Summer Ango in the City

Jun. 13, 2010 - Posted by in: Events - 17 Comments

Manhattanhenge Photo by A. Jesse Jiryu Davis

I’ve often wondered whether summer ango would have flourished to the same extent in the Buddha’s time if the monsoon rains didn’t exist. It was a perfect time, with not too many competing distractions, to sit. The sound of the rain rhythmically pelting down would have been an invitation, in itself, to ‘peaceful dwelling,’ or at least to keeping everyone together under one roof.  Of course, the folks at the Grail for summer ango don’t need monsoon rains – they have the container provided by Roshi, a round-the-clock schedule, and the commitment to being in residential practice.

So the question has come up as to what ango in the city should look like. (Thank you Neil Soten for keeping us on our toes!) How we can support each other, using all the ingredients of our life as we  juggle our various roles and schedules, to still experience ‘peaceful dwelling?’

Various contributions have been made to the conversation so far, thanks to Marie and MyoGetsu: increase the numbers of zazenkai; hold horizontal practice circles (no teacher) to discuss the ango study text; replace dharma talks (Thurs?) with study/discussion groups.

We’d like to hear from those of you who are going to be around for some or all of the ango period which goes from end of July 21 to August 22. What would be supportive of practice for you? What would you be willing to commit to? What are your thoughts on this topic? We can use this space to see how much of a groundswell of interest there is,  and if so, create our own monsoon rains. One caveat, your suggestion should be for something you could commit to for the period of ango and not just once or twice.

  1. 17 Responses to “Summer Ango in the City”

  2. I say an enthusiastic yes to study/discussion groups (which, in fact, I would like to see year round — perhaps on a monthly basis?)

    Can I commit to the full period? I believe so and hope so.

    Sorry to be so terse here,



    By Nina Shuka on Jun 13, 2010

  3. this was one thing i was thinking, actually: a weekly tea or some such thing to engage the ango text in parallel to your engagement of it up there. maybe a listen through to dharma talks from the grail together down in the city and then discussion/council to respond to these teachings…?

    would also be game for a zazenkai schedule, looser and more flexible than a typical zazenkai given the fewer personnel around. somewhere between ‘open sitting’ and zazenkai?

    maybe sunday afternoon added to sunday morning as an open sitting?

    just some thoughts!

    By Soten on Jun 14, 2010

  4. The idea of ango in the city warms my heart, opens my eyes and I say, yes, yes, yes. Having longed for years to go away for an ango, and being constrained by the demands of work, children, grandchildren, I have finally come to see that perhaps the best ango is “this”…right here in the middle of everything, sit, stand, breathe, laugh. Though I am not a student at village zendo, I do receive your mailings and this particularly struck me, as it seems, once again, it will be difficult for me to get away for the summer. Such a weight lifted from my heart at the thought of it.

    By Eshin Brenda Shoshanna on Jun 14, 2010

  5. i like both ideas Soten-
    listening together to the talks and having a discussion. I listened to all the podcasts last year on my own, but would be nice to listen to them in community with some siting beforehand,

    and an afternoon open sitting after Sunday morning program. we could have a silent lunch in between, with people bringing their own bagged lunch instead if a more formal meal.

    thanks for bringing up the idea of support for people who will not be at the grail for all or most of the ango. i appreciate that.


    By Navah on Jun 14, 2010

  6. I like the idea. I hope to have lots of dogs boarding during the month of August, so an all day Zazenkai could be a challenge for me. I like the idea of a Thursday discussion of the text (who knows maybe I would actually read the text for once…) I could see adding an afternoon of just sitting on Sunday after the regular sit.

    By Sogen on Jun 14, 2010

  7. I will be glad to participate AND help, although I will be away for Shusso Sesshin.

    As for ideas, why don’t we start modestly? After all, it’s the practice. I can see the amount of work required for a Zazenkai, not to mention the amount of work required not just for the all-day retreat, but also the daily maintenance. I went to samu practice on Friday night (left work early, skipped dinner with a friend…) and one person signed up for samu–thankfully, four people showed up and the Zendo was in good maintenance.

    Will you make samu / work practice part of your Ango? It’s a deeply spiritual practice–but it’s also not a spectator sport.

