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Thread: Uposatha practice at Treeleaf?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Sekishi's Avatar
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    Uposatha practice at Treeleaf?

    Before settling in to the Soto tradition here at Treeleaf, I used to set aside a Uposatha / Upavasatha day on the weekend of the full moon. Uposatha practice takes a number of different forms in different countries and traditions, but the basic idea is that it is a day (a few times a month) to deepen and renew dedication to practice. For myself, it meant once a month, observing a day of silence, long sittings in the morning, work-practice during the day, and long sittings in the evening.

    I always found it to be beautiful (observing noble silence while moving through the world is particularly touching), and feel drawn to renew it in my own life. After attending the retreat this month, I promised myself I would take it up again.

    1. Is there anything analogous in our tradition? I am most familiar with the Theravada practices (laypeople taking precepts for the day, monks reviewing the Vinaya, etc.), but I understand that similar practices exist in some Mahayana traditions. Are there any analogous practices in the Soto way?

    2. Regardless of historical precedent, is there any interest from others in the Sangha in practising some form of "mini-retreat" on a monthly basis? The obvious choice is to try to make it coincide with the monthly Zazenkai (perhaps either beginning or ending with the Zazenkai). I do not think it would have to be anything too elaborate or "organized". Examples could include simply a commitment to try to sit a little more, to try to connect with fellow Sangha members (sit in one or more hang-outs on G+ for example), observe a day of silence if personal circumstances allow, treat work for the day as samu, and check in with the precepts.

    I would like to pick this practice up again, and would be delighted to join with others if interested.

    Any feedback from the Sangha, our teachers, or Unsui would be most appreciated.

    Gassho,
    Sekishi

    髭 Sekishi / Eric

  2. #2
    Hi Sekishi,

    First, a little more information on what you mean.

    The Uposatha (Sanskrit: Upavasatha) is Buddhist day of observance, in existence from the Buddha's time (500 BCE), and still being kept today in Buddhist countries. The Buddha taught that the Uposatha day is for "the cleansing of the defiled mind," resulting in inner calm and joy. On this day, lay disciples and monks intensify their practice, deepen their knowledge and express communal commitment through millennia-old acts of lay-monastic reciprocity. On these days, the lay followers make a conscious effort to keep the Five Precepts or sometimes the 8-precepts. It is a day for practicing the Buddha's teachings and meditation. ... In Mahayana countries that use the Chinese calendar, the Uposatha days are observed six times a month, on the 8th, 14th, 15th, 23rd and final two days of each lunar month. ... For example, on those days lay followers would abstain from all sexual conduct and not merely sexual misconduct.

    http://www.chinabuddhismencyclopedia...title=Uposatha
    http://books.google.co.jp/books?id=s...%20zen&f=false
    I would say that this is not so common among Western Zen groups for their lay members (and I have not seen much emphasis in Japan), BUT that the days of longer or "all day" Zazenkai participation in Japan and the West are meant to have this same role of a bit of intensive Practice. So, yes, I would invite everyone to sit our monthly Zazenkai "live" (or with the "any time" recorded version), and also to combine that with some or all of the added Practice you mention such as treating work for the day as Samu.

    On the other hand, well, we should ideally treat about any day so!

    Our upcoming Ango 90 Day "Special Practice" Season is also such a time, and I will provide information on that this week.

    I will leave the question of undertaking celibacy for that time to each of you, but avoiding "sexual misconduct" is the vow in our Way.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Senior Member Sekishi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    On the other hand, well, we should ideally treat about any day so!
    Of course! But it is also my experience that with a little periodic renewed practice, actualizing the way in each moment of each day comes just a little more naturally.

    Thank you Jundo.

    Gassho,
    Sekishi

    髭 Sekishi / Eric

  4. #4
    Senior Member Sekishi's Avatar
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    Uposatha practice at Treeleaf?

    I hope this isn't too presumptuous, but how does the following sound as a rough idea?

    - Try out a "mini-retreat day" on the day of / day after (depending on your timezone) each of the long Zazenkai of Ango, and see if it has enough momentum to continue after Ango. If so, wonderful, if not, wonderful too.

