Awake Monthly Practices



JULY PRACTICE: 7, 8 & 9-- Not Praising Self, Not Being Avaricious & Not Harboring Ill-Will


1: Using the dyad exercise from our Saturday Precepts Meeting, formulate a practice you would like to do for the month of July around one of these three precepts. Be as clear and precise as possible how you're going to do the practice.

DUE: by this coming Tuesday, 7/16

1: Write-up of your practice to Rev. Liên and cohort by NEXT Tuesday, 7/16. Be prepared to share this at the__(TBD: 7/23 or 7/24)_ Zoom Meeting. 

2: IF you have not done so yet, share on our Google-Group listserv your revised 16 Bodhisattva Precepts

Practice EXAMPLES:

Kaizan's Practice: Precepts 7 & 8 — Competitiveness and being avaricious (of anything)

Every now and then, at work, the thought, "I need to stay ahead of the pack" arises. I’ve observed that this comes up when other members of the team present what they have been working on, especially when it is a "surprise" (e.g., "I've been tinkering with some thing recently, and let me show you this cool thing I came up with"). When such a thought arises, my past tendencies have been to try to come up with something of my own that I can "claim as my own cool thing", and then present it to the group with the hope of garnering awe and respect.

In the process of trying to do that, I may end up working on something in secret, and if someone happens to mention something that sounds similar to what I'm working on, to either try to talk them down so that they don't "interfere" with my claimed stake, or to get ahead of them and make it clear that I have been working on it already to make sure I can claim to be the "originator" of the idea.

As a practice, when I find myself in such a situation, I will:

  • Note the physical sensation (increased heart beat, tightness around chest and neck), and take three deep breaths.

  • Note the emotion (envy, greed, fear, ill-will, offended)

  • Investigate where the emotion is coming from and whether (envy -- "I want the recognition that s/he is getting", greed -- "I want to be recognized/respected", fear -- "I'm going to be less significant/needed", ill-will -- "I don't want that person to succeed", offended -- "I'm not being heard and someone else is")

  • Ask myself if it is useful to react to my emotion with my habitual pattern.

  • If not, use wisdom and curiosity to look at what alternate responses may be more useful (e.g., when someone mentions an idea that is similar to mine, I will say "I really like that idea" or "I think that's a great idea" first, and then if I've already been working on it, say "I've also been looking into a similar idea" instead of "I've actually been working on the same idea" to focus on collaboration rather than attempting to take back ownership of the idea.)

  • After choosing and enacting a response, note the physical sensation and emotions, and see if I feel more or less connected, grounded, and compassionate compared to before.

  • At the end of each day until the web meeting, I will write down above observations from the relevant incidents (if any) that day.

  • At the end of practice's duration, reflect on the notes and see if it reveals any insight into the causes and conditions of the triggering incidents and my responses.

Unsen's Practice : Precepts 9 — Not harboring ill-will (with self )

I have a tendency to second-guess my interactions with others, especially when the outcome is not to my liking. So whenever I find myself getting frustrated with myself and thinking I could have been/done better, for example, when I am aware of thoughts such as "Why did I not do/say/think ..... during the interaction or in the moment <<insert eye-roll and deep sigh>>". I will:

  • Determine where the sensation is in my body

  • Take time to characterize the sensation (hot/cold, weight etc)

  • Determine what stories I have associated that incident

  • Practice equanimity with this phrase: "May I accept myself/things as I am/they are"

  • Bow quietly to myself

  • Practice metta to myself with this statement, "May I be kind with myself by accepting that I, like many others, feel frustrated even though I know I can't change the past or prepare for every future conversation."

  • Reflect on observations at end of duration.


JUNE PRACTICE:  Maintaining Clear Mind & Awareness of Fault Finding

Audio of teachings from Saturday’s in-person meeting

Brief verbal instructions for the Precepts-to-Precepts (P2P) practice for this month


Please write down precepts statements, relating each of the precept to the other 9 Grave Precepts.  --- See attached documents for examples from 2 past TA’s: Kaizan and Unsen.  Also there's a GRID you can use for this exercise (see below) IF it’s helpful to you (ie: the grid format is NOT required)

  • Keep the relating short; in one sentence. You should end up with 81 sentences/statements.

