Ango Letter from the Training Office

Dear Sangha,

It’s time for our Fall 2020 Ango. First of all, we really miss all of you here at the Monastery. Still, it’s been remarkable to feel the ways that we are creating and maintaining our sangha connections despite the closure and distance.

On that note: Ango translates to “peaceful dwelling,” and between the global ramifications of COVID, the systemic racism and economic inequity here in the USA, and the unprecedented challenges of the upcoming election season, it’s pretty clear that we could all use a “peaceful dwelling” right about now. Given that we will be practicing this ango from our homes, how do we create a peaceful dwelling without taking a single step? This loving abode is created by our heart and mind, out of intention, commitment, and sincere practice. Please join the sangha for this Fall Ango and register online by September 1st.

The theme for this ango is “Bodhisattva.” A bodhisattva is someone who raises, practices and embodies bodhicitta, the aspiration to liberate all beings, including oneself. Roshi will be leading evening study sessions and a two-day Ango Intensive on the classic text “37 Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva”; Hojin Sensei will be leading weekly “In Touch with Bodhisattvas” art practice sessions; and Hogen Sensei and Hojin Sensei will each be leading study sessions on the Six Paramitas as another way to appreciate this theme. 

One of the bright aspects of doing so much online is that we are able to offer ango participants guided art and body practice sessions each week via Zoom, a really beautiful way to come together and support our peaceful dwelling. A big thank you to those sangha members who will be leading these sessions—what a great resource to tap into. You can find more details about the art and body sessions, as well as retreats and special events on the ango webpage.

Ango will open with a Sangha Meeting via Zoom on Friday, September 4th at 7:30 pm. We’ll hear more about the various offerings for the ango, as well as some other timely updates, and then go into break-out groups to discuss and clarify our intentions together. Please wait to complete and return your Ango Commitment Form until after the meeting (no later than Friday, September 11) so that you can really take in the different offerings and make commitments that feel right to you. I think it’s going to be an energizing and inspiring way to begin the training period, so please join us if you can. 

On Saturday, 9/5, from 8 am – 5 pm, we’ll be doing a Peaceful Dwelling Zazenkai here at the Monastery. You’re encouraged to commit to the whole day, or to join in as much as you can. Saturday night the teachers will offer a mondo on “Intention, Aspiration and Vow.” And Sunday, 9/6, we’ll do the traditional Ango Opening Ceremony via Zoom, so that we can see each other as we step across the threshold of this Fall 2020 Ango together.

Please save the weekend of October 9th-11th for our 40th Anniversary Celebration. Although a virtual celebration wasn’t exactly what we had in mind when we started talking about this over a year ago, there are advantages—the big one being that all of you should be able attend! On Saturday, 10/10, we’ll be having a Board of Governors meeting. Held every five years, it’s a chance for the sangha to come together and vision our future. That evening will culminate with a celebration. Stay tuned for details.

Ango is intended to challenge us. The heart of ango is the challenge of meeting our life from a place of selflessness, compassion, integrity and non-discriminating love. As peace activist Rev. William Sloane Coffin once put it, “The world is now too dangerous for anything but the truth, and too small for anything but love.” Buddhadharma is not provisional—the teachings don’t depend on different circumstances or better conditions in order to transform our lives. They depend on one thing: You. Me. Each one of us. The theme “Bodhisattva” is an invitation as well as a reminder. We already have the most brilliant treasure house we could possibly imagine: Buddha nature within our own body, heart, and mind. Do we understand our true power?

Yours in the dharma, 



Training Coordinator
Zen Mountain Monastery