    - Much like the various Google+ sittings we have now, loosely organize around timezone and send out invitations (to those who would like to be invited) for three hangouts on the retreat-day, say 4 hours apart (for simplicity in scheduling).

    - One half-hour Zazen the morning (for example, 9:00AM EST so folks EST - PST can sit together).

    - One half-hourish Oryki in the late morning to early afternoon (1:00PM EST). Maybe one of the folks who have done Oryoki can talk through the ceremony a little to help folks who have not done it.

    - One half-hour Zazen in the late afternoon to early evening. (5:00PM EST).

    - Optionally, one hangout somewhere during the day for silent sewing or other stationary samu.

    What happens the rest of the day, is up to the participant. Some may practice silence, samu and additional sitting, some may not.

    Anyhow, just an idea.

    Gassho,
    Sekishi
    Last edited by Sekishi; 08-28-2014 at 04:11 AM.

    髭 Sekishi / Eric

  5. #5
    Hi Sekishi,

    It sounds like a lovely suggestion. How about we keep this activity rather informal for now, see how it goes? If folks are interested in participating, they can post in this thread or PM you. Then, you can organize this privately as a group here ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/group.php

    Go for it! Times of more intensive Practice can only be a good thing! (Sometimes, we need to practice a bit more intensively all to realize the attaining of nothing to attain, the polishing of nothing to polish). Please report to me on how it does go, so we can see if the experiment works.

    I will also be announcing our 90 day Ango in a few days, and hope that all our members will join into that. That will be a time of more intensive Practice for all!

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    Hi.

    Sekishi, i too have been practicing this sort of having a "special day" each month dedicated to deepening, and renewing, the practice, usually the last sunday each month, depending on circumstances.
    Even though each day should be treated this way, it is good to sometimes have an extra reminder of what we are doing, in much the same way as a squeaky floorboard or a loose floortile, and i look forward to an continuation on this.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen
    Treeleaf Unsui
    Blog: http://fugenblog.blogspot.com/

  7. #7
    Hi Sekishi,

    I think this is a great idea. I regularly observe the uposatha when circumstances permit so I'm all in. Do you want to start an informal group so we keep tabs on the dates?

    Gassho,

    Mike
    To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
    -Dhp. 183
    My Practice Blog

  8. #8
    Senior Member Sekishi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Sekishi,
    It sounds like a lovely suggestion. How about we keep this activity rather informal for now, see how it goes? If folks are interested in participating, they can post in this thread or PM you. Then, you can organize this privately as a group here ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/group.php
    Thank you Jundo. I was definitely thinking about this as an informal affair.

    I will work with Seimyo or Kyonin to create a group (I don't have permission to create one).

    Deep bows,
    Sekishi

    髭 Sekishi / Eric

  9. #9
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    My first thought was, There are three months of that during Ango! but it is a worthy idea. Couldn't hurt.

    Gassho
    迎 Geika

  10. #10
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Sounds like a wonderful idea, Sekishi!! I too have had thoughts lately of how to deepen my practice. Thanks for posting and please keep us updated on any plans you may have.

    Gassho,
    Joyo

  11. #11
    Senior Member Sekishi's Avatar
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    Seimyo has kindly set up a group for us to discuss this idea further. Those of you who showed interest should have an invitation to join the group waiting as a PM. Anyone else who would like to join, please go to:
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/group.php

    And click the "+ Join" button to join us.

    Gassho,
    Sekishi

    髭 Sekishi / Eric

  12. #12
    Before settling in to the Soto tradition here at Treeleaf, I used to set aside a Uposatha / Upavasatha day on the weekend of the full moon
    This is wonderful, Sekishi. In the Tibetan traditions we used to do this twice a month, at new and full moons. The practice was to rise at dawn to reaffirm the precepts, only have one meal that day and set aside more time for practice. Any sexual activity was prohibited. It originated as time when lay people could live as monastics for a day.

    Likewise, I have let this go since joining Treeleaf and think it would be a good thing to engage with again.

    Thank you for your practice


    Kokuu
    Last edited by Kokuu; 09-01-2014 at 08:34 PM.

