The tradition of the intensive practice period dates back to the time of the Buddha when, during the rainy season, the Buddha and his disciples gathered in one place to meditate and study together. As our own rainy season approaches here in the Pacific Northwest, we will hold our 17th annual Mountain Rain practice period.
In Zen monasteries intensive practice periods traditionally last for three months, but ours is shorter, designed to support participants to intensify and strengthen their practice while living in the midst of family and work responsibilities. This year's practice period will be led by resident teachers Myoshin Kate McCandless. and Shinmon Michael Newton and our theme will be Fully Engaged: Taking our Practice into the World. As a practice community we will look deeply into how we can respond to the suffering in our own hearts and in the world around us—without turning away. Kate and Michael will lead the opening weekend retreat and a Wednesday evening dharma seminar series called How to be a Bodhisattva in the 21st Century. Practice period culminates in our annual Loon Lake six-day residential sesshin led by Zoketsu Norman Fischer, which follows the ancient rhythms of the monastic daily schedule, including meals with oryoki, the traditional three bowls used by monks.
During practice period, the shuso or "head monk" is a long-time practitioner whose role is to support the sangha by offering a weekly dharma seminar, giving several talks, meeting for tea with participants, and cleaning washrooms, a traditional practice of humility.
This year, we’re happy to welcome Jikai Vicki Turay as shuso. Vicki will lead a Sunday morning dharma seminar called, Practicing with the World: Cultivating Engaged Activity. Vicki has been a student of Buddhism for some 30 years. She lived with her husband and two children in a communal co-op in Vancouver for 25 years, and now lives with her husband on Mayne Island. She has worked and volunteered in a broad range of groups ranging from the B.C. Civil Liberties Union, adults with mental and physical challenges, environmental and social justice groups. Finding harmony between the inner and the outer aspects of her life has been her quest.
PDF of Recommended Readings and Resources on Engaged Buddhist Practice: Download
How to Participate
There are no specific requirements for participation, though we encourage you to register (see below). It helps to give your practice period some structure, in terms of beginning, ending and weekly practice. Various possible components are listed below as suggestions. Please take into consideration your family and work commitments and decide what will best nourish your practice.
· Home sitting practice
· Practice at the zendo
· Dokusan (individual meetings) with resident teachers and practice discussion with sangha leaders. (See below.)
· Participation in a practice period dyad/triad. (See below.)
· Participation in practice period retreats
· Participation in practice period classes
· "Zen Arts" practice (This can be broadly defined as any art/craft practiced with mindful awareness.)
· Family and/or work as practice
· Engaged Buddhist practice (service/activism)
· Commitment to simplify or restrict personal lifestyle
· Specific personal mindfulness practices
Practice Period Dyads/Triads
We'd like to encourage local and long distance participants to join a Practice Period Dyad/Triad. This is a small group of two or three people who ideally will meet at the beginning, mid-point and end of the practice period for discussion and support, in person or by phone. If you would like to join a dyad/triad please sign up on the registration form below. You can form a group with someone you know, or we'd be happy to match you up.
For those who live at a distance, dharma talks and seminar talks will be made available on the website soon after they have been given. Our practice leaders, Nin-en Susan Elbe, Dai-I Flo Rublee and Joko Claire Talbot, all of whom have been shuso for a past practice period, will serve as practice mentors by phone or e-mail for long-distance participants. Specific guidelines will be given. Please indicate on the registration form below if you would like a practice mentor. Availability may be limited, depending on how many requests we receive. Dokusan (discussion about your practice) with resident teachers Shinmon Michael and Myoshin Kate is available by phone by request. If you would like to schedule a phone dokusan please contact email@example.com and the teacher will contact you to arrange a time.
Dana: Dana is an ancient Pali word that means generosity. It is an important part of our practice and has many aspects, one of which is supporting teachers so that they can give their time and energy to sharing the dharma with the sangha. Dana is completely voluntary and the amount is up to your discernment, considering your circumstances. Dana checques to the teachers or practice leaders can be made out to the individual, and sent to Mountain Rain Zen Community 2016 Wall St. Vancouver, BC V5L 1B1
This registration form below will help you plan your practice period and clarify your intentions in advance. Anyone is welcome to participate in the events during practice period, but if you register as a participant, it will affirm your commitment, and you will receive weekly email updates, resources and suggestions for discussion. Participants are invited to send in reflections, questions, photos, or poems to share with other participants, and we’ll post them in the weekly newsletter.
Practice period is a wonderful way to strengthen and nourish your practice, supported by the sangha. We hope you’ll be able to participate in whatever way is best for you.
Please click the link below to open the registration form: