Winter and Fall Practice Groups

Zen practice involves discovering how Buddhist teachings inform our everyday life, moment to moment. Twice a year, the Zen West~Empty Field sangha offers a practice period for members to study a particular teaching and support one another’s exploration of this material amidst the joys and challenges of daily life. Participants experience the warm support, kind challenge, and full acceptance that comes with an intimate setting. Below are some general requirements for participation — please talk with Seido if you have any questions, or if this is your first study group with us, to discuss requirements and eligibility.

Fall Ango Period  September-December

Ango is a traditional 100-day intensive period during which participants increase their commitment to meditate and study together. It is a powerful way to deepen one’s relationship to practice and the sangha. In general, the fall theme revolves around Zen’s pointing to emptiness (boundlessness) and how this view moves us in our lives. Participants are required to make a vow of practice for the 100 days and attend regular sitting, at least two of the four scheduled daylong Sunday retreats (exceptions can be made for returning members), as well as meet with Seido in sanzen. If this is your first Ango period, please arrange to meet with Seido to discuss the commitment. Ango Commitment Form Example

Winter Study Group  February-April

Our eight-week study group focuses on a different Buddhist text each year that illustrates how practice changes the way we relate to our life situations and karmic history. Members develop a deeper understanding of how Zen functions amidst work, family, and societal realities. Commitment includes three one-day Sunday retreats and weekly online reflections with question prompts from Seido. Participants need to commit to two out of the three retreats. If this is your first time participating in a study group, the first retreat is required. Previous texts we have read include:

Ango study cc

  • Zen in the American Grain by Kyogen Carlson
  • A Winter Sesshin: Ten Talks on the Heart Sutra by Pat Enkyo O’hara
  • Dogen Zenji’s Genjo Koan with commentaries by Shohaku Okamura
  • The Sandokai and Branching Streams Flow On in the Dark by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
  • Bodhisattva Archetypes in Faces of Compassion by Daniel Taigen Leighton