Fall Ango 2023 and Winter Training

· Articles & Essays, Zen Training

As summer colors held fast we began the Ango Training period in September, a three-month span of retreats, training and commitments to personal practice taken up by nearly 300 people.

The Ango Opening Ceremony was held both upstate and downstate at the Fire Lotus Temple in Brooklyn for participants to cross the threshold into ango, and at the Monastery this included the installation of Chief Disciple for the ango, monastic Yusen Taikyo.

September’s notable events included a Jukai—Buddhist Precepts Ceremony, a taking of the bodhisattva vows by four MRO students, officiated by their teacher Shugen Roshi. After fulfilling all the preliminary requirements, these four spent the week in teachings with Roshi and sewing their raksus at the Monastery in preparation for the Sunday ceremony.

Family and friends joined the wider sangha to participate in this entry of these four into the Bodhisattva Path as Buddhists, a day to celebrate! You can listen to the ceremony here.

From left to right, Shugen Roshi, Theresa Ryoka Braine, “clear lucid wonder”; Sharon Chigo Kelly “ground essence of strength,” Roni Kasho Schnadow “joyful auspicious spirit,” and Alex Rogetsu Rothstein “open exposed moon.”

Ango included the return of monthly zazenkai at the Fire Lotus Temple/ZCNYC, a full Saturday of zazen, liturgy, oryoki and teachings. Led by Hojin Sensei, Abbot of FLT, the return of these intensives give sangha members a chance to deepen their practice, especially during ango, and build on the half-day sits which have been a mainstay on Saturday mornings.

The final sesshin of the ango concluded with the Shuso Hossen Ceremony, when amidst drums, bells, clappers and the Heart Sutra, the Chief Disciple monastic Taikyo gave her first public talk and met the sangha in Dharma Encounter.

Shuso Hossen concludes with the essential sesshin participant group photo!

In the darkening days of early December, the Monastery and the Temple held their annual Buddha’s Enlightenment Vigil commemorating the solitary sitting of the Buddha’s night of complete realization, which we observe by bringing ourselves to the bodhi seat. At the closing ceremony, Shugen Roshi offered this poem:

for Shakyamuni Buddha ~
You have been born countless times
and here today your body appears again;
You’ve died continuously since the beginning
and here today you elude our grasp;

One solitary morning
on the seat of bodhi
you saw through the illness of every age,
and said you would always appear for our sake—

Dear Teacher,
may your wisdom light
continue to cast off the veils.
May your Dharma Rain
fall everywhere the same
and calm the many fires
that burn still
in these beautiful,
if troubled,

Tenkosan Doshinji
December 10, 2023

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