Abbot Hozan on Practice Periods

Our practice period, in the springtime when the circle of life turns in renewal, is an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the practice of living an enlightened life, to renew our beginner’s mind. Practice period includes sitting, walking, chanting, cooking, serving, eating, working, resting—all of this is enlightened activity, woven into whole cloth by zazen.

BZC members have jobs, families, and responsibilities outside the gate. Our practice is as much in our homes and in the world as in the zendo. This is our ongoing Dharma experiment—dedicated lay practice, sitting with everything. During practice period we do have recommended requirements, but within these requirements each person creates his/her/their own schedule. Some will be able to do only the minimum; others who are able can extend themselves further.

Each of us must be realistic about our capacity. The important thing—during practice period and throughout the year—is to clarify and set a practice intention, then do our best to keep to that intention. You don’t have to break your bones to do practice period. But don’t be slack with yourself either. With Right Effort our practice edge comes into view. What is the Middle Way? Whatever commitment and schedule one arrives at, we are all practicing together intimately.

Not everyone in the sangha has the time and energy to participate in practice period. That is completely understandable, and everyone is welcome to come to the zendo when they can. The PP class is open to all, and sesshins will be open to non-PP participants as space allows. All of us are supporting and being supported by the practice period— peaceful abiding. These weeks together can extend throughout the year. As Dogen says, “Practice period goes beyond this.” (from the May‒June 2023 Newsletter)

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