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  1. #1



    Dear All,

    a re-MINDer that our ...

    Treeleaf Annual

    (Buddha's Enlightenment Day)

    ... is to be LIVE NETCAST on the weekend of Saturday & Sunday, December 9th and 10th, 2017. The retreat is designed to be sat in any time zone around the world through a combination of 'live-live' and 'live though recorded' segments, and one may still join the Retreat and sit-a-long at ANY AND ALL TIME after, by the real time recorded version (no different from the original!). Please have a look at the schedule on the "official" page (although the page will remain locked until near the Retreat start time) ...

    We hope that all of our Ango-ers and others will find a way to sit with us. Through a combination of live and "any time" recorded segments, the retreat is designed to be sat any where, in any time zone, even days or weeks later, when you can arrange your schedule. The method is that you can do some of the portions "live" in your time zone, others in recorded form, and thus it fits everyone's time zone even if slightly out of order (no need to stay up all night to stay on "Japan Time"). In other words, sometimes we do some sections in Japan or other countries while you are asleep, but then you can do them later (while we are asleep), and some sections we are all awake to do "live" ... and it all gets done in the end. Everyone has to do their own math to figure out which portions they can do live, which they will do as a recording (and in what order).

    The two days will include Zazen sitting, Kinhin, Chanting, Zazen sitting, Oryoki, Zazen sitting, Bowing, Talks, Zazen Sitting, 'Samu' Work Practice, and More Zazen Sitting, as in any Soto Zen Retreat, all in celebration of the Buddha's days of Zazen and Enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree. We also mark the Endless-End of our 90 Day Ango with this Retreat.

    If you are concerned about the length of sitting, please take to heart that such retreats ... of 2 or 3 days, a week or two weeks ... are basic and highly recommended in the Zen world, undertaken by just about every Zen Sangha I know. It is a practice not to be missed if at all possible for you.

    Information on the meaning of Rohatsu Retreat, and easy to follow instructions on arranging a quiet space in your home for sitting, are found at the following link. Also included are instructions on combining the Retreat with parenting and other responsibilities one may have. For further information on these and other topics, I ask all who are participating to DOWNLOAD AND REVIEW THIS GUIDE TO SITTING OUR ONLINE RETREAT LINK HERE (PDF)

    The accompanying CHANT BOOK IS HERE (PDF)

    * * *


    Below in this thread, we will provide various short lessons and tips to help you participate. Please review them between now and the days of the Retreat.

    First, the following video will explain a bit about how to make and dance with a simple, home Oryoki kit. All you need is:

    1 - Clean Pillow Case
    2 - Bowls and 1 Tea Cup (that fit into each other)
    1 - Cloth Napkin
    1 - Small Wiping Cloth
    1 - Table Spoon
    1 - Tea Spoon or Chop Sticks
    1 - Small Cut Piece of a New Sponge
    1 - Letter Envelope
    1 - A small dish on the side for the "Hungry Ghosts"

    Let's Get Ready to Rohatsu!

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-26-2017 at 03:26 PM.

  2. #2

    Let's look at Work Practice, Samu … which will be featured various periods during our Rohatsu Retreat.

    While Zazen is at the heart of our Way, other aspects of traditional Zen Practice are also "Zazen Off The Cushion" ... the vital and energetic non-doing of ‘Samu‘ traditional work practice is so.

    Samu is well described in this excerpt …

    Samu is manual work done with the same concentration as zazen. All masters of transmission, especially Master Hyakujo (720-814), have insisted on this. Even in his old age, Master Hyakujo worked every day in the field with his students. One day, they hid his tools, thinking that their master should spare himself. Hyakujo declared: "A day without working, a day without eating." And he stopped eating until his disciples gave him back his tools. 

    In zen, work has great value, because it allows us to practise the Way in action. In the dojo and during retreats (sesshins), zazen is followed by samu, which is when we do the chores to ensure the smooth functioning of communal life. Samu also means putting our efforts at the service of the community, without expecting anything in return. from Zen, by Bovay, Kaltenbach and De Smedt, Albin Michel Publishing, 1993
    Yes, Samu is just Zazen in action. It may not look like seated meditation, but it is to be done from the same state of mental balance. Couple this with an attitude of goalless, non-striving, ‘just doing’, also a hallmark of Zazen. As well, work is to be performed mindfully, as the only action in and of the whole universe : One engaged in Samu should devote to it all care and attention, never wishing for or thinking of anything else in that moment of action.

