Everyday Zen Foundation

changing and being changed by the world

Everyday Zen Bay Area


Fall 2019 Practice Period


Sunday, September 15th – Sunday, November 17th

Hi all,

Below you will find the announcement for our annual Fall Practice Period. I am happy to be studying the bodhisattva path and especially happy to practice with Steve as Shuso.

I hope you will join us.

Yours, Norman 

Our 15th Annual Practice Period

Our 15th annual EDZ Bay Area Practice Period is set to begin on Sunday, September 15th and will run until Sunday, November 17th. Read on if you want to consider joining the Practice Period as either a Bay Area Participant or a Long-Distance/Web-based Participant.

Practice Period Application and Commitment Forms (see below)
are due by Monday, September 9.

Please help us by honoring this deadline!



What is a Practice Period?

Practice periods are an ancient Zen Buddhist tradition, and a special time each year when practitioners make personal and collective commitments to intensify their practice. Traditionally, Zen practice periods take place in monasteries. In nonresidential Western Zen sanghas, events at the temple define the Practice Period.

The practice of our Everyday Zen group is focused not on events at a temple, but on everyday action in our relationships, our work, our study, and our regular sitting, which often takes place at home. And so, Everyday Zen practice periods depend on the integrity of the commitment each participant makes, as well as the strength of our shared intention and mutual support.

For those of you living beyond the San Francisco Bay Area (where the Practice Period involves coming together person-to-person for practice), we offer an alternative option for participation, enabling you to practice more intensively, concurrent with those in the Bay Area. Long Distance participants access recorded talks from Practice Period seminars and other events, and have email &/or phone contact with practice leaders and other participants.

The Shuso

A Zen Practice Period often features a senior student who serves as Shuso, or Head Student, assisting the Teacher leading the Practice Period. The Shuso gives special talks and seminars, and is the focus of a concluding Question-and-Answer Ceremony. Long Distance participants can access Shuso talks online and submit a question for the Ceremony.

This year our Shuso will be Steve Gross, Shin Zan So Do, Faith Mountain, Ancestors Way, who has been practicing with the Everyday Zen sangha since it began. A financial planner, Steve is known in the sangha for his kindness, his sweetness, and his willingness to help. He has been the convener and shepherd for our Company Time retreats at Green Gulch (for businesspeople), and for many years has hung our zendo with beautiful Tibetan thangkas, the sale of which is part of his ongoing effort, in partnership with a Nepalese organization, to raise money for a much needed rural hospital.

How do I join the Practice Period?

To join the Practice Period, you must complete the Practice Period Application and Commitment Form. The deadline for submitting your form is Monday, September 9th.

This year, the Practice Period Application and Commitment Form is online. Find it by clicking the link or the button below, at the end of this email. 

If you run into difficulties with the form, please email Laura Trippi at


Is there a fee for joining the Practice Period?

Bay Area participants who attend seminars, sittings, dialogs, and other events will find suggested fees when registering for these events.

Long-distance participants are asked to consider a suggested donation of $100+ to help defray the costs of recordings and the phone outreach program. As always this is a guideline and is not meant to deter anyone from participating in the Practice Period.

Everyday Zen is entirely dependent upon the donations of students and practitioners, so if you are participating in the Practice Period and are able to make a donation, your generosity and support will be deeply appreciated.


Please review the Schedule of Events and the other sections below on the Theme, Sangha Partners, and Personal Commitment.

Bay Area Participants: If you are able to attend EDZ events in person during the Practice Period, we ask you to make a special effort to commit to coming to as many of these events as possible. Especially important are the Shuso Entering Ceremony (that begins the All-Day Sit on Sunday, September 15) and the Dharma Inquiry Ceremony (that concludes the All-Day Sit on Sunday, November 17). Please also refer to the section on Commitments for Bay Area Practice Period participants, below. Otherwise, if you are not able to attend events in person, please consider joining as a Long Distance/Web-based Participant.

Long-Distance/Web-based Participants: Please review all the sections below and then refer to the section on Commitments for Long-Distance/Web-based Practice Period members, below.

Schedule of Events

For more on individual events, please see the EDZ website Event Schedule.
Sept 9 Practice Period Commitment Forms due
Sept 15 All-Day Sit and Shuso Entering Ceremony / NatureBridge at Marin Headlands (9 am - 5pm) / Shuso Entering Ceremony at the beginning of the day, about 9:30.
Sept 18 Opening Dharma Seminar / Community Congregational Church, Tiburon / Led by Norman
Sept 25 Dharma Seminar led by Shuso Steve Gross
Sept 26 – 29 5th annual Zen Women’s Retreat at Aravaipa Canyon Ranch in Arizona / Led by Chris Fortin and Sue Moon
Oct 2 Dharma Seminar led by Norman
Oct 5 Saturday All-Day Sit / Green Gulch Farm (9 am - 5 pm) / Led by Norman
Oct 9 Dharma Seminar led by Steve
Oct 16 Dharma Seminar led by Jaune
Oct 20 Norman retreat and dharma talk at Sacramento Buddhist Meditation Group. (see their website for information)
Oct 20 EDZ Dialog: Sitting Down and Waking Up Together—Engaged Buddhism and Ensuring Democracy in the 2020 Elections / Led by Chris Fortin, Sue Moon, Alan Senauke
Oct 23 Dharma Seminar led by Norman
Oct 28 – Nov 3 Annual Practice Period Sesshin / Santa Sabina Center, San Rafael (Mon late afternoon Sun midday) / Shuso will be giving two talks during sesshin.
Oct 30 NOTE: No dharma seminar this week. Sesshin at Santa Sabina will be in session.
Nov 6 Dharma Seminar led by Norman
Nov 13 Dharma Seminar led by Steve
Nov 17 All Day Sit and Shuso Dharma Inquiry Ceremony / NatureBridge in Marin Headlands (9 am – 5 pm) / Ceremony at 4 pm, followed by a reception. You can come for the ceremony only, if you’re unable to attend the sitting.
TBD Practice Period Discussions/Teas with the Shuso: Dates and locations around the Bay Area to be announced


Our theme for this Practice Period is "Being Bodhisattvas." We'll be using Norman's recent book, "The World Could Be Otherwise: Imagination and the Bodhisattva Path," as our primary text. 

The focus of The World Could Be Otherwise is the six paramitas (the six bodhisattva practices, or perfections) of generosity, ethical conduct, patient forbearance, enthusiastic energy, meditation, and transcendent wisdom. We'll explore the possibility that we can completely transform our lives and the world around us by being bodhisattvas, energetic beings with a positive vision to love and change the world for the better — and to back this up with large and small actions.

As we all know, the world needs as many bodhisattvas as possible!

Sangha Partners

Your sangha partner is someone you request or who is assigned to you at the beginning of the Practice Period, and with whom you speak on the phone, via Skype, or in person at least three times during the Practice Period. We will send suggestions about how to keep your communication focused and practice-oriented.

Personal Commitment

Finally, we ask each member of the Practice Period to make a personal commitment to intensify his or her practice in whatever way possible. This might include additional sitting at home, more study or reading, work on a particular practice theme in daily life, or some appropriate personal alteration in lifestyle.

Commitments for Bay Area Practice Period participants:
  1. Attend as many practice events as you can from September 15 to November 17.
  2. Meet with the Shuso for a Practice Period Tea (schedule of dates and locations to be announced).
  3. Talk &/or meet with your sangha partner at least four times.
  4. Intensify your personal practice.
Commitments for Long-Distance/Web-based Practice Period participants: We suggest some version or combination of the following:
  1. Daily sitting practice.
  2. Listen each week to the dharma seminar talk posted on the website, and to other dharma talks given during this period.
  3. Attend a local meditation group once a week, if possible.
  4. Keep in contact with an Everyday Zen Practice Leader through phone appointment and/or email at least twice during this period. Contact information for this will be emailed to you.
  5. If possible, coming to the Bay Area once during the time for any of the events listed above.
  6. Email a formal dharma question during the last week of the practice period (November 11-18) that Shuso Steve will respond to via email.
  7. Work with your Everyday Zen Practice Leader to pick a dharma theme that you will pay attention to in your daily life during the Practice Period.
  8. Stay in touch with the Sangha partner who is assigned to you. Your sangha partner will be another long-distance Practice Period member (if there’s someone you would like to be assigned to, you can let us know in the Commitment Form). We suggest four phone calls, Skype appointments, or emails during the course of the Practice Period. We will send suggestions about how to keep your communication focused and practice-oriented.
Once the practice period begins, you will receive the name and contact information for your Practice Period partner, and you will also receive an email from your Practice Leader to arrange for further communication.

Practice Leaders

The Practice Leaders are senior members of the Everyday Zen community who have usually been studying for more than ten years with our teacher Zoketsu Norman Fischer. They are ordained Buddhist priests or lay teachers. All of them work in the world and live lay lives, though they practice regularly and help to lead the Everyday Zen community in the Bay Area.

Practice Period
Application & Commitment Form

Everyone who wants to join the Practice Period needs to fill out and submit an Application and Commitment Form, which will help us understand who you are and how you intend to practice for the Period. 

This year, the Practice Period Application and Commitment Form is online. Find it by clicking on the button below. You might want to compose your answers in another document, then copy and paste them into the form.
Practice Period Application & Commitment Form
If you run into difficulties with the form, please email Laura Trippi at

This is also the address to use if you have any questions about the Practice Period. After you submit the Application and Commitment Form, a copy will be emailed back to you within a few days. 

Thanks for joining us.
This information can also be found on the Practice Period page on the EDZ website. Header image: Detail of The World Could Be Otherwise book jacket.
© 2019 Everyday Zen Foundation

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