  13. #13
    Hi Sekishi,

    I do something like this at the full/new moons, did not know about Uposatha. Thanks for bringing it up!

    Gassho
    Lisa

  14. #14
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    I have joined.

    Gassho
    迎 Geika

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    This is wonderful, Sekishi. In the Tibetan traditions we used to do this twice a month, at new and full moons. The practice was to rise at dawn to reaffirm the precepts, only have one meal that day and set aside more time for practice. Any sexual activity was prohibited. It originated as time when lay people could live as monastics for a day.

    Likewise, I have let this go since joining Treeleaf and think it would be a good thing to engage with again.

    Thank you for your practice


    Kokuu
    Hi,

    Some Soto Zen Sangha in the West undertake a "Japanized" interpretation of this called "Ryaku Fusatsu". You can read more here. I have not done so at Treeleaf, and have kept with a recital of the "Verse of Atonement" at each Zazenkai. However, it is a lovely ceremony. If you do something like this, it would be nice to undertake along our Soto Way. It is basically an abbreviated version of the Jukai Ceremony ...

    At Nebraska Zen Center / Heartland Temple, we perform an ancient chanting and bowing ceremony called Ryaku Fusatsu (Jap.) once a month. We also refer to this ceremony as our Precept Ceremony, for in it we re-affirm our commitments to live according to the Sixteen Bodhisattva Precepts, our Ethical Guidelines for everyday life. I'd like to explain what this ceremony is and how we perform it here.

    Ryaku Fusatsu is indeed ancient. Its roots go back to Pre-Buddhist India, to ancient Vedic lunar sacrifices performed on the nights of the new and full moon. By Shakyamuni Buddha's time 2600 years ago, these sacrifices were no longer performed, but the new and full moon occurrences were still observed by Hindus as holy days of purification and fasting, days when the Gods came to dwell in the house. They became known as Upavastha(from the Sanskrit upa, near and vas, dwell).

    Legend has it that Shakyamuni Buddha's followers also gathered on those days, perhaps because they didn't want to be left out. They would sit down and meditate together. Later, lay disciples –
    in whose homes the monks and nuns would sometimes gather – wanted some teaching, so the monks began to recite the 227 rules of the Patimokkha discipline, the rules governing everyday conduct for monks and nuns (257 for nuns). This recitation developed into a confession and repentance ceremony, during which the monks and nuns would speak up if they had violated any of the rules and vow to do better in the future.

    This ceremony is still performed today, at the same time and in the ancient way, by Theravadin monks and is called Uposatha in the Pali language, a variation of the old Upavastha, the, "near-dwelling" of the Gods on the ancient Hindu holy days. In Mahayana Buddhism, the spirit of the ceremony is preserved, but the 227 rules are not recited, because Mahayana sects have abandoned them. Instead of the confession being made to other monks, it is made directly to Buddha.

    The ceremony was transmitted, with lots of changes and developments, from India through China to Japan and now has been transmitted to America as Ryaku Fusatsu, as it is known in Soto Zen Buddhism.

    MORE HERE:

    http://www.prairiewindzen.org/ryaku_fusatsu.html
    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  16. #16
    Rev. Jundo,

    That is wonderful! I think it would be great if we took up the practice of ryaku fusatsu.
    To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
    -Dhp. 183
    My Practice Blog

  17. #17
    Senior Member Sekishi's Avatar
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    Thank you Jundo, this is wonderful!

    Deep bows,
    Sekishi

    髭 Sekishi / Eric

  18. #18
    The wording of the Precepts in Nebraska is a little different than the wording we typically use here for Jukai and such ... but the words are just words.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  19. #19
    This is lovely, Jundo. Thank you. Do you think we could develop a Treeleaf version of the ceremony using our wording?

    Gassho
    Kokuu

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    This is lovely, Jundo. Thank you. Do you think we could develop a Treeleaf version of the ceremony using our wording?

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    I do not feel that we will do this ceremony on a large scale, as I am for less is more in ceremony. In my view, every day is the "new moon" and we silently recite the Precepts in our heart, and every moment of Zazen is the "full moon" where there is not a Precept to break.