    The result is a job performed diligently and patiently and with certain goals, but with no thought of anything to achieve (of course, not a contradiction in Zen). It may be a continuing job that just needs to be done without end, but we do it with all care moment by moment by moment for the time we have.

    I usually describe Samu in a nutshell as working diligently and carefully at one's task trying to get 'er done all while, simultaneously, dropping all thought of any goal to attain or anywhere to get! (Yes, seems contradictory, like seeing things two ways at once, as one)

    For example, we clean the dishes trying to get them clean (because nobody wants filthy dishes!) ... all the while dropping all thought of "clean" vs. "dirty" and anything to achieve, thereby achieving a certain Purity that sweeps in and through both clean and dirty. Thus, we achieve a Clean that cleans up as both clean and dirty!

    Those parents and workers with heavy family or employment duties even during Retreat can make that part of that their ‘Samu’, approaching it with the mindset described above. Treat every changed diaper, cooked meal and bedtime story read during the Retreat as 'Samu'. Treat every staple stapled, copy made on the copy machine, customer greeted as 'Samu' if needing to work during part of the 'Retreat'.

    Now, if you can, and the weather permits, it is lovely to do some outdoor work for Samu. Or one can clean (beyond "clean vs. dirty") around the house. However, if someone has physical or other limitations, even small tasks are fine.

    In years past, I have gathered fall leaves and cleaned the bathtub (an activity, frankly, I usually do not enjoy!) ...

    ... but I also have scrubbed dirty coins with an old toothbrush, repeatedly washing the same coins for the entire period (a seemingly pointless activity ... and that is also the point!).

    Also, if someone has a health condition or disability, they can just do what they can and the body allows. No problem. Design your own work project that you feel comfortable with.

    All Good Samu, All Good Practice!

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-26-2017 at 02:45 PM.

  3. #3

    In preparation for our upcoming Treeleaf Annual 'AT HOME' Two Day 'ALL ONLINE' ROHATSU (Buddha's Enlightenment Day) RETREAT ... DETAILS ABOVE ...

    Going to the toilet is nature, is life, is Practice, is Zazen. All the Buddhas and Ancestors had to pee and poo, and so do you. But how we do our duty makes all the difference!

    Master Dogen devoted an entire chapter of Shobogenzo to latrine procedures (two chapters, actually!) ... and during our Retreat we should see going to the toilet as a sacred ritual. First, drop all thought of "clean" and "dirty" ... flush such discriminatory ideas away! However, even as we drop all idea of "clean" and "dirty", we try to stay clean (we are always working on several levels in Zen) ... so, if wearing a Rakusu, remove it and hang it outside the toilet room before entering. Then Gassho 3x (or, if you wish, do full prostrations 3x as monks do in traditional monasteries) toward the door of the toilet room and recite a 'Gatha' such as the following (by Ven. Thich Naht Hanh):

    Defiled or immaculate,
    increasing or decreasing--
    these concepts exist only in our mind.
    The reality of interbeing is unsurpassed.

    Of course, maintain silence in the bog. No reading material and, while one need not assume the Full Lotus Posture on the commode, one should do one's business with the sense of stillness-in-motion and non-attaining that is Zazen. Go with with Flow!

    Truly, peeing is only action in that moment, a perfect act complete unto itself ... it is not you peeing, or even the whole universe peeing in that instant (although it is that too) ... for 'tis Just Peeing. On exiting, bow again 3x to the toilet door and recite a Gatha such as ...

    Using the toilet I vow with all beings to eliminate defilement, removing greed, anger and ignorance.

    Then be sure to wash your hands (there is something to recite for that as well) ... By the way, a similar ritual should be performed prior to entering the bath or shower. In that case, please recite a Gatha such as ...

