When is sesshin not a sesshin? When the participants are all sitting apart from one another, in their homes, where we are conditioned to kick back and enjoy ourselves and where silence and seclusion have to be negotiable.
Still, who of us couldn’t benefit from a good, solid stretch of extended sitting—and in concert with others whom we can actually see sitting? Our experience with this new form has been that it’s surprisingly effective. After some experimentation, we’ve settled on the daily schedule below, somewhat lighter than at our standard sesshins at Chapin Mill. It begins a bit later each morning and includes wider break periods, as follows:
|7:00 – 9:30 pm||zazen|
|6:00 – 8:00 am||zazen with dokusan|
|8:00 – 9:30||breakfast / break|
|9:30 – 12:30||zazen with teisho|
|12:30 – 2:00 pm||lunch / break|
|2:00 – 4:00||zazen with dokusan|
|4:00 – 7:00||dinner / break|
|7:00 – 9:30||zazen with dokusan|
|Last Day: same as above, until|
|After teisho||Zazen and final dokusan, ending around 1:00 p.m.|
Who Is Eligible
Our limit of participants (via Zoom) is 99, and based on our experience to date, we hope to be able to accommodate everyone who registers. But if applications were to exceed 99, the following two factors would come into play:
- Extent of participation: As shown, the schedule includes four primary blocks of sitting. If more than 99 people register, Roshi will feel obliged to give preference to those who will be attending full-time. After that, part-time participants will be accepted (all other factors being equal) on the basis of how many of the sitting blocks they want to attend, with those applying for the least participation going last. The minimum participation is for one of the four main blocks.
- Membership: people who are officially members of a Cloud-Water Center (Rochester, Auckland, or other) will be given preference.
(If numbers are not a problem, people who aren’t even registered for the sesshin may also plug into the sittings, but without going to dokusan.)
Once you’ve registered for one or more of the four main blocks, you’ll be expected to be present from beginning to end. This will give some fiber to what is otherwise a fairly allowing schedule. If you know before sesshin that you’ll have to miss a bit of the schedule, due to an appointment, for example, let Trueman Taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org) know of that need beforehand. And if after sesshin has begun you find that due to unforeseen circumstances you have to miss one or more rounds of a block for which you signed up, please notify Trueman as soon as possible, and he will pass that along to whichever of the “monitors,” or Zoom hosts is on duty for that block.
Since we don’t know how many people will attend sesshin, and thus what the demand will be for dokusan, we ask that those who wish to be eligible for dokusan attend at least two of the four blocks of sitting, including one in which dokusan is offered.
As in a traditional sesshin, the rounds of sitting will be interspersed with short periods in which to do kinhin (formal walking zazen) or otherwise practice zazen in activity.
Just apply online in the usual way. If you plan to attend part-time, note which blocks you’re signing up for.
We’re leaving it up to each participant to contribute whatever they can afford. This year the Center could very much use an infusion of revenue to help compensate for the cancellations of sesshin and rental retreats at Chapin Mill, but then many members will also feel financially strapped. So just give what you can afford.