As the pandemic continues to cause disruption in our lives and the news from Afghanistan weighs on our minds, I notice my habits of worry and future conjecture and am reminded of how vital it is to return to the essential practice of taking care of what is right in front of me. Practice can only happen in the present—the Dharma either comes alive here and now, or it doesn’t. Fall Ango is around the corner. Let’s appreciate our good fortune of encountering the Three Treasures and commit to intensifying our practice in ways that support the cultivation of compassion and align with our most heartfelt intention to wake up.
The theme for this ango is Karma & the Path of Compassion. Take that in for a moment. Feels big, right? For newer practitioners, this is a chance to study a core teaching and begin to see how it relates to our life. For more seasoned students, it’s a chance to deepen our recognition of the subtlety of cause and effect. For all of us, it’s an opportunity to expand our awareness of how suffering and liberation work. We’ll be emphasizing Buddhist Studies this fall, and Shugen Roshi will be leading a series of evening teaching sessions via Zoom. When you register for the ango, you’ll receive the study materials.
To get this ango off to a strong start, please join us for the Sangha Meeting on Thursday, September 2 at 7:30 pm. Roshi will speak about the theme, other aspects of the ango, and we’ll share some additional news and updates.
Starting Friday, September 3rd, we’ll open the training period with a Weekend Sesshin and the Ango Entering Ceremony on Sunday, with online and in-person participation. Please register for the ango by August 28th so we can include your name on the list of participants and then complete and return your ango commitment form by the end of the first week of ango, September 12. As you make your plans for the ango, consider reaching out to your training advisor or a senior student for guidance and support. In one sense making commitments is easy, it’s keeping them over the 90 days that is challenging. Learning how to get back on track or adjust when you need to is an integral part of the whole thing.
While we will continue to offer a range of online programs, including One Continuous Thread, sangha-led body practice, and a monthly art practice with Hojin Sensei, we are also hoping to see more of you in person this fall. With this in mind, the Training Office has developed a new opportunity for self-directed intensive practice within the context of residency. Please see the description of Refuge Week to learn more. (This opportunity is only open to formal training students.) We’ll also continue to offer the work residency option for those of you who are able to work remotely, while the Ango Intensive (11/4 – 11/7) and Hogen’s Sensei’s “Awakening to Karma” retreat (10/16) will be hybrids, with both in-person and online participation.
Finally, I’m delighted to announce that Degna Chikei Levister will be leading the ango as our Chief Disciple this fall. Chikei has been a model of what dedicated practice looks like for many years. In addition to many years of steady, daily practice and sesshin training, Chikei currently serves on the ZMM Board, has put in long hours creating and serving on the MRO Ethics Committee, and worked tirelessly as part of the Beyond Fear of Differences initiative since its inception. So, whether you realize it or not, just by being part of this sangha, you’ve already experienced her fierce love for the Three Treasures. I have no doubt that she will help galvanize and inspire all of us throughout the coming months. Please read her letter to the sangha here.
Okay, friends. Let’s come together again to support each other in the endeavor of a lifetime: To commit to being present and tender; to learn to better love each other and care for this struggling world; to challenge our limited views and open our hearts. The study of karma can definitely shake things up. But you know what? That’s exactly what we came looking for.
Yours in the dharma,