    Bathing the body,
    may all living beings
    be clean in body and mind,
    pure and shining within and without.

    We will have similar recitals of "Gatha" for use when brushing the teeth, washing the face and hands. They are printed in our "Chant Book" HERE (PDF), available for download for use during the Retreat.


    More here ...

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - By the way, if one would like to see Master Dogen's actual "rules" for the Toilet (called the "Tosu", the "Eastern Hall", in a Zen monastery), you may be rather surprised. A most detailed ritual, right down to the squatting and clean-up. Please feel free to adapt any of this you wish, including the spatula, ash and pebbles.

    After monks began to reside in temple quarters, they constructed a building that they referred to as ‘the Eastern Quarters’. Sometimes it was called a water closet and at other times a lavatory. It is absolutely essential to have a lavatory in a place where a family of monks resides.

    When going to the Eastern Quarters, you should be sure to take a hand towel with you. The way to do this is to fold the hand towel in half and put it over your left shoulder, letting it hang down over the sleeve of your gown. When you have arrived at the Eastern Quarters, you should hang your towel over the clean-clothes pole. Hang it in the same way it was when it was hanging on your shoulder.

    If you come wearing a nine- or seven-striped kesa,* you should be sure to hang it next to your towel. You should hang it so that it will not fall off. Do not hastily toss it over the pole. You should be sure to pay particular attention to the name marker. The name marker is for putting your name on the pole. Write your name on a piece of white paper in the shape of a full moon and then align this marker on the rack. We use a name marker so that we will not forget where we have put our robe. When our monks come in numbers, we must be sure not to confuse our place on the rack with that of others.
    If a number of monks come and line up at this time, make shashu* and bow in greeting to the others. When bowing in greeting, you need not bow deeply: simply hold your hands in shashu before your chest and bow in recognition of the others. When in the Eastern Quarters, we acknowledge the monks assembled by bowing to them even when we are not in our robes. If your two hands are not occupied or you are not carrying something in them, you should keep them in shashu and bow.

    If one of your hands is already occupied, or when you are carrying something in one hand, you should make your bow with a one-handed gasshō.* In bowing with a one-handed gasshō, the hand is raised, with the fingers slightly cupped as if you were going to use the hand to scoop up water; the head is lowered slightly, as in greeting. When another monk behaves in this way towards us, we should behave similarly: when we behave in this way, the other monk should do likewise.

    The procedure for taking off your undershirt and outer robe is to remove your robe along with the undershirt by bringing the two sleeves together in back, putting the two arm holes together, and lifting up the sleeves. You then fold the two sleeves, one atop the other, over the garment. Next, with the left hand, grasp the back of the collars and, with the right hand, draw up the robe and fold it down the middle of the sleeve bags7 and the two collars. Having folded over the two sleeves and collars, you again fold the robe in two, lengthwise, and drape it over the pole with the collars on the far side; the skirt of the robe and the sleeve cuffs hang on the near side of the pole. That is to say, the robe hangs at the waist over the pole.

    Next, avoid mistaking whose towel is whose when there are two poles and two towels are hanging one in front of the other. So that your towel does not get separated from your robe or get taken by someone who has not hung up a towel, tie it down by wrapping it around your robe two or three times and tying it, without letting your robe fall onto the ground. Then, facing your robe, you make gasshō.

    Next, you take a sash cord and hang it over your shoulders. Then go to the wash stand and fill a clean bucket with water; carrying the bucket with your right hand, go into a toilet stall. In putting water in the bucket, do not fill it to the brim, but fill it up nine-tenths of the way.

    When you reach the lavatory door, you should change your slippers. Put on a pair of rush slippers, leaving your own slippers by the front of the lavatory door. This is what is meant by ‘changing slippers’.

    It says in the Procedures for Cleanliness in a Zen Temple, “When you need to go to the Eastern Quarters, by all means anticipate this need. Deal with it in time, so that you do not hurry from urgency. Give yourself time to fold your kesa, and leave it on your table in the Monks’ Quarters or on the clean pole in the lavatory.”

