Sangha Practice Groups

This ango, we’re experimenting with a new way to bring people together across a distance so that you can support each other throughout the ango and nurture your sense of sangha. We’re envisioning these groups as meeting twice a month for about an hour, via Zoom video conference. (See dates at the bottom of this page.

Participation is optional, but we are asking those that choose to participate to commit to a time slot for the ango. This is so that the groups can develop and evolve and the actual sense of community and relationship can take root. If you have to miss a meeting or two, that’s okay, but please try to keep that to a minimum and let your group members know ahead of time if you can’t attend.

Suggested Group Guidelines & Format:

The facilitator keeps track of time and makes sure everyone has a chance to speak. If the conversation seems to be veering too far off course, the facilitator can kindly guide things back on track. This position can rotate each meeting.

We suggest you plan on meeting for an hour to start. If that’s not enough time, then it’s fine to plan to go longer in the future. Decide at the beginning what time you would like to end so the facilitator can track time accordingly. If things come to an end early, that’s okay.

Begin with a few minutes of zazen. Then, the facilitator offers the following invocation:

In coming together for this sangha gathering, we recognize that to enter into the Sangha and practice the Way is a most rare and precious opportunity. Since the time of our original teacher, protecting and strengthening the vitality, health and sincerity of the Sangha has been of utmost importance. May we use this time together to support each other’s practice for the benefit of all beings.

Brief check-in. Each person takes 1-3 minutes to share what is coming up for them in their life and practice.

Discussion. After everyone has done their check-in, the facilitator can help the group decide on a focus/theme for the conversation. You might notice common themes emerging during the check-in, and use that as a jumping off point. A good place to start could be the matter of commitment itself. How are you experiencing the balance between your Zen practice and your other responsibilities? You might also find it helpful to take up the ango theme of The Eightfold Path using the suggested study materials or other readings. Bring your questions to the group and take advantage of the collective wisdom.

The facilitator should shift to closure about 10 minutes before the end. Sit for a couple of minutes to let the conversation settle. Then each person offers a brief “appreciation”—this could something someone said during the meeting, or something/someone they feel is supporting them in their practice life right now.

To end, the facilitator can offer the final dedication:

As we end our gathering, we sincerely aspire to true compassion. May we embody the spirit of Kannon Bodhisattva, manifesting her ten thousand hands and eyes in our speech, listening, and action. We dedicate these merits to all Buddhas throughout space and time, to all Bodhisattvas and Mahasattvas. Maha Prajna Paramita.

Groups are open to all formal ango participants and no registration is required. Just click on the links below at the appointed time. It would be good for people to arrive online a few minutes early to assure that the discussion can start on time.  Zoom is a very intuitive program. If you can use Skype or Facetime on your device, you can also Zoom. If you have not used it before, the link will prompt you to download the Zoom platform which will then install automatically.

Group members may wish to share their contact information with each other at the first meeting, so that you can be in touch between meetings.

Since there will be no monastics or teachers present in these groups, if your group runs into any challenges, needs particular support, or would like to let us know how its going, please reach out! You can email the training office at ZMMtrain@mro.org

Click links below to join meetings at appointed times:
Tuesday, September 3, 8pm
Saturday, September 7, 1pm
Tuesday, September 17, 8pm
Saturday, September 21, 1pm

Tuesday, October 1, 8pm
Saturday, October 5, 1pm
Tuesday, October 15, 8pm
Saturday, October 19, 1pm

Tuesday, October 29, 8pm
Saturday, November 2, 1pm
Tuesday, November 12, 8pm
Saturday, November 16, 1pm