An-Cu Summer Intensive
kwan Yin

Dwelling in Peace

An-Cu (Ango in Japanese) literally means "dwelling in peace" and refers to a tradition honored in every Buddhist country in the world since the time of the Buddha. It is also known as three-month training, summer intensive or rainy season retreat.

All year long, monks travel from place to place or are available at their monasteries to teach and counsel laypeople and novices. For three months of the year, these monastics retreat into their own practice, to study and meditate, to enhance their understanding.

This tradition began because of the compassion of the Buddha. In India, during the rainy season, the constant moisture brings out all the various kinds of insects, lizards and other small animals. It becomes impossible to travel anywhere without killing some sentient being traveling across the path under one's feet. So Sakyamuni told the monks to take advantage of this time to stay inside and to intensify their own practice, studying and meditating, thereby benefitting all concerned.

Participate in Three-Month Training

Three-month training is required for monks who are novices working toward further ordination or who are fully ordained and wish to advance in dharma age. However, it is also a good opportunity for lay practitioners to intensify their practice. It is a limited amount of time, and everyone can decide just how much more time and effort they can commit to. And, because the program at IBMC is intensified, there are more opportunities to join in. The meditative energy in the zendo becomes stronger, making it easier to practice. The community effort is reinforcing.

The opening ceremony for our three-month summer training is done to invite the Dharma Protectors to come to the four corners of the monastery grounds. Since the monks stay in the compound during this time, the Dharma Protectors come and stay with them to protect them. They also protect the monastery itself. These four strong Dharma Protectors can help create a spiritual atmosphere which brings peace and safety to our neighborhood. Please join us.

Some Suggestions For Intensifying Your Practice

We encourage you to intensify your practice during this three months. If you meditate once a week, try for twice. If you meditate 20 minutes a day, make it 25 minutes. Come to Sunday services more often.

Become a vegetarian for three months. Mahayana monks are traditionally vegetarian. This reflects the practice of ahimsa or not harming. As we know now, animal protein, especially in the amounts most Americans eat is not healthy. However, if you have never been a vegetarian before, be sure you are replacing the meat in your diet with vegetable protein such as tofu or beans and rice. Some people eat eggs and dairy products. If you have any health problems, please check with your doctor before making this decision. Also, it may be better to cut back on meat gradually so your body can adjust.

Start off each day with taking refuge and reciting the precepts. When you wake in the morning, say "I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dharma, I take refuge in the Sangha." This means that we go to these three jewels for guidance. When you do this, think of what each of them means. The Buddha, of course, is the teacher, a human being who became awakened. As we are all human beings and all have the same nature, Buddha nature, we too have the potential to become awakened. The Dharma refers to the teachings, what the Buddha discovered and then taught, what others who have followed the path have shared; it also refers to what we learn from living in the world. The Sangha is the community of practitioners, the monks as well as others who follow the Buddha's way. Together we learn and support each other's practice.

Repeat the five basic precepts accepted by all Buddhist practitioners. "I vow not to take life. I vow not to take what is not given to me. I vow not to indulge in improper sexual acts. I vow not to speak that which is harmful. I vow not to become intoxicated." Think of how these vows fit into your life. It will help you to see your daily actions more clearly. If you do not keep the precepts 100%, it is not a problem. The important thing is to become more and more conscious about the effect our actions have on ourselves and others.

The Advanced Class

This class, taught by Ven. Dr. Karuna Dharma, is open to laypeople who have been practicing and studying for at least a year. It is a part of the summer training program, so class members are at various levels of understanding, including fully-ordained monks, novice monks, eight-precept laypeople and others. Contact Rev. Karuna Dharma for more information on course topics and schedule.