Exercise Assistance:  If applying one precept to another precept is difficult for you to distinguish, using the “key,” “aspiration,” and/or “inspiration” on each of the related precept in Huber’s precepts grid (found in the A2Z digital Precepts reading packet). Then, keep using this “key,” “aspiration,” and/or “inspiration” as a basis, framing your statement from one of that points/“lens.”

You can, of course, use your own “key,” “aspiration,” and/or “inspiration.”

DUE:      Wednesday, June 18; one week BEFORE the Web Meeting on Tuesday, 6/25. Please send to our Google Group email

At the Web Meeting on June 25, please be prepared to share with us:

  • How this exercise helped clarify how the precepts are inter-related

  • How this exercise helps your to differentiate between them (e.g.: between the speech-related ones)

  • What came up in framing them as negative or positive statements/precepts/practices

  • Other aspects

Here is a template  of a grid which Keizen developed that you can use for inputting your P2P:  Grid

Kaizan's Examples

Unsen's Examples

MAY PRACTICE:  Not Misusing Sexuality & Not Lying

Using the  reflections you wrote down on these two topics, this month's readings, the teachings, and your small group exercise from the May 11 Precepts Meeting, please do BOTH of these:

  1. Please come up with an awareness practice you would like to do this month around either or both of the precepts.

  2. Reflect on how these 2 precepts can be connected.

  • Example: When I realized I was queer, I had only heard of it as “gross” so I hid my sexuality thru

    • lying by omission; staying silent when co-workers talk about what they did over the weekend with their opposite gender partners OR

    • lying directly by substituting the pronoun “he” for “she” when talking about the weekend.

Write-Up of you PRACTICE is DUE Tuesday, May 14th; on Awake Google Group listserv


Way-Seeking Mind Talks Schedule:

  • May 20:  Yunnie, Peter, Suzanne, Sandy

  • June 3: Francis, Ali, Tamaron

APRIL PRACTICE:  Taking Our Practice of Not Killing and/or Not Stealing into the World

Last month, we focused on how to support our own, individual practice at home or other settings such as work. This month, we enact our commitment and inspiration that OUR PRACTICE IS FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL BEINGS.

Therefore, find a COMMUNITY or WORLD-BASED activity you will do for the month of April which will assist you to practice with the Grave Precepts of Not Killing and/or Not Stealing.

Here’s an example from a past student, Unsen:

DUE by Tuesday, 4/16 by 5 p.m.  Write-up of your month's practice action. Please share with Rev. Liên and group.

NOTES to support how to frame your practice for the month (based on the teachings on 3 ways to practice with the Precepts)

Restraint / Container --  on Intentions/Values. PURPOSE

  • Start with figuring out what the PURPOSE you want to address. Cheri Huber's grid on the precepts is especially useful here. For instance, around Not-Killing, is your focus in doing the practice around "Gratitude" or more on "Non-Separation."

Mindfulness / Cultivation with Aware Action(s). FOCUS to see PURPOSE

  • Formulate a practice which is as CLEAR and SPECIFIC as possible on how you're going to ENACT (AND know how you can ACHIEVE) it. --- Clear and specific frame for how you can CONSCIOUSLY ENACT / MINDFULLY DO the practice.

Awakened/Buddha Nature. Non-Separation.  PURPOSE & FOCUS are integrated

  • This is probably not an easy factor to "measure;" especially by yourself. It MAY be more easily "measurable" by those around you. Or at a later time. :)


Two more resources which may be useful to you all around the precepts of Not-Stealing. With yesterday's discussion, specially pertinent may be Stephanie Kaza's piece which addresses how our efforts in activism CAN become based on greed!

