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Thread: ATTENTION! Our 2023 "AT HOME" 2-DAY ROHATSU RETREAT - PREPARATORY LESSONS

  1. #1

    Exclamation ATTENTION! Our 2023 "AT HOME" 2-DAY ROHATSU RETREAT - PREPARATORY LESSONS


     

    Dear All,

    Our ...


    Treeleaf Annual
    'ALWAYS AT HOME' Two Day 'ALL ONLINE' ROHATSU

    (Buddha's Enlightenment Day)
    RETREAT



    ... is to be LIVE NETCAST on the weekend of Saturday & Sunday, December 2nd and 3rd, 2023. 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)

    * * *

    RETREAT PREPARATION LESSON I -

    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 [SIZE=3a simple, home Oryoki kit[/SIZE]. 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"





    One important note on Oryoki meals ...

    Please note that it is not meant to be a leisurely, slow lunch, savoring every bite while chewing 100 times ...

    Rather, Zen monks actually treat food as medicine to support the body in practice, and do not think "good or bad" (although the food should be healthy and nutritious) or savor the meal. You might be surprised how fast they go, getting it down bite by bite, but without lingering.

    Thus, do not rush and choke, but neither linger. Be sure to serve yourself a small portion, so that one is able to open one's bowls, eat and finish, then wrap the bowls with everyone within the given time. Small portions are thus suggested, even with the traditional offer of "seconds" midway. No food should remain at the end, when it is time to clean and rewrap. Take enough to sustain you, not fill you.

    If there is need for health reasons, it is fine to take additional healthy food or snacks during break times informally (no ritual required than perhaps a grateful Gassho), to sustain you.

    I remember one of my first Oryoki where I was left with half a dish of rice still uneaten when others were already wrapping their bowls ... which I nearly choked on trying to then get down ... a mistake I never made again.
    Let's Get Ready to Rohatsu!




    Gassho, Jundo
    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    RETREAT PREPARATION LESSON II -


    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
    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    RETREAT PREPARATION LESSON III -


    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.


    For our upcoming Rohatsu Retreat, PLEASE PRINT OUT THE GATHAS IN OUR CHANT BOOK AND POST THEM AROUND YOUR BATHROOM!! IT IS ALL SACRED!

    Gassho, Jundo
    SatTodayLAH

    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.

    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    RETREAT PREPARATION LESSON IV -

    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?


    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

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  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

    SatTodayLAH
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6


    gassho
    ds sat, lah
    Visiting unsui: salt liberally.

  7. #7
    Thank you Jundo

    These are very helpful guidelines for Rohatsu

    Gassho, Tokan

    satlah
    平道 島看 Heidou Tokan (Balanced Way Island Nurse)
    I enjoy learning from everyone, I simply hope to be a friend along the way

  8. #8

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui Onki's Avatar
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    London Ontario Canada


    Gasshō,

    On

    Sat today/LAH

  10. #10
    Member Do Mi's Avatar
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    Pacific Northwest, United States
    Thank you! I'll be watching in preparation!

    Gassho,

    Do Mi
    sat and lah

  11. #11


    I am very much looking forward to this year's Rohatsu.

    A question, is it considered inappropriate to write about my experiences/the dharma talks in my practice journal during rest periods? I remember last year how brilliant and insightful the Dharma talks were, how much they meant to me...and I don't remember what any of them were about. I would very much like to look back on my experiences of Rohatsu in the future.

    Gassho,
    SatLah
    Kelly

  12. #12
    I am looking forward to this!
    As I assume it’s important to do the retreat in one go, I won’t be able to join you live.
    Will join you in the timeless dimension

    Gassho, Michael
    Satlah

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by KellyLM View Post


    I am very much looking forward to this year's Rohatsu.

    A question, is it considered inappropriate to write about my experiences/the dharma talks in my practice journal during rest periods? I remember last year how brilliant and insightful the Dharma talks were, how much they meant to me...and I don't remember what any of them were about. I would very much like to look back on my experiences of Rohatsu in the future.

    Gassho,
    SatLah
    Kelly
    Hmmm. I think it okay, if done lightly.

    Likewise, we tend to put down the reading material during Retreat, but a few pages of reading a Zen book here and there are not terrible.

    Gassho, Jundo

    stlah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by solenziz View Post
    I am looking forward to this!
    As I assume it’s important to do the retreat in one go, I won’t be able to join you live.
    Will join you in the timeless dimension

    Gassho, Michael
    Satlah
    Some folks break it into bits because of health, work or family responsibilities. That is fine, and to do as much as somebody can, if they cannot do the whole thing ... or cannot do the whole thing at one go.

    Gassho, J

    stlah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  15. #15
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
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    St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.
    Hi Jundo,

    I'm sewing a OKesa. Would it be too much to work on that during breaks?

    Gassho,

    Hoseki
    Sattoday/lah

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Hoseki View Post
    Hi Jundo,

    I'm sewing a OKesa. Would it be too much to work on that during breaks?

