As the summer was comming to an end I was wondering how to renew and deepen the practice and reconnect with a community of like-minded and a teacher this autumn in the present conditions of a rather busy life. I saw the announcements on TreeLeaf virtual sangha’s and Wild Life Zen’s online sites encouraging the practitioners to participate in 100-day Ango period inspired by the practice periods during the rainy season that monks and nuns have done since the Buddha’s day.
I can use Appropriate Response as a journal of sorts for the coming 100 days, where I can share and reflect about the Ango exeriences: the ups, the downs and the middles of it as they come. I intend to stick with a sketchy and concise form not to make it a burden and think this would help me have a better overview of the way the experiences will unfold.
So, what is “ANGO”? Jundo kindly provided some information on that.
Ango, literally “peaceful dwelling”, is a period of concentrated and committed Zen practice, usually lasting three-months in the Soto Zen tradition. The roots of Ango arise from the earliest days of the Buddhist monastic community in India, when monks and nuns would cease their wandering and settle together in one place for the rainy season. Even today in Zen monasteries of Japan, Ango is a time of intense and rigorous training, typically including long hours of Zazen, short hours for sleep, formal meals taken in the Zendo (meditation hall), and a structured schedule for the rest of the day comprising periods for work, liturgy, study, rest, and personal needs. In the West, most Zen groups have adapted the form of the three-month practice period to the needs and demands of life in their communities.
The idea is to bring practice into everyday life and life into practice, merge the two.
Jundo further writes on his blog:
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.
Making time for zazen, weekly Zazenkai without fail or for checking in with the virtual community and the teacher might be one of the challenges for me, as I way too often let the mind convince me a few minutes of sleep would do me more good than sleepy zazen. I believe it is possible to do both: get enough sleep and sit zazen if I look over my schedule and make some rearrangements.
Here we go!