MARCH PRACTICE:  Actualizing The 3 Pure Precepts Through Ritual

Audio from 2017 Awake. Some more, some less details than this year's meeting. And, only one TA's sharing; Unsen from the 2016 Jukai cohort. Mentioned in audio and here's the written of Boundless Way Zen'sversion, :

Three Tenets of a Zen Peacemaker

Taking refuge and entering the stream of Engaged Spirituality, I vow to live a life of:

  • Not-knowing, thereby giving up fixed ideas about myself and the universe.

  • Bearing witness to the joy and suffering of the world.

  • Healing myself and others.

* Looks like they are NOT associated with Bernie Glassman. James Ishamel Ford "peacemakers" are different....? And, I couldn't find the web link I had before (in 2008; Did find this link but not to a specific site for "Boundless Way Zen". If you do, lmk!

Glassman's Peacemaker's Order's 3rd Tenet is a bit different (w/ link):  "Taking action that arise from Not-Knowing and Bearing Witness"

EXERCISE Summary & Support Questions for Reflection:

Rituals are ways to mark events in our lives: births, commitments, funerals, etc. AND, they can also be tools to help us see how we are in relation to our intentions and commitments. The last two months of practices helped you to clarify your commitment to practice; essentially, to your commitment to examining how you frame and hold your values currently in your life. The Awake Program is a container for this. Now it's time for you to find a way to form a container to support your home practice before we "plunge" yourselves into the 10 Grave Precepts.

You are being asked to do this thru making and enacting a ritual at home. You were offered 3 Zen forms (altar set-up, Enmei Jukku/Well-being chanting, & bowing). Please choose one of these forms or one that comes from a childhood, family, or cultural event.

To support you to do this, here are some reflections:

  • How can an INTENTION in your practice be supported by a ritual to focus your attention when you practice at home? --- Would chanting before or after your meditation help to give more energy or as a marking for it? Would an altar help you to finally have a designated space for your meditation/practice?

  • Any past experiences that get in the way/brings up contractions? What’s the base on the resistance? For example: Felt misguided. Lacked sincerity. Didn’t see point.

  • If so, what’s important to you NOW that you want to enact or embody a sense of reverence, awe, or respect as a support to your practice this month?

  • For instance, in the above examples:

    • Felt misguided: How can your ritual be more to the point for you?

    • Lacked sincerity: How to bring in/back sincerity of intention (like Kaizan’s example w/ the water offering)

    • Didn’t see point: How can you set up a ritual which matches your current intention/what’s important to you now?

DUE Tuesday, March 12th:

  • Send a description of what your ritual is to Rev. Liên and cohort thru the Google Groups email address.

  • If resistance comes up, please continue to DO the practice for some time before stopping, bringing awareness to the resistance (&, as always, not just the thoughts of resistance —- What about sensations? Emotion?).

*** Sending A PICTURE of your altar (if you’re doing one) to share has been inspiring & fun for past cohorts; whenever it's done (ie: not necessarily by Tuesday, 3/13)  --- If you already have an altar, please incorporate another ritual!

Present & talk about your ritual practice during Web-meeting: Tuesday, March 26




Buddham Saranam Gacchâmi
Dhammam Saranam Gacchâmi
Sangham Saranam Gacchâmi

Dutiyampi Buddham Saranam Gacchâmi
Dutiyampi Dhammam Saranam Gacchâmi
Dutiyampi Sangham Saranam Gacchâmi

Tatiyampi Buddham Saranarn Gacchâmi
Tatiyampi Dhammam Saranam Gacchâmi
Tatiyampi Sangham Saranam Gacchâmi


  1. Write down some words which comes up for you upon hearing these words Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

  2. Which of these qualities do you want to have more (or know better/more) this month?

Using what arose from the discussion from the exercise during the Precepts Meeting, how can you take refuge in or "go-to" the Buddha, Dharma or Sangha to help you with your everyday challenges this month? Formulate your own practice to support you to do so.

 Another way to frame it is:

What practice could help you use your current EXTERNAL understanding of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha to help you to INTERNALIZE the qualities you associate with one of the three Refuges?

