Enlightenment: Work, Wake, Stay Woke!

Rohatsu Sesshin 2018 

(Commemorating Buddha’s Enlightenment Day) 


Monday Evening                      

6:00 pm Community Dinner

7:30 pm Zazen (Seated Meditation)

8:10 pm Opening Talk

8:30 pm Kinhin (Slow Walking Meditation)

8:40 pm Zazen

8:50 pm Four Vows Chant

8:55 pm Sleep

Tuesday – Friday                     

5:15 am Wake up

5:30 am Zazen

6:05 am Kinhin

6:15 am Zazen

6:45 am Morning Service/ Chanting

7:00 am Morning Meal /Rest

8:45 am Work Practice

10:30 am Clean up

11:00 am Zazen

11:30 am Kinhin

11:40 am Zazen

12:10 pm Kinhin

12:20 pm Zazen

12:50 pm Service Chanting

1:05 pm Noon Meal, Rest

2:45 pm Zazen

3:15 pm Dharma Talk: Tues./Thurs.  Dokusan: Wed./Fri.

4:15 pm Tea Time / Break

4:45 pm Zazen

5:15 pm Kinhin

5:25 pm Zazen

6:10 pm Service / Chanting

6:00 pm Evening Meal, Rest

7:30 pm Zazen

8:10 pm Kinhin

8:20 pm Zazen

8:50 pm Evening Chanting

8:55 pm Sleep


5:15 am - 12:20 pm (Same as above)

12:20 pm Closing Dharma Talk

1:20 pm Community Lunch

3:00 pm Retreat ends

Notes on our Theme…

A Brief History Of Enlightenment:

Walking Around the World to Get Across the Street.

The essence of Zen is form. The essence of Zen practice is adherence to form. The essence of form is emptiness. The essence of emptiness is freedom.

How to transmit this? How to comprehend this? That is the task at-hand every time we sit down to meditate.

The historical Buddha was not the first.

The honorific title “Buddha” denotes an awakened human being. Seven ancestors preceded him, their names recorded and chanted throughout the Buddhist world to this very day… probably this very moment.

Before those seven, there were surely more and afterwards there have been many others.

It is a lineage.

Teacher to student the practice has been handed down as an art, a science, a practice, a philosophy, a psychology, a committed discipline and a dedication of one’s life… to free oneself of greed, anger and delusion, to cultivate joyfulness in the heart, wisdom in the mind, and both peace and fearlessness in the human spirit.

Enlightenment is our birthright.

Yet, it is rare.

Rarer still are gifted teachers.

It was the historical Buddha’s genius at teaching over 2,500 years ago in India that created the body of human spiritual wisdom that became known as Buddhism… The Way, The Path, The Tao of awakening.

In the early 5th century, the monk Bodhidharma, brought these teachings directly from India to China, where, over the next few hundreds of years, they spread, integrated and deepened throughout the culture of the empire, flourishing as Chan.

The teachings then permeated Southeast Asia, blossoming into a golden age of wisdom and compassion throughout the East, 500 years before the birth of Christ.

Such is the power of the teachings.

Yet, as you may know, power can corrupt, anytime, anywhere.

In 1223, the Japanese monk, Eihei Dogen, traveled to China to seek out a purer, more authentic Buddhism. He stayed for five years. Upon his enlightenment, he returned to Japan, promoting a meditation practice called Zazen, “just sitting,” or as we know it now… Zen.

Upon his return, after the usual challenges that follow speaking truth to power, he retreated to the high mountains of Japan and quietly founded a new monastery called Eihei-ji. Eiheiji, along with his disciple’s temple, Sojiji, remain to this very day, the two headquarters for Zen in Japan and the world.

In the early 5th century, the monk Bodhidharma, brought these teachings directly from India to China, where, over the next few hundreds of years, they spread, integrated and deepened into the core culture of the empire, flourishing as Chan.

In China and Japan, all new monks are asked the question, “Why did Bodhidharma come from the West?” From the West? For those of us in the West…it came from the East. Point of view is everything.

Why did Bodhidharma come from the West? From the West? To the West? Point of view is everything.

Buddhism first touched the West, in Europe and the Americas in the 1920s and 30s. It appeared as a colonial artistic influence and fascination with an exotic “other” that has since become known as Orientalist. All those Chinese lacquer screens, Japanese wood block prints, tea ceremony, the Tao.

It began to sink in less abstractly with the writings of D.T. Suzuki in the 1940s and 50s. Then, through the work of Alan Watts and a panoply of hip poets in the United States, it rooted itself deeply into the spirit of American intellectuals, artists, and beatniks.

Japanese Soto Zen priests had already been coming to the West for decades. They came to serve Japanese immigrant populations in Hawaii, South America and California.

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, founder of the San Francisco Zen Center and figurehead of the great Zen wave that broke across America is the 60s and 70s, was just another humble Japanese monk tending to a small mission of expats in San Francisco, when, out of nowhere, long-haired, counter-cultural hippies began to show up at their Zendo, asking to learn meditation.

Time takes time.

It took hundreds of years of cross-pollination between India and China, between China and Japan for Zen to be fully integrated into the whole of each country’s culture.

Even now, with all our breaking news communication technology, it will still take time, old-fashioned time, daily dawn to daily dusk time, moment-by-moment time, before Zen can fully flourish in the West.

It is not just about information… about reading and studying books and mastering ancient sutras, calligraphy, tea ceremony or chants. It is about the cultivation of simple intention, the slow blossoming of insight, the subtle tuning of our awareness towards intuition, the humble questioning of our intention, a vulnerable opening to the unknown…all of this…ancient, modern, true…can only become visible through training with forms.

“If you use your mind to study reality, you won't understand either your mind or reality. If you study reality without using your mind, you'll understand both.” Bohdidharma

How does one study reality without using the mind?

That is the task at-hand every time we sit down to meditate.

That is the invitation.

Come join us.

Ann Myosho Kyle Brown

 A few notes about Rohatsu Sesshin:

Cost: Everything is offered freely. Still donations allow us to do so. There will be a donation bowl on the bench at the right of the entry in the Zendo. Please place your contribution for the retreat there. Thank you.

Meals: All meals are vegetarian. If you wish to join us please make a commitment and a contribution. Basic cost is about $7 per meal. (You wish you could dine with the Hardenburgs ardenburgsHat a restaurant for $7!) For the whole day of three meals, plus tea time, the cost is $25. There will be a donation basket on the desk at the entrance to the kitchen. Please place your contribution for your meal(s) there. Perhaps a tip for the Tenzos would be good idea too. Thank you. Enjoy!

Sesshin Schedule: We follow a precise schedule and ask all participants to arrive on time to all events. We welcome and encourage you to participate in the whole schedule, but understand that people work and have other obligations. Come for any part of it that fits into your life. But, please do not interrupt Zazen (sitting meditation.) Check the schedule. Arrive during Kinhin, or any other period but Zazen. If you do arrive during Zazen, sit on the bench in the Zendo entryway and wait for the bell to join us. Thank you.

See you next Monday! (Don’t forget to confirm if you are joining us for meals!)