The Term Intensive (TI) offers us a supportive structure in which to extend our practice efforts for a set period of time. Participants pledge to uphold a schedule of increased sitting and, if they wish, other aspects of discipline that relate directly or indirectly to their Zen practice.
Over the years, members have found a variety of commitments that support their lives and their sitting. Take a while to think about what you’d like to add or change in your daily life. Here, as examples, are just a few of the things that people have taken on:
- doing housework silently and mindfully
- keeping a spiritual diary
- studying and reflecting on the Buddhist precepts
- sewing a rakusu
- finding times during the day (for example, when sitting in your car at a stoplight or waiting for your children to be dropped off from school) when you can do zazen for moment
- finding ways and devoting time to help out in the greater community
You can also commit to refraining from or cutting back on activities that interfere with your energy and attention. As examples:
- cutting back on internet scrolling
- eating less junk food
- or working on any other of the many unhelpful habits that clutter and diminish our lives.
Sitting, as the core practice in Zen, is the basis of the TI, and increasing it will fortify any other pledges you make. As Zen Master Hakuin says, “Upholding the precepts, repentance and giving, the countless good deeds, and the way of right living all come from zazen.”
For each participant the program begins by formulating specific commitments that are then submitted on the TI form below. You can be specific about how long and when you will sit each day or leave it more flexible and commit to a certain number of extra hours each week. You should look to extend yourself in your efforts, while being realistic at what you can manage. It is better to undertake a more modest pledge and fulfill it than to overshoot. It is like executing a hatha yoga posture, in which you stretch as far as you safely can and then hold that posture.
If you have a family or partner, it is wise to consult with them before you commit to the new daily and weekly demands of the program. This can help minimize tensions that could arise over your schedule.
During the Term Intensive we will meet each Thursday evening, both in person and via Zoom. This sharing of experience is one of the most rewarding parts of the program, helping to create a real bond among participants.
For the Term Intensive to serve its purpose, each participant must reach, but not overreach. If your sitting has been sporadic and your daily life undisciplined, don’t expect a single TI to rehabilitate you in any grand way. Consider your vows carefully rather than formulating them impulsively. Succeeding at baby steps is better than failing, week after week, at more ambitious goals. Be realistic—we are accountable for what we pledge to do.
Participants who can’t come to one or more of the weekly meetings are required each week to send a report to Sensei on how they are faring in their efforts. This is the accountability that gives fiber to the program. In return, the Center will send out notes to everyone of what each of us reported.
The central pillar of the Term Intensive is commitment. This is why the fixed beginning and end of the period has value: knowing that our heightened commitments are for just a limited time, we are more likely to dive into the challenge.
To participate, please fill out our form.