    Paul (in his “Martha” role)

    By PaulRomaine on Jun 14, 2010

  8. I had hoped that somehow it would magically be possible to spend more than the precepts week up at the Grail – but that particular magic didn’t happen. I would be very enthusiastic about have a “City” summer Ango. Yes, yes, to all the suggestions – particularly a reading group where we could support each other in exploring some of the more difficult texts. I am currently being flattened by the Platform Sutra and certainly use some help.
    In sewing my rakusa in our sewing groups I have found the coming together and supporting each other in this activity to be such a wonderful experience. There are so many wonderful suggestions so far on how we could share the dharma together; count me in!

    By Guo Ming on Jun 14, 2010

  9. so i’m thinking two things:
    1. thursday evening for summer ango: 1 period sitting, listen to the pdcast dharma talk of the moment, 1 go round in council
    2. do this on sunday mornings and then have open sitting together in the afternoon as people wish…

    only two options! may be better ones, but these come to mind after reading the above notes…

    boarding my plane for home in a minute! YAY!!!!

    By Soten on Jun 16, 2010

  10. I’ll be here this summer, sitting tall, happy to bring my spine to the Zendo. Both options sound good and doable to me; my attendance as usual is dependent on 72 labors and lives.

    By Yuuka on Jun 16, 2010

  11. lovely to hear the different voices raised in a chorus of support for summer ango in the city!

    i like the proposal to listen to pdcasts on thursdays –

    as for sunday, my own preference would be for a ‘live’ happening…. i’ll be there for all except 8/15

    shuso hossein is on 8/22 when the zendo either closes or is running on reserve as most people will be at the grail.

    i propose doing a study/practice circle using a line or two from the text – council style on 7/25, 8/1, 8/8

    we would skip service which would allow us two periods of sitting and interview followed by one period of practice/study group

    basically the format would be inner circle for those who wish to participate, outer circle those who’d rather listen

    as for staying open later in the afternoon, we’d need a sign-up on specific dates for those who would commit to being responsible for this

    I’d like to remind folks that ‘just sitting’ will also be offered by howard on sat july 24 and august 21 (2pm -5pm) – an opportunity for extended sitting, bare bones style

    there you have it – be good to get final approval for these suggestions from our practice coordinator, shinryu sensei

    will keep everyone posted and thanks again for weighing in!


    By Joshin on Jun 17, 2010

  12. sounds great to me!

    By Soten on Jun 18, 2010

  13. So – we have a plan! I love the idea of Thursday evenings listening to and discussing a talk (I’ve always wished there were an opportunity to do this), and Sundays the text study/council.



    By Nina Shuka on Jun 18, 2010

  14. Silence is one of the treasures of an ango. It’s rare we can share sustained silence in our daily lives.

    Is there a dharma talk scheduled in the City on Sundays during the summer ango? If so, could it be followed by an additional zazen? Then silent lunch, then Just Sitting.

    I feel that this additional zazen could strengthen the day.

    Just a proposal.
    Marie Hannya Ko

    By Marie Hannya Ko on Jun 19, 2010

  15. I would suggest ( not that I would prefer) some fixed commitment – some discpline and demand. Meaning I would be expected to commit to more zazen than usual – and more study. It is a lovely opportunity for group study and open discussion – and maybe an opportunity for outreach?
    Bows Myogetsu

    By MyoGetsu on Jun 24, 2010

  16. OK, all – i think if the thursday night Ango programming will work, we need some volunteers to commit to being there on one night or another.

    could anyone who is able to supervise/host a thursday night (or more than one) email me directly…?

    i’m away for some of the time, as is joshin. musho is away for all but the first. so we have some gaps.

    please advise QUICKLY!!!


    By Soten on Jun 28, 2010

  17. I just wanted to note that the first go-through of the Urban Ango with the informal Zazenkai on Saturday was wonderful. There were regulars, but some new people stopped in for part of the day. Eicho’s talk was well-considered and thought-provoking. Lunch was generous and nourishing in so many ways. It was a beautiful day, and I’m deeply grateful to everyone who made it possible!

    By PaulRomaine on Jul 12, 2010

  18. Sounds wonderful. sorry to have missed it.
    I plan to attend the discussion circle with Joshin on the Dogen reading.

    By Navah on Jul 16, 2010

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