From the 13th October to the 13th December, a group of monks, nuns, heads of dojos and bodhisattvas gathered together at Kanshoji monastery. Some had come from outside the monastery, others were residents of Kanshoji. They all lived together for two months doing ango, monastic practice. Ango means “to reside in tranquillity”, far from our habitual preoccupations, away from the dust and noise of the world.
In learning the traditional forms, the fourteen angosha (1) were assisted by experienced monks and nuns who had participated in the official ango of the Sôtô school at the Gendronnière.
A variety of dharma teachers from the AZI and other European sanghas taught through lectures.
Everyone immersed themselves in daily practice. Wake up was at 5:30 am, lights out at 9:30 pm; there was not much space given for free time and personal preoccupations.
The dojo was transformed into a sodo (2). Everyone practiced zazen, did meal ceremonies and slept there. Everyone practiced together the three daily ceremonies, study, and samu, which was limited to the essential tasks of daily life during this period…
This practice of life required being present at each moment and paying great attention to one’s relationship to others. It woke us up to our dysfunctional behaviour, propelled us into forgetting the self and the reality of interdependence. The ango naturally made all these fundamental aspects of our practice accessible.
During these days, a strong and harmonious atmosphere developed. Deep connections were created among the angosha. A feeling of gratitude appeared for the practice of the buddhas, for what was transmitted to us, and for each person’s practice. It is through practising the tradition that we are able to protect its heart: the aspiration to awaken, the giving mind, the discipline of attention and respect for everyone. It is through practising the tradition that new forms can be unconsciously created in the future, adapted to our culture and time.
The training period ended with the rohatsu sesshin, which commemorates Buddha’s awakening; it is a sesshin practiced in silence, focused on zazen.
Nobody was left indifferent by ango. Everyone departed transformed, with an open heart, invigorated by a deeper faith in the practice, and hoping to return next year.