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  1. #1



    Dear All,

    Our ...

    Treeleaf Annual

    (Buddha's Enlightenment Day)

    ... is to be LIVE NETCAST on the weekend of Saturday & Sunday, December 5th and 6th, 2020. However, 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 TIMES after, (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; 11-23-2020 at 03:15 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'.

    In years past, I have gathered fall leaves and cleaned the bathtub (an activity, frankly, I usually do not enjoy!) ... 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. We have had folks fold socks in bed, but with a sincere and dedicated heart. Here is our Shokai to demonstrate a simple task while seated ...

    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; 11-23-2020 at 03:08 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.


    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - Here is an image of a traditional Tosu (Eastern Hall Toilet) 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; 11-24-2020 at 01:04 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. For those who must be in bed, a sincere hand gesture or wink can hold all the sincere heart of a full bow if the heart means it so. All that matters is that there is present the sincerity and 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)
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-23-2020 at 03:11 PM.

  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; 11-23-2020 at 03:12 PM.

  6. #6
    Thank you Jundo

    Gassho, Chris satlah

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    And, no, I will not be hitting anyone with the Keisaku stick.
    Why do the monks get hit with a Keisaku stick to correct their form? isn't that some kind of abuse and/or the opposite of a bodhisattva? I saw this video before and I wondered why the sittings/daily life aren't accompanied with compassion and empathy?


  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by sheeep44 View Post
    Why do the monks get hit with a Keisaku stick to correct their form? isn't that some kind of abuse and/or the opposite of a bodhisattva? I saw this video before and I wondered why the sittings/daily life aren't accompanied with compassion and empathy?

    Well, it is supposed to be just a wake-up. never used in anger or violence. So, it is just supposed to be stimulation, not a violation. However, given the "boot camp" atmosphere of some monasteries, it was sometimes used more agressively. I don't think that it should be.

    Gassho, J


    PS - Matt, would you mind to put a human face picture? It helps keep us more human and warm around here. Thank you.

    Let us know if the above is unclear.

  9. #9
    I have moved the "Preparatory Lessons" thread to the Jukai area to allow access while the Forum is otherwise closed for Rohatsu.

    Gassho, Jundo


  10. #10
    Oryoki seemed difficult for me but I very much enjoy watching videos and I hope my picture of myself for each post is colorful and pleasant. I did hope for the best picture of the series my wife took. Since Marjorie is my best Zen teacher, she asks for each pose, and would approve of this one.
    sat/ lah
    Tai Shi
    Last edited by Tai Shi; 12-08-2020 at 01:49 PM. Reason: clarify
    A monk asked Yun-men, "What are the teachings of a lifetime?" Yum-men said to him, "An appropriate statement." Zen Mondo

  11. #11
    Member Seikan's Avatar
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    Apr 2020
    Massachusetts, United States
    Quote Originally Posted by Tai Shi View Post
    Oryoki seemed difficult for me but I very much enjoy watching videos and I hope my picture of myself for each post is colorful and pleasant. I did hope for the best picture of the series my wife took. Since Marjorie is my best Zen teacher, she asks for each pose, and would approve of this one.
    sat/ lah
    Tai Shi
    Tai Shi,

    It was wonderful to practice with you this past weekend. And your new smiling profile photo looks great!



    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
    聖簡 Seikan (Sacred Simplicity)

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