    Gassho,

    Hoseki
    Sattoday/lah
    That will be my Samu also, as most units are during night time for me

    Gassho
    Sat and lah
    Bion
    -------------------------
    When you put Buddha’s activity into practice, only then are you a buddha. When you act like a fool, then you’re a fool.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Hoseki View Post
    Hi Jundo,

    I'm sewing a OKesa. Would it be too much to work on that during breaks?

    Gassho,

    Hoseki
    Sattoday/lah
    Yes, very good.

    Gassho, Jundo

    stlah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  18. #18
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
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    Thank you!

    Gassho,

    Hoseki

    Sattoday/lah


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post



    I love this video!

    Gathered my Oryoki kit today.

    Gassho,
    SatLah
    Kelly

  20. #20
    Member Do Mi's Avatar
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    Here's a schedule question. On both days I will be starting with the third or possibly the second period, and catching up those first one or two periods after the end of the scheduled day. This means, though, that on the second day I'll be doing some practice (long service and zazen, maybe oryoki and samu) after the retreat closing. A little strange? Okay? Any ideas?

    (I'm very grateful to be able to adjust in this way to adapt to my sleep schedule.)

    Gassho,

    Do Mi
    sat and lah

  21. #21

    ATTENTION! Our 2023 "AT HOME" 2-DAY ROHATSU RETREAT - PREPARATORY LESSONS

    Quote Originally Posted by Do Mi View Post
    Here's a schedule question. On both days I will be starting with the third or possibly the second period, and catching up those first one or two periods after the end of the scheduled day. This means, though, that on the second day I'll be doing some practice (long service and zazen, maybe oryoki and samu) after the retreat closing. A little strange? Okay? Any ideas?

    (I'm very grateful to be able to adjust in this way to adapt to my sleep schedule.)

    Gassho,

    Do Mi
    sat and lah
    For us, here in Europe, the last 2 or 3 units of every day are a bit too late, so folks choose to sleep and sit with them during our morning, then continue with normal schedule. Others need to divide the whole sesshin in smaller bits and sit with them during weeks in a row. It is precisely why we stream and record everything, so definitely nothing strange about adapting the schedule to your life’s needs.

    gassho
    sat and lah
    Last edited by Bion; 11-28-2023 at 06:23 AM.
    Bion
    -------------------------
    When you put Buddha’s activity into practice, only then are you a buddha. When you act like a fool, then you’re a fool.

  22. #22
    Member Do Mi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bion View Post
    For us, here in Europe, the last 2 or 3 units of every day are a bit too late, so folks choose to sleep and sit with them during our morning, then continue with normal schedule. Others need to divide the whole sesshin in smaller bits and sit with them during weeks in a row. It is precisely why we stream and record everything, so definitely nothing strange about adapting the schedule to your life’s needs.

    gassho
    sat and lah
    Thank you Bion!

    Now I have another question. During sesshins, I have found myself not knowing what to do during rest periods, if I'm not either taking a little nap or going for a walk. It's a good challenge for me, because I have a fear of boredom! Without reading, writing, making music, talking, I find myself just feeling like I should do more zazen! How do others navigate this?

    Gassho,

    Do Mi (probably overthinking)
    sat and lah

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Do Mi View Post
    Now I have another question. During sesshins, I have found myself not knowing what to do during rest periods, if I'm not either taking a little nap or going for a walk. It's a good challenge for me, because I have a fear of boredom! Without reading, writing, making music, talking, I find myself just feeling like I should do more zazen! How do others navigate this?
    h
    Hello,
    before or after Oryoki or Samu units, I usually prepare or clean up slowly and silently. There is always something to do.
    If I don't feel the need to lie down for a moment to stretch my back, I try to move a bit - going for a silent walk, offering the body something that is not still sitting.
    But all in a calm way, not searching for distraction.
    When there is boredom, I am approaching it as I do with thoughts during Zazen.
    Watching boredom, no need to make it go away. It will do so on its own and the rest periods are not that long, anyways.

    That is just what I am doing. Others might feel different about it.
    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.

    義道 冴庭 / Gidō Kotei.
    Being a novice priest doesn't mean my writing about the Dharma is more substantial than yours. Actually, it might well be the other way round.

  24. #24
    Can I use a bigger envelope (~30x15cm)? I can't find letter size one

    Gasshō

    stlah

    Bernal

  25. #25
    Member Do Mi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kotei View Post
    Hello,
    before or after Oryoki or Samu units, I usually prepare or clean up slowly and silently. There is always something to do.
    If I don't feel the need to lie down for a moment to stretch my back, I try to move a bit - going for a silent walk, offering the body something that is not still sitting.
    But all in a calm way, not searching for distraction.
    When there is boredom, I am approaching it as I do with thoughts during Zazen.
    Watching boredom, no need to make it go away. It will do so on its own and the rest periods are not that long, anyways.

    That is just what I am doing. Others might feel different about it.
    Gassho,
    Kotei sat/lah today.
    Thank you Kotei, this is very helpful. Really, just proceeding with trust.

    Have a wonderful rohatsu, everyone!


    Gassho,

    Do Mi
    sat and lah

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