    However, if your circle would like to recite and Practice so, you have my full and boundless support! Please develop a "Treeleaf version" for us.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-02-2014 at 08:05 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  21. #21
    However, if your circle would like to recite and Practice so, you have my full and boundless support! Please develop a "Treeleaf version" for us.
    Jundo

    I would very much like to do that, with the input and support of Sekishi and everyone else in the circle. Could you please email a copy of the Jukai ceremony (or link to where it is here) and I can adapt the wording used there?

    Gassho
    Kokuu

  22. #22
    Here is a rough first draft based on liturgy from the Treeleaf Jukai ceremony if anyone would like to make suggestions/comments. I wasn't sure whether or not to include The Heart Sutra.

    Gassho
    Kokuu

    RYAKU FUSATSU
    full moon precepts ceremony


    On The Precepts
    The Great Precepts of Gautama Buddha were kept by all Buddhas; they were transmitted from Buddha to Buddha, and they were received by Ancestor after Ancestor. Our great Master, Gautama Buddha, transmitted the Precepts to Master Maha-kasyapa; Master Maha-kasyapa transmitted the Precepts to Master Ananda, and the Transmission of the Precepts has continued in this way, passing from orthodox successor to orthodox successor in one line.
    Now, we/I reaffirm our/my commitment to the Precepts to return the profound benevolence of Gautama Buddha. We/I trust this to be the true reception of Gautama Buddha's wisdom and life. Respectfully following the approval of Gautama Buddha, we/I would like to devote ourselves/myself to the Precepts and confess.

    Verse of Atonement
    All harmful words, thoughts and acts ever committed by me since of old
    On account of beginingless greed, anger and ignorance
    Born of my body mouth and mind
    Now I atone for them all.

    Four Vows (x3)
    To save all sentient beings, though beings numberless
    To transform all delusions, though delusions inexhaustible
    To perceive Reality, though Reality is boundless
    To attain the Enlightened Way, a Way non-attainable

    The Three Refuges
    Respectful devotion to Buddha, Respectful devotion to Dharma, Respectful devotion to Sangha.
    Devotion to Buddha, the Supreme One; Devotion to Dharma, the Supreme Purity & Teaching; Devotion to Sangha, the Supreme Community.
    Perfect devotion to Buddha, Perfect devotion to Dharma, Perfect devotion to Sangha.

    The Three Pure Precepts
    Today I reaffirm my commitment
    To seek as I can, in this body and life, to avoid doing harm
    To seek as I can, in this body and life, to live in a healthful and helping way, doing good
    To seek as I can, in this body and life, to live for the benefit of all sentient beings.

    The Ten Fundamental Precepts
    Today I reaffirm my commitment
    I. To seek as I can, in this body and life, to refrain from the killing of life
    II. To seek as I can, in this body and life, to live in generosity and refrain from taking that which is not given
    III. To seek as I can, in this body and life, to refrain from misusing sexuality and all desire
    IV. To seek as I can, in this body and life, to refrain from false and malicious speech
    V. To seek as I can, in this body and life, to refrain from intoxication in its many forms
    VI. To seek as I can, in this body and life, to refrain from unconstructively criticizing the errors and faults of others
    VII. To seek as I can, in this body and life, to refrain from praising oneself and judging others
    VIII. To seek as I can, in this body and life, to refrain from stinginess in bestowing the Buddhist Teachings and all precious things
    IX. To seek as I can, in this body and life, to refrain from all anger
    X. To seek as I can, in this body and life, to refrain from disparaging the Three Treasure, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha

    Dedication

    Buddha Nature pervades the whole universe, Reality, existing right here - now:

    In reaffirming our/my commitments to the precepts we/I dedicate our/my sincere efforts to:
    • Shakyamuni Buddha Honored One; the Historical Buddha and Teacher …
    • To the all-pervading and everlasting Three Treasures:
    • To all Arhats and Bodhisattvas-Mahasattvas and their relations throughout the dharma worlds

    May our/my sincere vows to accomplish and live the Enlightened way be realized together.

