassion reading.
From The Holy Teaching of Vimalakīrti, Robert Thurman translation:
- Chapter One: Purification of the Buddha Field
- A buddha’s creation of a buddha land or field, awakening their surrounding world.
- Chapter Two: Inconceivable Skill in Liberative Technique
- Vimalakirti’s Skillful means amid the mundane world to liberate beings
- Chapter Five: The Consolation of the Invalid
- Vimalakirti’s use of illness as an awakening teaching
- Chapter Six: The Inconceivable Liberation
- Vimalakirti’s teaching on the malleability of spatial dimensions within inconceivability.
- Includes instructions on who can hassle a bodhisattva.
- Chapter Seven: The Goddess
- Vimalakirti’s awakened goddess friend provides a dramatic demonstration of the foolishness of gender discrimination through a double transgender operation.
- Chapter Eight: The Family of the Tathāgathas
- The extremes of passions and worldly activities are the family of buddhas and the background of full awakening. Awakening does Not arise from realms of the ultimate and unconditioned.
- Chapter Nine: The Dharma Door of Nonduality
- Vimalakirti’s famed thunderous Silence as ultimate nonduality among nonduslities
- Glossaries of Sanskrit
- Numerical categories
- Technical terms
- Living Skillfully: Buddhist Philosophy of Life from the Vimalakirti Sutra, by Dale Wright (Oxford University Press, 2021). Dale Wright will be speaking during the ADZG Practice Period Sunday, April 16.
- Highly Recommended: “Non-Duality in the Vimalakirti Sutra and its current applicability” Oct. 2020 ADZG talk.