Hey y'all, Ron & I returned from the May Genzo-e retreat at Sanshinji on Monday, so I wanted to share some of my impressions. He had the foresight to take some photos while we were there, so pester him to share them. Also, for Ron, please correct me as needed. :twisted: Thank you to those who posted encouragement before I left; I didn't check the forum at all on Tuesday, as I am a consummate procrastinator when it comes to packing.
The drive from my house to Sanshinji was surprisingly pleasant. I don't expect any interstate highway to be scenic, but I40 through the Smokey Mountains and parts of I75 were quite beautiful. I met Ron in Kentucky, and we drove the last two and half hours together. We know each other rather well, but it was great to be able to meet & converse in person.
We thought we were going to arrive early, but due to my not paying attention we wound up arriving with only about ten minutes to spare. I volunteered for doan duty, and attended a brief training session which left me feeling quite in over my head. :shock:
The schedule was, from my point of view, demanding but not impossibly so. Ron & I slept in the zendo, which was a cool feature of Sanshinji. You can pay for a room in their dormitory, of course, but sleeping in the zendo is free. We woke up about 0440 each day, to be on our cushions by 0505. There were a decent number of breaks, and two ninety minute lectures each day. Having said that, I was not at all used to the fifty-minute sitting periods. They got better as the days progressed, however, and by the end of the retreat I found myself sometimes enjoying them.
The focus of the Genzo-e retreat, as you may have read on the previous thread is study of the Shobogenzo. This session's topic was Raihai Tokuzui, translated as Getting the Marrow By Doing Obeisance. Okamura-sensei is an outstanding lecturer, to say the least. Using Stanley Weinstein's English translation as the base, he delved into the chapter using the original Japanese characters and the breadth of Buddhist lore.
I could describe in detail what an extraordinary person Okamura-sensei is. It will suffice to say that one rarely finds such a combinations of kindness, intelligence, humility, and dedication in a person.
There were about twenty people attending the retreat. Some were locals in Bloomington, but quite a few were from out of state or even out of country. There were a couple of folks from Minnesota, a group from Miami, and someone from Scotland.They were all quite dedicated, and unfailingly kind to me & Ron.
We had the happy coincidence of meeting a priest who sat with Jundo in Florida over a decade ago. She was an exceptional woman, and I was glad to have met her.
I'm sure there's more I could write, but I have to stop somewhere. There's another Genzo-e coming up in November, and I would recommend it to anyone looking to understand Dogen. The atmosphere at Sanshinji is so motivating that I would also recommend it anyone else. Although/but/however (Okamura-sensei says these are Dogen's favorite words), I am happy to be back with my sangha. Y'all sustain my daily practice, and for that I am grateful beyond words.
Thanks for reading; this may be my longest forum post to date.