Autumn Practice Period 2023

Deepening our practice within Sangha

Saturday 6 May to Saturday 24 June

Contents on this page

Throughout the whole period

Week-by-week Calendar

Vimalakirti Sutra – and practice prompts

Guidelines for small practice groups

Dokusan with Kirk



Throughout the whole period

Monday to Friday sits online, 6:25am to 7am
Monday and Wednesday online 8:55am to 9:30
Link to Morning Sit Zoom Zendo – password ‘zazen’

Saturday sits at CERES and online, 10am to 12pm
Link to Saturday Zoom Zendo – password ‘zazen’

Tuesday sits at CERES and online, 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Link to Tuesday Zoom Zendo – password ‘zazen’

Small Practice Groups – meet weekly or fortnightly in a small group, to share from your practice and support each other. Liaise with your group to find a time to meet. Further information about the small practice groups.

Dokusan with Kirk – opportunities to speak privately about your practice with Kirk, the guiding teacher for this Practice Period. Further information about dokusan.

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Week-by-week calendar

27 May – Saturday 10am to 1pm
Zazenkai with teisho (Dharma talk)
CERES and online – Link to Saturday Zoom Zendo – password ‘zazen’

2 June – Friday online 6:30pm to 8pm
Full moon precepts zazenkai
Link to Tuesday Zoom Zendo – password ‘zazen’

4 June – Sunday 4pm to 5pm
Autumn Practice Period group convenes online
Link to Morning Sit Zoom Zendo – password ‘zazen’

16 to 18 June – Hobart Zen Zazenkai
Kirk will teach at this Hobart zazenaki, from Friday evening to Sunday, continuing to explore the Vimalakirti sutra.

Saturday 17 June teisho will be streamed online at 1:30pm

Sunday 18 June teisho will be streamed online at 1pm

Online links will be included here when they are available

If you are interested in attending this zazenkai onsite in Hobart, as an interstate participant, please contact for times and costs.

24 June – Saturday 10am to 1pm
Close of Autumn Practice Period
as part of Saturday zazenkai
CERES and online – Link to Saturday Zoom Zendo – password ‘zazen’

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Vimalikirti Sutra & Practice Prompts

Download the Vimalakirti Sutra

Talks by Joan Sutherland on the Vimalakirti Sutra
(audio and pdf – located part-way down page)

Michael Owens on Meditating with Sutras
(audio – considers the Vimalakirti sutra)

Monday 5 June – Each branch of coral holds up the moon

If you find yourself wondering if your practice is good enough, or giving good results, that’s quite natural. We don’t have to be a particular kind of person, or attain a certain kind of wisdom. 

In the koan by Pa-ling Hao-chien, he draws on the image of a coral reef. Here where I am this week, coral reefs aren’t necessarily far away from shore, or deep in the depths. We can wade out and find them. And each branch is different, each holds its own practice. These branches hold up the moon. I explore this a bit in the video.

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Monday 29 May – Trust your life

We now find ourselves in the 4th week of the practice period. We may find we have some judgements about how we are going. None of the faults or praises we make are what’s most important, though: 

“you’re good…” 
“you aren’t doing well…” 
“it’s always this way…”

Just showing up is what is important. Vimalakirti said, “Trust the world you find yourself in.” It’s not the formula you follow, or your expectations that are important.

Linji said, “Whatever confronts you, don’t believe it. Have faith in this light that is always functioning in you.”

Trust this life. There is no liberation without you, this moment, just as you are. Trust your life.

I go into this a little bit more in the video:

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Saturday 27 May – Kirk’s zazenkai teisho on the Vimalakirti sutra

Monday 22 May – Invitation to experiment with freedom and delight

This week is an invitation to an experiment. It’s an experiment of committing to the body of freedom, and the invitation to surprise and curiosity that comes when we let go. 

What does it mean to commit to who you are before your opinions, and beyond your judgement? To invest in the dharma, and not what we expect? 

This video will take you further into this, and we’ll explore this in the teisho on Saturday 27 May.

If you’re interested in further reading on the sutra, two books that Kirk recommends are:

Vimalakirti and the awakened heart: a commentary on the sutra that Vimalakirti speaks, by Joan Sutherland

Living skilfully: Buddhist philosophy of life from the Vimalakirti sutra, by Dale S. Wright (thanks for the recommendation from Eben)

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Monday 15 May – Vimalakirti’s room, How do we live?

The Vimalakirti story is about two things. First, how do we create a warm and curious mind, even in the midst of the pains and fires of the world?

Secondly, as this begins to happen, in small or big ways, then how do we live? Sometimes, as we free ourselves, we will see that our freedom is part of the world around us. What then?

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Guidelines for small practice groups

The small practice groups are a central place to share your experience as you go through the practice period. 

Each practice group will decide how often to meet (weekly or fortnightly), and the duration of each meeting.

We expect small group meetings to be online, but if your group would like to meet face to face, you are welcome to explore in your group whether that is possible.

Small group general guidelines

Start each meeting with a brief sharing, by each member, on what they’re noticing in their practice, or their response to the prompts from Kirk on the Vimalakirti Sutra.

Use Gassho to signal that’s you’d like to speak, or have finished speaking, like dharma sharing. Others just listen during this initial round of sharing.

Once everyone has had a chance to speak, there’s space for more free flowing interaction.

Reminder of general principles we use in dharma sharing:

Speak from your own experience and from the heart.

Listen deeply.

When responding to others: try to speak from your resonance with what someone said (what it brings up in you) rather than interpreting or analysing their contribution, or giving unsolicited advice.

If someone does seem to want advice from the group, or asks a question to the group, name this with them explicitly, including the kind of response they want.

Confidentiality: keep what is shared in the small group, within that group.

Download a pdf of the guidelines

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Dokusan with Kirk

Dokusan is an optional opportunity to speak privately about your practice with Kirk, the guiding teacher for this Practice Period.

Kirk will offer dokusan, on site at CERES, on Saturday 27 May (10am to 12pm) and Tuesday 13 June (6:30pm to 8:30pm). You don’t need to book for dokusan at CERES – just make sure you attend the sit, on site at CERES, on the given days.

Kirk will also offer phone dokusan on Thursday mornings, throughout the practice period, from 7:30 to 8:30am. 

To book a Thursday morning phone dokusan place with Kirk, email by Wednesday morning – making sure you include the phone number you’d like to be called on for dokusan. Kirk will get back to you, by Wednesday evening, with your dokusan time.

When you do phone dokusan, make sure you are in a private place and ensure you sit zazen for at least 30 minutes before your time.

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Dana and ‘bowl money’

Teaching is offered as dana, mutual generosity. To support Kirk as guiding teacher for the practice period, you can offer dana to Kirk’s account: 

E. Kirk Fisher
Bendigo Bank
Acc: 123399107. 

You are also invited to offer bowl money contributions to the MZG, to help cover costs such as our Zoom subscription, CERES fees, and other group overheads. Our usual recommendation for bowl money contributions, for people who attend our weekly sits, is $5 per week or $3 concession. Across the 7 weeks of the Practice Period, this would work out as $35 or $21.

Bowl money can be offered in the bowl put out at CERES sits, or deposited directly into the MZG bank account. Please use the reference bowl money if you make a deposit into the account.

Melbourne Zen Group
Westpac Bank
BSB: 033157
Acc: 169905

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Contact Emma and Kirk at

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