Sesshin & Zazenkai

Sesshin / Retreat

Sesshin is a word that describes intensive silent meditation retreats at TTZC. At these retreats we have the opportunity to study the nature of our thoughts and feelings and how they affect our lives; we can also give our minds a chance to settle down, and watch our responses to slowing down our lives in a peaceful environment. Through extensive sitting periods, interviews with a teacher, service, work practice and eating our meals together in the ancient tradition of oryoki, we begin to understand and appreciate the very nature of our lives. It is in this atmosphere that deep and valuable insights, as well as true Buddhist realization, can emerge.

Although ours is a Zen Buddhist community, we also celebrate and encourage creative and alternative forms of sesshin practice. Some retreats are designed without ritual and other formal practices and primarily focus on sitting meditation. Most retreats include Practice of Immediacy In the Arts®; this activity is a way to let go of all expectations, to open to what is present, and express this moment with clay, musical instruments, writing song and poetry. Materials are available or you can bring your own medium.

Sesshin, with a focus on intensive meditation practice, deepens our personal practices and can help us understand our lives more clearly. Participants can sign up for all or part of a retreat and will find a supportive and caring community for developing their individual meditative practices.

Zazenkai / 1-Day Retreat

A zazenkai is a mini-retreat; it's a one day version of sesshin, usually scheduled on a Saturday or Sunday. A typical zazenkai begins at 9:00 a.m. and ends at 4:00 p.m. The day focuses on sitting meditation; there is also a period of work practice and the opportunity to meet with a teacher. Lunch is usually potluck, and participants eat informally and maintain silence. For those of us who have difficulty scheduling several days for sesshin, a zazenkai gives us the opportunity to sustain our personal meditation practice in a community setting.

Sesshin Guidelines

  1. Participants are encouraged to attend the full week if possible.
  2. Recognizing that this is not always possible, entry into sesshin on other than the first day must be accomplished during one of the following times:
    1. Before the first dawn zazen period on the day of entering
    2. After breakfast but before the end of samu at 10:30 AM
    3. During the afternoon break, after lunch but before the afternoon period begins at 3:35pm no later than 3:00 PM
    4. After dinner, before zazen begins at 7pm but no later than 6:30 PM
  3. Once entered into sesshin, participants are encouraged to maintain a continuous participation until they must leave. Sporadic participation, i.e., attending a portion of one day here, and a portion of one day there throughout the week is to be discouraged.
  4. The teachers and the Board of TTZC would like to request that those who participate on the last full day of sesshin spend the night and take part in the closing and clean up of sesshin the next morning. Also, it is requested that those members who are commuting to sesshin return on the last day to join the other sesshin participants and assist in clean up of HVZC. And we’d also be grateful to any non-participants one who are willing and able to lend a hand. Since there’s a lot of work to do, and as we ‘strive to leave no trace’, participating in these efforts is a great way to be of service to TTZC and to HVZC.
  5. None of the above is an absolute requirement. Students with special needs who have a strong desire to attend what portion of sesshin they can, MAY be approved after consultation with one of the teachers.

Sesshin Fees

To assist in preparation for sesshin, and to be fiscally responsible, the Board of Directors has established the following policy:

  1. Participants who register seven days or more prior to sesshin will be entitled to an early registration daily fee of $36/member or $42/non-member. Registration is defined as full payment received by the Program Coordinator seven days prior to the start of sesshin, or payment postmarked seven days prior to the start of sesshin.
  2. Participants who register less than seven days before sesshin begins will pay a daily fee of $42/member or $48/non-member. Payment must be received prior to attendance; on-site registration will no be available.
  3. To secure our ability to rent offsite facilities for sesshin we need a minimum number of participants registered and paid three weeks in advance of the start of sesshin. Applicants who register later may not be able to participate due to limited space.
  4. TTZC will do its best to refund cancellations to the extent there are sufficient participants to cover the fixed expenses associated with running sesshin. Refunds will be at the discretion of the sesshin coordinator and teacher(s) leading that sesshin.

Dana for Teachers

A dana basket will be set up in sesshin for the Roshi and Senseis. Expressing appreciation for the Dharma, and the long years and difficult practice teachers undergo to bring it to their students, is a widely accepted practice in Buddhism.

It is important for students to realize that Nicolee, who is self-employed, must work more before and after sesshin to make up the difference for her lost income. The teachers of TTZC have spent much time and effort in order to make available the intensive training that is absolutely necessary to deepen students’ understanding. For this reason, students are encouraged to make a donation of $30-50+ for their primary teacher at that sesshin, and an appropriately equivalent donation for any secondary senseis that may participate and teach. There may be others who can afford more, or some who cannot afford that much, so please offer what you can.