    Upon entering the toilet stall, close the door with your left hand. You next pour just a little water from your bucket into the toilet basin. Next, put the bucket in front of you in the place provided for it. Then, while standing, face the basin and snap your fingers three times. Whilst snapping your fingers, your left hand is held in a fist at your left side at waist level. Next, you lift and gather up your under-skirt by its corners, face the door and, straddling the basin between your feet, squat down and relieve yourself. Do not soil either side of your garments; do not let them get stained front or back. During this time, you should remain silent. Do not talk or joke with the person in the next stall, chant, sing, or recite anything aloud. Do not spit or blow mucus from your nose onto the area around you. Do not strain or make grunting sounds excessively. You should not write on the walls. Do not dig at or draw on the ground with your toilet spatula; it should be used for cleaning yourself after you have evacuated your bowels. Also, if you use paper, you should not use old paper or paper with characters written on it.

    You should keep in mind the difference between a clean spatula and a soiled one. The spatula is eight inches long, triangular in shape. In thickness, it is the width of one’s thumb. Some are lacquered, others are not. Put your soiled spatula in the used spatula box. Clean ones will already be in the spatula stand. The spatula stand is kept near the sign in front of the toilet basin. After using a spatula or paper, the way you clean yourself is as follows: hold the bucket in your right hand and moisten your left hand well. Then, cupping some water in your left hand, you first clean off your genitals three times. Then, you wash your buttocks. This is the way you should clean yourself.

    Do not tip the bucket roughly, spilling the water into your hand and quickly using it all up. After you have finished cleaning yourself, put the bucket down in its proper place; then, take the used spatula and wipe it clean and dry with paper. You should wipe your genitals and buttocks dry. Next, adjust your under-skirt and robe with your right hand, and, also with your right hand, pick up the bucket. Then go out the door, take off the rush slippers, and put on your own. Next, you return to the wash stand and put the bucket in its original place.

    Next, you should wash your hands. With your right hand you take a spoonful of ashes, place it atop some pebbles, drip some water on them, and wash your contacting hand with your right hand,9 using the pebbles to scour it, just as though you were cleaning rust off a sword. You should wash with ashes in this manner three times. Then, you should take some sand, add some water, and wash three times. Next, take some cleansing powder made from ground orange seeds in your right hand, moisten it with water from the small bucket, and wash by rubbing your hands together. The washing should be done thoroughly, even up your forearms. You should wholeheartedly devote your attention to washing in a conscientious manner. Ashes thrice, sand thrice, and cleansing powder once—all together seven times, an appropriate number. Next, you wash in a large bucket. This time, you simply wash in cold or warm water, without using any cleanser, sand, or ashes. After washing once, transfer that water into the small bucket, put in fresh water, and rinse both hands. In the Avatamsaka Scripture, a verse says:
    When washing your hands,

    By all means pray that all sentient beings
    May acquire the finest hands
    With which to receive the Buddha’s Teachings.

    When you use a water ladle, you should, of course, hold it with your right hand. When using it, do so quietly, without making a great noise with bucket or ladle. Do not splash water about, scatter the cleansing powder, or get the area around the water stand wet. That is to say, do not be hasty or careless: do not be disorderly with things or treat them roughly.

    Next, you dry your hands with the towel for general use or dry them with your own towel. Once you have finished drying your hands, go to where your robe is hanging over the pole, undo the sash cord, and hang the cord over the pole. Next, hang your towel over your left shoulder and rub some incense on yourself. There is rubbing incense for general use. It is made of fragrant wood in the shape of small vials. The size of each is about the thickness of a thumb and four times that amount in length. You take a piece of string about a foot long and thread it through the holes that are bored in each end of the incense stick. This is hung over the pole. When you rub it between the palms of your hands, the fragrance of this incense will naturally impregnate your hands.
    When you hang your sash cord over the pole, do not hang it over another one so that they become entangled, and do not leave it in a disorderly fashion.

    When matters are handled in this way, everything will be a purified Buddha Land, a Buddha World well adorned. You should do everything with care, without a lapse: you should not act from haste, as though in a dither. Do not entertain the thought, “If I hurry, I can get back to what I was doing.” You should keep in mind the principle that, when you go to the Eastern Quarters, the Buddha’s Dharma is not something to be talked about, but lived.

