OUR ANGO SITTING NETCAST CAN BE VIEWED HERE (on Ustream)
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE ABOVE LINK WAS BROKEN YESTERDAY, BUT IS NOW WORKING
It is not too late to join in!
Master Dogen wrote "What is attentively maintained by all practicing buddhas, and what is thoroughly mastered by practicing buddhas is like this .... Although the everyday activities of practicing buddhas invariably allow buddhas to practice, practicing buddhas allow everyday activities to practice. This is to abandon your body for dharma, to abandon dharma for your body. This is to give up holding back your life, to hold on fully to your life".
Even buddhas practice buddha, and they do so as and amid everyday activities. Those events of daily life are the place of practice, and are just one's life. In everyday activities, the Teachings can be both learned and put into practice. Allowing life to be fully life.
Such will be the theme of this Ango ... practice in the homes, offices, factories, with the people and situations with whom we find our self in our everyday activities.
In keeping with the philosophy and path of practice here at Treeleaf ("life is our temple"), we will seek to obtain many of the same ... (and, I believe, quite a few additional and very special) ... fruits and lessons of a traditional Ango while sitting within the "monastery" of our day-to-day lives, jobs, problems, unending distractions and family responsibilities.
In doing so, I believe, we will have the opportunity to taste the sweetness (and sometime bitterness ... no one without the other) of concentrated Zen practice ...
The most important point to keep in mind is that those work duties at the office, daily problems and family responsibilities ARE THE PRACTICE PLACE as much as the Zafu (sitting cushion). The home kitchen is the temple kitchen, the office, store or factory is the garden when we practice Samu (work practice), etc. Each presents countless opportunities for practice, and for manifesting Wisdom and Compassion.
The purpose is not to overwhelm; it is to mutually work together through a period of dedicated practice. We will do our best each and every day, and let Zazen soak into our life. But key to that is consistency, not giving up, finding the time and not quitting.
I propose that Ango participants should commit (as best they can, given the circumstance of their lives) to as many of the following as possible. In all cases, the emphasis will be on increasing ... not raw quantity ... but the sincerity, commitment, vigor and seriousness of what we undertake:
- Add a minimum of 5 minutes per sitting to however long one's current sitting time, and commit to sit that time - at least daily - without missing a single day. As well, for those who can and whose schedule will realistically allow ... consider adding an additional full sitting period per day to however many times per day one is now sitting Zazen. Whatever your commitment, be realistic about what you can maintain ... and then (absent sheer impossibility) stick with it, without missing a single day
- Join in each and every 1-hour Saturday Treeleaf Zazenkai, and 4-hour monthly Treeleaf Zazenkai
- Listen, as possible, to each short (usually 5 minutes or so) 'Sit-a-Long' Talk (to be presented by Jundo and Taigu on this Treeleaf "Beliefnet" Blog) during the practice period, also all available in recorded form to meet your schedule. A special series of talks will be presented during the Ango period (we shall use Dogen's "Instructions for the Cook" Tenzokyokun, as well as other subjects. Necessary materials will be provided).
- Join frequently in online discussions in our Forum (LINK) of the content and Ango experiences, sharing the ups and downs and middles.
- If technically possible, commit to meet with Jundo or Taigu by Skype video at least once per month during the Ango.
- If simultaneously studying for Jukai, complete and participate in each of the readings and discussions each week regarding the individual Precepts, as well as complete Rakusu sewing.
- Make formal study on the meaning and philosophy of Samu (work practice, the central theme of Dogen's "Instructions for the Cook"), and apply such perspectives and attitudes in your family and work duties each day.
- Commit to give up one or two items or passions one truly loves during the Practice period, for example, sweets after meals, luxurious meals, cigarettes, television, consumer purchases of luxury items.
- Commit to mindful eating, and silently or orally recite one short meal chant (to be provided) before all meals.
- Commit a portion of your weekly income during the period to extra charitable donations (assuming you have the financial ability). I do not accept any "Dana" financial contributions for Treeleaf, as we now have sufficient resources for what we are doing. However, I do encourage people to make financial donations to charities that help folks, e.g., feeding the poor, finding a cure for a disease. Both donations and Samu work should be a bit beyond the point where it starts to hurt. If you have the time, consider extra volunteer activities in your community as well.
- Commit to sit our SPECIAL 2-DAY ROHATSU RETREAT (to be held online, currently scheduled for netcast the weekend of December 5 & 6) at the culmination of the Ango. Again, it would be good to participate "live", but all will be available in recorded form to fit schedules. The retreat will likely be similar to last year's schedule and content (LINK HERE):
And so, we support each other.