Awake-in-Life: Zen & Crafting a Life Fully Lived

8+ months Practice Program for Householders: January - August 2019**

Access to Zen (A2Z) invites you to participate in a program which emphasizes practices geared especially for those who live and work outside of temple or monastic settings! This program will give you the container in which to frame how you can live fully, manifesting and sharing what’s important to you with your loved ones, your community, and the planet.

How it’s geared for you

Currently, most United States practice programs have generally emphasized meditation to practitioners. This may be due to how Zen has been promoted in Western convert practice settings. It’s been a very useful way. Yet, now, with the maturing of practices in the US, it’s time to reclaim how the laity — called “householders” in the Buddha’s time — was a large and important aspect of Buddhism and Buddhist practices.

Therefore, the revitalizing of this term for the laity is fitting in our current times as we seek to make accessible the teachings and practices which traditionally have been offered first and foremost to ALL practitioners: studies and engagement with the precepts.

Awake-in-Life Mission

The program’s name both reflects the layering of our conditioning and the focus of the Program’s Path. First, the name shows how we may typically think the Program can help us to “awake in life”—and, therefore, that somehow we need to “awake” into a “different” or a “better” life.

Zen is a Mahayana path; hence, “awake-in”—we are already whole and complete; fully Awake-in-our-Life-already. Therefore, this program’s focus is to help you to know this truth; this is the “Awakening”— “Awake-in” reflects the Bodhisattva Ideal: may each of us know our awake-in-ness; and may we know this in everyone, also.

Awake-in-Life 16 Bodhisattva Precepts are: (Rev. Liên own wording. More traditional ones can be find on the web)

  • 3 Refuges — Exploring how to know & be in: Awareness/Buddha, Teachings/Dharma, & Community/Sangha

  • 3 Over-Arching Aspirations — To not engage in harm. To promote life-affirming practices & actions. To know for myself, & with others, our interconnectedness.

  • 10 Guiding Values —- Living to realize & promote: life; contentment; love/connection; honesty; clear-heart & mind; kind speech; equity/non-competitiveness; sharing & receiving; openness of mind-heart; and non-separation/interconnectedness.

These are essentially a set of values which, in the engagement with them, acts as guides for us to see how we can live more fully.

We are pleased to make the studies of the precepts / values-enactments more accessible with the Awake-in-Life Program by offering 2 tracks: 

  • Engaged-Studies or Jukai (Lay Initiation/Ordination Ceremony). Each will have different requirements and sliding donations and costs.

    • ** Fully On-Line participation is possible

The idea for the  two tracks came about because study with the Precepts is a core of the practice yet it isn't emphasized in the West very much. Yet, a main intention of the Precepts is to give practitioners a framework to engage in harmony with oneself and with others, then it becomes much easier to bring one's full attention to the craft of meditation "on the cushion." Engagement with the Precepts is a healing and transformative practice when done in conjunction with meditative practices.

The Awake-in-Life Program offers us a chance to bring practice into our whole being, our whole life --- on and off the cushion.

Awake Program's  tracks requirements (w/ dates & times):

  • BOTH tracks INFO:

    • Engaging with the Soto Zen 16 Bodhisattva Precepts as a study thru Dharma talks, readings, reflections and discussions.

      • 2 meetings per month in Downtown SF: One 2-hour in-person** with the full cohort & one 1-hour on-line small group (via Zoom) (Usually on the 2nd Saturdays mornings and 4th Tuesday evening each month for 1-hour)

        • 2nd Saturdays, 11:30 -1:30: Jan. 5 (first Saturday), Feb. 9, March 9, April 13, May 11 or May 18 (3rd Saturday), June 8, July 13, and Aug. 10

        • 4th Tuesdays, 6 - 7 p.m.: Jan. 22, Feb. 26, March 26, April 23, May 28, June 25, and July 23

    • Reading/Study materials: Access to Zen Precepts Readings packet provided. 4 precepts books (not included)

    • Online access to Monthly practices, Dharma talks, and other resources to support the application of the Precepts in your daily life -- in reflection and/or as an awareness/mindfulness exercises

    • Monthly individual Practice Discussion (PD) with our Guiding Teacher

    • Access to A2Z’s weekly Meditation Group in downtown Oakland (with Zoom access)

    • Sangha-Determined Sliding-Scale Fee:

      • Pay-it-Forward (PiF): (more than $75K): $270 /month

      • Standard (S): (between $35 -$75K): $220/month

      • Limited Income (LI): (less than $35K): $175/month

      • No one turned away due to economic hardship. Limited partial scholarships available. As dana is mutuality, please note that everyone will be asked to make a contribution. Feel free to discuss with Rev. Liên

      • In the spirit of economic transparency, please note you’ll be asked to share with the formed group this information at our first meeting on Jan. 5

      • Cash or check accepted. PayPal payments preferred. Please sent to:

    • ** Fully On-Line participation possible (Engaged-Studies track only). Same sliding-scale fee

  • ENGAGED-STUDIES Track Specifics: 8 months, January - August, 2019

    • Commitment to being guided in your practice by Rev. Liên for the duration of the program

    • 8 months commitment to the Awake sangha (community of practitioners)

    • Committing to having a home meditation/zazen practice and attending three (3) one-day silent meditation retreats within the 8-month Awake time period

  • JUKAI (Lay Initiation/Vowing Ceremony) Track Specifics: 9+ months (January - August with Awake cohort. Date to ceremony is dependent on sewing & when ceremony date is available; TBD by Guiding Teacher & individual student)

    • Commitment to Rev. Liên as your Dharma teacher AND to continuing a similar practice schedule for 2+ years after Awake Program

    • 9+ months: Beginning with the January - August studies above. Then, monthly PDs with Guiding Teacher until Jukai (Soto Zen Lay Initiation/Vowing ) Ceremony. --- Date TBD on individual basis with Guiding Teacher. From September 2019 on, monthly meditation group & PDs fee follows standard A2Z structure

    • Committing to having a home meditation/zazen practice, attending three (3) one-day silent meditation retreats within the 8-month Awake time period, and a minimum of one 3+day silent retreat/sesshin before Jukai date

    • Sewing a lay rakusu before Jukai date (involves additional costs and time to a Soto Zen sewing program; several in the Bay Area)

Questions? Email us at

Ready to sign up? Please REGISTER by Wednesday, Dec. 26

PayPal payments preferred:

Name *
Track *
Select which track would you be joining.

** Fully Online possible for Engaged Studies track only. Please come to the Orientation or contact us at if you have specific questions