    Do not stare at the faces of monks coming and going.

    In cleansing yourself whilst in the lavatory, it is fine to use cool water, since it is said that hot water may cause diarrhea. Using warm water to wash your hands will not prove disturbing to your health. A kettle has been provided for heating water to wash your hands with.

    Concerning the duties of the monk in charge of the lavatory, it says in the Procedures for Cleanliness in a Zen Temple, “Later in the evening, see that water is heated and oil is put out for the night lamp. Always make sure that there is someone to take over the boiling of the water, and do not let the community do it with a discriminatory attitude.” From this it is clear that both hot and cold water are used.

    If the interior of the lavatory becomes dirty, you should screen off the entry door and hang the sign that says ‘Dirty’ on it. If a bucket is accidentally knocked over, you should screen off the entry door and hang up the ‘Spilled Bucket’ sign. Do not enter the building when such signs have been put up.

    Even though you may have already entered a stall, if there is someone else who snaps his fingers to let you know of his presence, you should leave shortly.
    and it goes on like that a bit more ... similar rules exist for tooth brushing, face washing and such ...

    Our procedures for this Retreat are somewhat abbreviated!

    Here is an image of a traditional Tosu (Eastern Hall) in a Zen Monastery in Japan. As you can see, it has an Altar too.

    The image there is the Buddha Ususama-myoo (seen here at the entrance to another Tosu), also called Katokongoo, who symbolizes the virtue of purification, and is said to transform impurities.

    Last edited by Jundo; 11-27-2017 at 12:42 AM.

  4. #4

    We have some Bowing and Prostrations during our annual retreat ... especially times of prostrating (Raihai), done in a series or three (Sanpai) ...

    Many Westerners don't care for it, because it is not part of our culture generally. We see it as humiliating, embarrassing, somehow "idol worshipping" or undemocratic. I am often asked to whom or what we are bowing ... Is it to some thing, god, place like Mecca, person or effigy?

    I answer by saying that there is nothing that's true that is omitted from our bow. We might consider that we're simply bowing to the whole universe, and to ourself and the other people around us … after all, 'All is One'! The hands, palms upwards, are raised in a gesture traditionally symbolic of lifting the Buddha's feet over one's head, but that truly means lifting all things of the universe over one's head. It's appropriate to cultivate an attitude of emptying, letting go, receptivity and gratitude in our bows.

    I do not necessarily think anything when bowing ... although I usually feel in my heart that "Great Gratitude" I sometimes mention.

    If there is some physical or personal reason not to prostrate, a simple deep standing Gassho can be substituted. However, there is greatness in the humility of the prostration.

    No less, are we raising something up or ... seen another way ... is the whole world raising us up at the same time?

    The Korean Zen folks are very big with the Prostrations, often recommending at least 108 each day. This site also has some good pictures on "how to" Prostrate.

    It is a powerful physical Practice. These days, I usually practice a deep Gassho during our Zazenkai and such. However, I engage in Prostrations also, during our more formal monthly Zazenkai, Rohatsu Retreat and like times.

    Many Tibetans (many Christians pilgrims too) will travel for hundreds of miles, prostrating with each step ...

    Gassho, Jundo


    (Usually repeated in groups of 3x)

  5. #5
    If you would like to watch a brief video of formal Sesshin atmosphere (not much different on ordinary days there in fact) at Eiheiji Monastery, including such customs as Samu Work and Oryoki ...

    ... in our Treeleaf Retreat we try to bring a taste of such into our own homes and daily life ...

    Our way is certainly not as rigorous as the life of these young monks in training. However, do not think that such a place is more and our way is less ... for we can Sit and Work and Eat beyond and right through all measures and distinctions. Our way is not quite the same, but neither is it different in the least. It is my belief that one can encounter the same lessons, the same freedom, the same opening of the mind even in our little Retreat if one knows how to look within and without free of border. Our own life can be a place of good Practice, and a source of Wisdom and Compassion, as much as any monastery. Your life too, right where you sit and work at a job and take care of your family and social responsibilities is Relentless Practice.

