Dec 1-8 2013BUDDHA'S ENLIGHTENMENT
Sesshin means to unify or expound the Mind. It offers a unique opportunity to deepen practice and training in an intensive immersion into zazen (shikantaza).
The annual Rohatsu Sesshin is unique in that we sit up all night the last day in observance of Buddha's Enlightenment. We will be practicing at the Zonolite training center.
Elliston Sensei will lead a series of informal discussions on experience during zazen, and will offer daily dokusan, time TBD.
Follow the schedule to the degree possible. As a lay practice Sangha we recognize family and work-related responsibilities and encourage partial attendance as well. If possible please attend the orientation on Sunday and plan your entry and exit during break times. Please inform the Retreat Leader (Ino) if and when you must be absent. (download schedule here)
Meals will be informal and Oryoki-style at the discretion of the Tenzo; please bring your bowl set if you have one; if not one will be provided. Please let Tenzo know of any special dietary
Please observe silence when arriving, leaving, and especially between lights out until the middle breakfast bell is rung. Please avoid reading; talking only when necessary and during formal dialog.
Last Updated (Monday, 02 December 2013 14:59)
Time For Zen
This has been a busy month, what with a week-long retreat in Halifax followed by a weekend at our newly established Three Streams mountain retreat center. I had initially planned to write about Master Dogen’s Sansuigyo: Mountains and Waters Sutra, which was the subject matter of the dharma talks at both retreats. I will post that piece soon.
But an article on the front page of last Sunday’s New York Times (NYT) Sunday Review section, titled “You’re So Self-Controlling” caught my attention, with its question, “Is our sense of time, not our lack of willpower, the real issue?” Its subsequent discussion of our perception of time made me change my mind. I decided to address this troubling matter of making time for Zen, which may be of more immediate relevance to our members, as we mark the annual November celebration in memory of Matsuoka-roshi’s legacy.
We will return to the article in a bit, but first I would like to direct your attention to “Dhyanayana, Zen Ways,” the first chapter in O-Sensei’s collection of his later talks, Moku-Rai, the second of what will be a four-volume archive of his teaching, scheduled for completion in 2014. In it, he reinforces a message that he stated clearly elsewhere — that by far the largest group of Zen practitioners in the West, especially in the USA, are those who start practicing and then quit too soon. By too soon, he meant before the real benefits and effects of zazen could set in, and long before any long-term assimilation of the Zen life could transpire.
Last Updated (Thursday, 21 November 2013 19:23)
When you get sick, you just get sick; when you die, you just die. — Matsuoka Roshi
This saying, which is probably not original with O-Sensei, but a traditional aphorism, is one he repeated enough to indicate its importance to him, and its relevance to Zen. Of course, he would also encourage us to visit the doctor and do what the doctor tells us, illustrating the pragmatic side of the Middle Way, balancing out the seemingly brutal, uncompromising embrace of our mortal fate, and the final futility of resistance. He also made clear that adopting this attitude in the midst of illness, or when faced with death, can also have the practical benefit of preventing making it worse on ourselves, and, in the case of disease, perhaps even helping with the recovery. Or prolonging life by not aggravating an incurable condition.
In any case, amongst the three dimensions of dukkha of classical Buddhism — aging (last month's Dharma Byte), sickness and death, sickness is perhaps more fearful and more to-be-avoided than the others. Birth rounds out the four, actually, though we do not usually regard it as a form of suffering, ironically. After all, as some wag once said, the number one cause of death is birth.
Aged people will often tell you that it is not dying that they worry about, but the process of dying, especially if it involves extended suffering from sickness and pain. Those who find themselves confined to a sick bed, which threatens to become their deathbed, strung up with tubes and machines keeping them alive, often prefer to end their own life, rather than waiting for the inevitable "natural" death as dictated by nature. The extreme efforts to sustain life at any cost, often not under their personal control, then make life itself unnatural, postponing the inevitable and prolonging the suffering unnecessarily. This is the subject of emotion-laden debate today, and such a situation is more dreaded than death itself.