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Sesshin "a model of life"

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Sesshin "a model of life"

Postby desert_woodworker on Fri Oct 21, 2016 3:43 am

For years I've liked thinking of sesshin as a complete and comprehensive training opportunity.

In the seven or so days, there is much zazen, yes, and opportunity for face-to-face contact with the teacher, but sesshin is also replete with other Zen Buddhist practices, which bring one's developing, growing, meditative focus and settledness into the realm of activity and action. These other practices thus take our practice "up off the cushions", and hone our experience with everyday life activities as practice.

There is so much true compassion and true wisdom shown by those who have perfected these practices for us, in this overarching practice called "sesshin", down the centuries.

A description of sesshin that I've liked for decades is "a model of life". I think it's apt.

Recently, I found a modern Western teacher's writing who uses those very words. This is in John Buksbazen Roshi's, Zen Meditation In Plain English (2002), Wisdom Publications.

First, on the importance of sesshin to any Zen Buddhist practitioner, the Roshi writes,

    "It has been said that one who has not sat sesshin has yet to fully experience Zen practice." (p. 83)
Then, he writes,

    "Intrinsically sesshin is a model of life itself and requires that the community meet its own needs and recognize its own nature. There are certain arrangements that need to be made for feeding and housing the participants, there are the procedures by which the zendo is run smoothly, and there is the underlying unity of all those who practice together. There may be many differences of personality, style, taste, and maturity of practice; yet, in sesshin, the diversity becomes harmony as the participants move through the hours of the day together, sitting, working, eating, studying, and sleeping according to the schedule, with a minimum of friction." (p. 85-86)
Buksbazen Roshi is a teacher in Maezumi Roshi's lineage, and a contemporary of Bernie Glassman Roshi, and the late John Daido Loori Roshi, among others who are also the Dharma heirs of Maezumi.

--Joe
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Re: Sesshin "a model of life"

Postby Linda Anderson on Fri Oct 21, 2016 2:24 pm

That's lovely Joe. I agree Sesshin is "a model of life".... sesshin is life, our life. This is my experience of my first sesshin...

The Great Summer Sesshin, 2000

All beings, one body, came together in this great summer of 2000 under the redwoods. The bell rings, all rise. The bell rings, all bow. We sit, meditate, walk and eat in a wondrous temple. Each being shows up for the others in a timeless practice and presence. Joan provides the entry into ritual: “See sesshin as ritual”. As in all great rituals, there is form and formlessness, structure and flow, elements rise and fall, and beauty meanders around the eternal circle now appearing in a square. Wisdom and compassion are dancing on the ceiling. Spiraling in the kitchen, Tofu Man prepares our evening croutons and the choppers weigh and measure – Geraldine at the helm for the last time. The lettuce Goddess finally learns to tear lettuce. Virochana, boundless sky, honors her commitment to serve carrying our bread held high three times daily. Ritual teaches the secrets of a well-lived life, subtle those Japanese. We all walk together in time, then Richie dances us together in time, walking and dancing on the African savannah – one body where in time? John comes after morning tea to inspect the troops and honors our practice offering the tender side of the teacher. One body, when in doubt, bow down to that which doesn’t exist. Practice flows seamlessly into morning teachings: so many wisdom gems planted in fertile ground. “Accept all offers”. “Zen is two words: Not always so.” Susan, Myumi, and Lin offer their hearts so tenderly, practice in motion. John and Joan dare to create the moment as it comes forth. Dana for Geraldine’s last voyage as Captain of the kitchen takes the form of celebration and acknowledgement, heartfelt sharing and honesty arising from our practice and Kanzeon prints by Myumi. Ah, the circularity of Dana, twinkling stars in the night sky. David joins in the sharing, and neighbors, babies and dogs also come. Summer solstice, timeless as it is, is rescheduled for our sesshin timeframe. There we gather in the womb of the great mother, fire pit blazing, look up through the redwoods, and see the birth canal to the stars. Sharing at the altar our visions of the sacred, each being is now wondrously unique and beautiful. Hoshin’s guitar circles the night air above with its blessing and Kevin embraces us with a tender Zen lullaby:

Peacefully. Humbly.
The ship stars travel, the grass hunches down to earth,
The demons take their rest.
And we call the protectors to smile over us,
As the work in the darkness goes on until dawn.
-words by John Tarrant


It doesn’t get any better than this. Richie, our mystical musician, says there are two kinda people, those who know they gonna die and those who don’t. I wanna be with those who know they gonna die. Home Sweet Home.

