“Warming the Jewel” Program
(see pdf below for details, as well as “Warming the Hearth” Program)
Although this inconceivable Dharma is abundant
in each person, it is not actualized without practice,
and it is not experienced without realization.
– Eihei Dogen Zenji
Santa Cruz Zen Center offers a unique opportunity for those who have begun Zen practice and want to take the next step, and for experienced practitioners who want to refresh their wholehearted dedication to the Way. "Warming the Jewel" is a one-year commitment to the intention of bringing deep awareness of our present experience into our meditation practice and into our daily lives, for the benefit of everyone we meet including ourselves, and to studying the teachings of the Buddhas and Ancestors deeply and thoroughly so as to transform our understanding and life experience. It is based on making Zen practice in the sangha a priority, while recognizing that we live complex householder lives. The program offers a challenging array of practice opportunities and Dharma studies, but is designed to be sustainable and enlivening for a person with family responsibilities and a full-time job.
Three times a year (at the beginning of the fall and winter Practice Periods and again in June), all are invited to join the program. This begins with requesting to commit to a student-teacher relationship with one of the senior teachers (Kokyo, Patrick, or Gene), and to the group of other "Jewel Warmers," for one year. The new group will have an entering ceremony in the zendo on a Wednesday night.
Everyone in the program will participate in the two Practice Periods (attending every Wednesday night talk during that time), sesshins (at least 7 days of all-day sitting per year), and classes (at least 2 class series per year). They also commit to a regular group zazen practice, the heart of Warm Jewel Temple (attending at least 5 periods of zazen per week at SCZC, with the exception of 4 weeks vacation time), and to attending Sangha Day (at least 3 per year), Full Moon Precept Renewal Ceremony (at least 6 per year), and Wednesday night talks (at least 10 outside of Practice Periods).
They help take care of the group practice by learning to be doan, fukudo, or jiko and fulfilling these zendo roles each week, as needed. Group meetings once a month with the head teacher, held exclusively for "Warming the Jewel" participants, will focus on practical aspects of Zen training. Practice discussions (dokusan) with student and teacher will be at least twice a month. Program participants make a financial membership pledge to Zen Center based on their individual circumstances.
By joining this program, practitioners will deeply support each other's practice, as well as all of Santa Cruz Zen Center, and receive the many benefits of mutual support from the sangha. Other benefits include the opportunity to investigate one's practice more closely with a teacher, small group Dharma discussion meetings, decision-making input and responsibility for Santa Cruz Zen Center, and most importantly, an opportunity to practice with a deeper intention and dedication, with a committed group of people who can rely on each other. Practice happens when we take it up. It is challenging to approach the living edge of our practice and life. "Warming the Jewel" is designed to help bring us to this living edge. Anyone interested in joining the program may contact the head teacher.
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