    As I always tell our priests-in-training here at Treeleaf, the seriousness of the Practice depends on one's own diligence, care, persistence, sincerity and attention to the Practice before one in this moment.

    Zazen is not a matter of long or short. One must sit dropping all measure, tasting in one's bones that every single instant of Zazen is all time (and all timeless too)! One must sit throwing the clock away! And yet ... and yet ... (Zen folks often speak out of both sides of their no sided mouth) ... and yet ... sometimes, we need to practice a bit long and hard, morning to night ... sitting and wrestling with 'me, my self and I' ... all to attain 'Nothing More to Attain', and to taste 'Just This'. It is also not a matter of place ... and we should "sit Zazen" too in the hospital bed, death bed, nursery room, grocery line, city bus. Nonetheless, we go to the Retreat sometimes to sit in a room on a Zafu, precisely because it is not a matter of "where" or "place."

    Our Retreat may be short by the clock and held from home, but can be a Serious Endeavor nonetheless.

    And, no, I will not be hitting anyone with the Keisaku stick.

    Gassho, J

    Last edited by Jundo; 11-26-2017 at 02:55 PM.

  6. #6
    Thank you Jundo! Looking forward to it.

    sat + lah
    Please take my words with a big grain of salt. I know nothing. Wisdom is only found in our whole-hearted practice together.

  7. #7
    Lovely, thank you Jundo ... another time for us to come together and practice. =)


    倫道 真現

  8. #8
    Great. Looking forward to it.


  9. #9
    Thanks, looking forward to it



  10. #10
    I am going to have to time shift a bit those days but I will be participating in the entire weekend. I will be with everyone in spirit the entire time.

    Gassho, Allan


  11. #11
    Thank you, Jundo.

    St /lah

    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

    泰 Entai (Bill)
    "this is not a dress rehearsal"

  12. #12
    Looking forward to sit Rohatsu with you all.


    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  13. #13
    Wonderful! I love this post every year... Rohatsu is such a wonderful weekend.

    香道 笑花
    Kodo Shoka

    Please don't take anything I say as anything more than just a normal person's thoughts on the topic. I'm just stumbling through life trying to be helpful, but really don't know much.

  14. #14
    Have a medical procedure about then. But will participate at some time.

    Sat today lah

  15. #15
    Thank you, Jundo.
    I very much enjoyed sitting Rohatsu retreats here and looking forward to this one too.

    sat, lah pending

  16. #16
    Thank you, Jundo.

    Your teaching on samu really helped me, even now before rohatsu. I have a 12-hr shift at the hospital tomorrow, my first one ever. I have been so nervous about it. Working as a hospital unit assistant has been described as "being in the middle of a shit storm" and that is definitely true. Even though I really enjoy this job, it can be very hard on my anxiety as it's a high stress, high pressure working environment. Tomorrow, I will go to work with the attitude of practicing samu, nowhere to go, nothing to accomplish, in the middle of working hard all day.

    sat today/lah

  17. #17
    Seriously one of my favorite weekends of the year. Can't wait!

    清 道 寂田
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  18. #18
    This weekend I'm going to sit down and try to work out a schedule, I think at first glance I may be able to do some of this as it happens, which is great. I can't do samu in the middle of the night though ( I don't want to disturb husband and neighbours) so I'll need to look at that.
    I'm very excited!


  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie View Post
    This weekend I'm going to sit down and try to work out a schedule, I think at first glance I may be able to do some of this as it happens, which is great. I can't do samu in the middle of the night though ( I don't want to disturb husband and neighbours) so I'll need to look at that.
    I'm very excited!

    Nothing need be done in the middle of the night. All is recorded to mix and match to join later to fit any time Zone. We Samu while you sleep, then you Samu while we sleep.

    Gassho, J


  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Nothing need be done in the middle of the night. All is recorded to mix and match to join later to fit any time Zone. We Samu while you sleep, then you Samu while we sleep.

    Gassho, J

    Yep, I think that's exactly how it's going to work out for me. Sorting out my old toothbrushes this week in preparation

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