    All Buddhas throughout space and time
    All Bodhisattvas-Mahasattvas
    Maha • Prajna • Paramita

  23. #23
    Senior Member Sekishi's Avatar
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    Amazing. Thank you Kokuu!

    Gassho,
    Sekishi

    髭 Sekishi / Eric

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Sekishi View Post
    Amazing. Thank you Kokuu!

    Gassho,
    Sekishi
    I agree Kokuu ... Wonderful stuff. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  25. #25
    Kokuu,

    Well done!

    Gassho,

    Mike
    To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
    -Dhp. 183
    My Practice Blog

  26. #26
    Thank you, folks, but the words were already there. I just cut and pasted.

    Gassho
    Kokuu

  27. #27
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    I"m joining too.

    Gassho,
    Joyo

  28. #28
    Senior Member Sekishi's Avatar
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    See the instructions I posted earlier to join the new group. Just a few notes about the "group" system:
    1. Posts need to be under 1000 characters (so SOME of us need to talk less - Sekishi).
    2. Posts in the group do not appear in the "New Posts" list (you actually need to go to the group to see them).
    3. Groups are not accessible in apps such as Tapatalk (at least not that I found).

    Do please join in and help us decide on when we will practice, and what the particular format will be.

    Gassho,
    Sekishi

    髭 Sekishi / Eric

  29. #29
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Yes, thanks, Kokuu. This is worth copying into my chantbook.

    Gassho
    迎 Geika

  30. #30
    Senior Member Nengyo's Avatar
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    I guess I'll join this group. Seems like an appropriate practice for Ango.
    Try not to be a jerk-- one of the Buddhas

  31. #31
    Im' in.
    Thank you all, Sekishi Kokuu et all.
    This is a vital and powerful practice.
    In gassho.
    "Know that the practice of zazen is the complete path of buddha-dharma and nothing can be compared to it....it is not the practice of one or two buddhas but all the buddha ancestors practice this way."
    Dogen zenji in Bendowa






  32. #32
    So, have decided on the days?
    To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
    -Dhp. 183
    My Practice Blog

  33. #33
    Senior Member Sekishi's Avatar
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    Hi Mike,

    I've tried to move the discussion and decision making process to the Uposatha group, but so far discussion has not really taken off. I think part of the reason is that you have to explicitly subscribe to group discussions to get notified of updates (so I'm not sure folks who joined the group even know there are open questions there).

    Anyone interested in the Uposatha practice, do check out the group. Basically, we need to decide on when we will observe (full moon, day of 4-hour zazenkai, etc.), and what particularly we will do (morning zazen and robe verse, oryoki, Ryaku Fusatsu, etc.).

    Gassho,
    Sekishi

    髭 Sekishi / Eric

  34. #34
    Senior Member Sekishi's Avatar
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    Hi everyone,

    Jundo recommended that I set up a page on Google Plus to coordinate our Uposatha practice, so I have done so at:
    [link removed on September 30, 2014]

    This group is now at:
    https://plus.google.com/communities/...83392272355874

    I am thinking that we will use the Google Plus page mostly to announce local-timezone hangouts and coordinate on the actual Uposatha days, while the Treeleaf group will be used to work on the nitty gritty details: http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/group.php?groupid=8

    Gassho,
    Sekishi
    Last edited by Sekishi; 09-30-2014 at 04:22 PM. Reason: Removed link to old group, updated with new link.

    髭 Sekishi / Eric

  35. #35
    Senior Member Sekishi's Avatar
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    Hi everyone,

    Just a little update. I've moved our Google Plus group from a "page" to a private "community" (pages are one-to-many, communities are many-to-many). Everyone who joined the "page" should received an invite to the new community.

    To join us, click the link below and then click "ask to join" (it is a private group):
    https://plus.google.com/communities/...83392272355874

    Gassho,
    Sekishi

    髭 Sekishi / Eric

  36. #36
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Thank you, Sekishi,

    I joined.

    Gassho
    迎 Geika

  37. #37
    Excellent Sekishi ... got the invite, accepted, connected, good to go. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

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