Linda Anderson, Summer 2000


Not last night,
not this morning;
Melon flowers bloomed.
~ Bassho
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Re: Sesshin "a model of life"

Postby desert_woodworker on Fri Oct 21, 2016 6:34 pm

Nice write-up, Linda, thanks very much.

You probably sat with some other people from here on some of those sesshin, back then (did you meet/do you remember Carol?, a student of John's, who wears a rakusu).

:Namaste:,

--Joe
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Re: Sesshin "a model of life"

Postby Linda Anderson on Fri Oct 21, 2016 11:46 pm

Joe,
I sat with two Carol's from CA... and I vaguely remember Carol N from AZ?? or in a dream .... and Niels who I only met once. He was so kind and welcoming, I still remember him... was he from AZ or a CO? Back then some ppl still wore robes... Precious times, nothing ever stays the same.
linda
Not last night,
not this morning;
Melon flowers bloomed.
~ Bassho
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Re: Sesshin "a model of life"

Postby desert_woodworker on Sat Oct 22, 2016 3:47 pm

Linda,

Yes. Niels is from New Mexico. He is a woodworker.

Carol N. (exactly right...) probably wore a robe, yes (I think). I know she has a robe, from John. And the rakusu she sewed. On sesshin here, she regularly wore them both, so maybe there, too?

I'll send you by PM a small photo of Carol, maybe you'll recognize her. It was taken at about the era when she would have attended sesshin with John and Joan in CA, about 15-16 or 17 years ago?

best,

--Joe
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Re: Sesshin "a model of life"

Postby Linda Anderson on Sat Oct 22, 2016 3:53 pm

wow! I remembered! yes, Carol and Niels both wore robes as I recall. I only met them once or twice. I often forget names, but I never forget true nature... and I remember that about them.
Not last night,
not this morning;
Melon flowers bloomed.
~ Bassho
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Re: Sesshin "a model of life"

Postby desert_woodworker on Sat Oct 22, 2016 4:39 pm

Linda,

Maybe Carol worked in the kitchen with you on sesshin when you were Tenzo.

--Joe
Last edited by desert_woodworker on Sun Oct 23, 2016 2:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sesshin "a model of life"

Postby desert_woodworker on Sat Oct 22, 2016 4:50 pm

The Roshi, John Daishin Buksbazen, continues, re. sesshin:

    "...regardless of how often one participates in sesshin, it provides a change of pace and focus from everyday life that is a crucially important aspect of Zen training, and sesshin has a cumulative and far-reaching impact on the life of the participants. It has been said that one who has not sat sesshin has yet to fully experience Zen practice. Many people find that in sesshin the practices of sitting, working, and being alone with a diverse yet similarly attuned group of others serve to greatly heighten the sense of immediateness and personal relevance of sitting and to afford a far more visceral appreciation of Zen practice. And in the process, the individual's sense of relatedness to others -- and to the teaching and the practice itself -- is greatly enhanced."
from: Buksbazen, Zen Meditation in Plain English (2002), Shambhala; p. 82-83.

--Joe
Last edited by desert_woodworker on Sat Oct 22, 2016 5:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sesshin "a model of life"

Postby Linda Anderson on Sat Oct 22, 2016 5:07 pm

yup, I remember her! She worked in the Kitchen with Geraldine... just before my time as tenzo.
Not last night,
not this morning;
Melon flowers bloomed.
~ Bassho
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Re: Sesshin "a model of life"

Postby desert_woodworker on Sat Oct 22, 2016 5:16 pm

Linda,

Ah, I see. Yes, Geraldine was a fine Tenzo here at the sangha for a few years. John and Joan may have lured her away, as I think she then moved herself and her mobile-home to CA. Maybe still there? (dunno).

Days gone-by, eh?,

:heya:,

--Joe

Linda Anderson wrote:yup, I remember her! She worked in the Kitchen with Geraldine... just before my time as tenzo.
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Re: Sesshin "a model of life"

Postby Linda Anderson on Sat Oct 22, 2016 6:01 pm

days gone bye :heya:

Geraldine was tenzo for several years. She moved to LaConner, WA in 2000... thus her sesshin goodbye with friends, kids and dogs... I took over when she left. I last saw her in LaConner in 2008 when I happened to be there for a conference on essential oils... we had dinner.

For me, it's a blessing to see how the zen/spirit family moves and grooves in life. What does this have to do with sesshin? everything! .... it never ends. Sesshin is to touch the heart mind...

linda
Not last night,
not this morning;
Melon flowers bloomed.
~ Bassho
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