If you’re finding it challenging to identify the qualities for each (B/D/S):

  • What images or feelings does the word "refuge" evoke for you, both as a noun and as a verb "to take refuge in/go to"?

  • What places or situations do you currently consider your refuge/”shelter”?

  • How might your answers be when applied to Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha?

  • When you think of the 3 Refuges, which one do you naturally feel would help you find a way to entrust/engage/enact qualities (such as, lovingkindness or gratitude) in your everyday challenges?

Write-up of practice is due BEFORE Monday, February 26

  • Email to everyone at the 2019 Awake Google Group email.

    • Be as specific as you can the steps of your personal practice.

    • Emailing me a DRAFT of your practice at least a week BEFORE and/or bringing it up in your Feb. PD is recommended. So we can work out the details of your practice before you start engaging with it.

  • Be prepared to present it and talk about how the practice went for you this month at our web-meeting.

A few points for reflections as you practice:

  • How is it effecting/has it effected my interactions with ___(person/situation/myself)___?

  • How are my values manifested when I apply these qualities in this/these ___x___ way(s)?

Next Zoom Meeting: Tuesday, February 26, 6 pm

JANUARY PRACTICE: Vowing as engaging with your deepest intentions

Intentions + Attention = Integrity

Writing the 16 Bodhisattva Precepts in your own words:

Using the January readings and the lists of precepts in the A2Z Precepts Packet, write the 16 Bodhisattva in your own words. 

Here’s an example: (Note: I included different wordings —- including negative/positive — to give you a sense of variations. Yours should be just ONE SENTENCE each)

3 Refuges                                                            3 Pure Precepts                       

  • I take refuge in the Buddha.                        I vow to refrain from harming.

  • I take refuge in the Dharma.                        I vow to make every effort to enact kindness.

  • I take refuge in the Sangha.                        I vow to live and be lived for the benefit of all beings.

10 Values-Enacting / “Grave” Precepts

  • I vow not to harm.

  • I vow not to live from the fear of lack and, therefore, taking what is not given.

  • I vow not to misuse sexuality.

  • I vow to speak from honesty.

  • I vow not to cloud mind-heart of self and others.

  • I vow not to slander.

  • I vow not to speak from competitiveness.

  • I vow to live sharing all I materially and spiritually have.

  • I vow to look deeply when anger & ill-will arises.

  • I vow not to disparage the Three Treasures.

DUE: Monday, Jan. 21 (1 day BEFORE the Tuesday, Jan. 23rd Web/Zoom-meeting)

Email to the Awake group’s Gmail address so everyone gets it. Be prepare to present it and talk about it during that meeting
Just give it your best try until then. The meeting IS to discuss challenges and insights during the process of formulating your first version of the 16 Precepts.

Other Support Materials:

Here again, are the questions from the Saturday Precepts meeting as they may be a guide to framing the 16 Precepts in your own words; in a way that resonates with what’s important to/for you:

  • What’s your earliest intention/motivation/vow you made that you can remember? How has it influence or had some resonance/impact on your values now? Has it developed into a main/central intention?
    E.g: Rev. Liên, in Egypt at 10 or 11 years old, seeing how badly treated mules pulling trash carts were, wished not to come back as a mule! …. Seeing the suffering of the animals thru beatings, resulted in a firm conviction to help/assist/alleviate suffering. Non-harming.

  • Is the INTENTION above a constant/steadfast/pervasion/guiding one in your life?

  • What’s a GUIDING intention/principle for you NOW? For the next 8-9 months, what a guiding VALUE for your practice? Not so much a “task” or “precept-ish;” more a QUALITY which you want to guide you this period/year?
    In the mule example above, the wish “to save beings” became, in a personal/interpersonal way, as acting with Kindness.

    • How might it inform/guide your precepts studies/practice this year?

Suzuki Roshi Dharma talks transcripts on the Precepts:

These 2 live-stream talks from past years' Jukai ceremonies: