White Wind Zen Community's Long-distance Training Program was established in 1995 to support the practice of students living more than an hour's commuting distance from Dainen-ji, the monastery founded by Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi, located in Ottawa, Canada. Since that time, people living all over the world have joined the Sangha of students studying and practicing under the direction of Roshi's Lineage.
Students receiving instruction through the Long-distance Training Program receive initial instruction as “preliminary students” from the Practice Council to clarify their understanding of Zen practice prior to applying at the first category of enrolment as a “public associate student” (“public” indicates that they are training at a distance from the monastery). As and if they deepen their practice sufficiently, they can apply as a “public general student”, a “public probationary formal student” or a “public formal student”. It is possible for students practising at a distance to deepen their practice further by training as laymonks if they are able to come to Dainen-ji at least once or twice a year to receive face-to-face instruction and Transmission. Full monastic training requires full-time residential training in the monastery for a period of years.
Currently, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, students living in Ottawa are also receiving instruction through the Long-distance Training Program.
Formal Introduction to the Practice
The training provided to long-distance students is based on the structure and standards of training presented at Dainen-ji. Those living near the monastery begin practice by attending an Introduction to Zen Workshop. In order to provide those living at a distance with a similar introduction, they are asked to read the Beginner's Mind Workshop transcript. This is a transcript of an Introduction to Zen Practice Workshop presented by Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi in 1991. It will provide you with some information about our practice and the style of presentation used. It is suggested that you read through the transcript two or three times. After you have read through the Beginner's Mind Workshop transcript, sit for 30 minutes, timed with a clock. If you are uncertain about how to arrange your posture, please read The Posture of Zazen.
The practice of Zen is experiential and instruction is based on your actual experience of doing the practice. As soon as possible after reading the transcript, sit for a full half hour and then write to the monastery to let us know that you read the Beginner's Mind Workshop transcript, sat a 30-minute round of zazen, and would like to receive further instruction. Please include in your email some detail concerning what you experienced while sitting and write out any questions that came up. Your email will be answered by a Dharma Teacher or practice advisor in residence at Dainen-ji and this will be the beginning of an exchange for the purpose of clarifying your understanding of Zen practice so that you can eventually apply as a public student of Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi's Lineage. When you write, please also include answers to the following questions:
- Your full name.
- A telephone number and area code so that we can contact you if there is a lapse in communication due to computer or server problems.
- Where are you writing from? (This will help us to determine the kind of resources we can make available to you).
- What is your age?
- Do you have the flexibility to sit on a cushion with your knees contacting the floor for half an hour without moving?
- Do you have a zafu (a round sitting cushion designed specifically for sitting in zazen)? If not, what do you use instead?
- Please let us know if you have previous experience of Zen practice or another form of Buddhism. If you are currently studying with another Teacher you must inform your Teacher of your request to receive instruction from us and let us know that you have done that.
After corresponding for a period of time to clarify your understanding of the practice, the Teacher or practice advisor you are corresponding with will invite you to apply as a "public student" (a student who lives outside of commuting distance). The application process will be explained by email.
There is no financial contribution expected for preliminary instruction (instruction received prior to applying as, and being accepted as a student), although any contributions are welcome. Once accepted there is the expectation that students will make a monthly financial contribution as they receive ongoing instruction and make more use of resources available. The Administrative Council posts information on suggested contributions.
Commitment as a Public Student
Beginning students are required to sit a minimum of a full 30 minutes once a week, in order to receive instruction. We encourage everyone to sit every day, but the Roshi and Practice Council recognizes that people have many tasks and responsibilities and may not have time to do so and it is not a problem if they do not sit every day. But you must establish a minimum of a weekly half-hour sitting practice which we refer to as a "committed sitting". That half-hour committed sitting must take place on the same day of each week and at the same time. So, if you decide that your committed sitting will take place on Wednesday morning at 7:00, then it is every Wednesday morning at 7:00. We sit in 30 minute rounds (not more, not less) timed with a clock. If you decide that you wish to sit more than one round, please end the first round at 30 minutes and then do five or ten minutes of kinhin (slow walking) before beginning another round.
Ongoing instruction is provided by email. After completing your committed sitting each week, send a “practice journal” to the monastery, a written description of what you experienced while sitting. If you are using someone else's computer, please set up your own email account for this purpose as no one else should be reading correspondence between yourself and a Teacher or practice advisor.
Resources for Public Students
The "eMirror" is a free, electronic newsletter of the White Wind Zen Community, published in HTML format and emailed out every Friday. Each issue is illustrated and includes quotations from teisho and information about our schedule and activities. You can subscribe to the eMirror here.
In addition to thousands of pages of text posted on this Website, there is a list of publications available through Great Matter Publications. "The Straight Path: Zen Teachings on the Foundations of Mindfulness" is recommended reading for beginning students.
White Wind Media Site
Once accepted as a Sangha member, students are given a password to access the monastery Media Site, which contains a collection of thousands MP3 files of recorded Dharma Talks, teisho, readings and classes presented by Zen Master Anzan Hoshin, Dharma Talks presented by Teachers and Dharma Talks presented by practice advisors.
The format used for a home retreat is very similar to that used for retreats at the monastery, with instruction provided beforehand in how to structure the day and the use of forms
Further Suggested Reading List
- Beginner's Mind Workshop presented by Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi
- Entering the Gates of Practice by the Practice Council
- The Posture of Zazen presented by Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi
- Begin Here: Five Styles of Zen presented by Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi
- The Posture of Practice presented by Ven. Shikai Zuiko O-sensei
- The Touchstone presented by Ven. Jinmyo Renge sensei
For further information please use the contact form.