The Coming and Going Retreat
Tonight, January 2nd, we begin our annual three-week retreat, the Coming and Going Sesshin, here at Boundless Way Temple. The tradition of setting a particular part of the year for intensive study and practice honors the spirit of the Buddha’s three-month rainy season practice with his disciples.
Here at the Temple, we will be keeping a ‘sesshin’ schedule. (Sesshin is a Zen meditation training retreat.) We alternate periods of sitting and walking throughout the day. There are dharma talks, individual meetings, work practice periods and chanting. Like all sesshin, we will hold silence throughout most of the retreat. We won’t be writing or reading or facebooking or texting. These practices are a way of simplifying our lives to allow us to be more present to ourselves and to our experience of each moment.
Going to sesshin is always a wondrous and challenging opportunity. In the silence and stillness, we work together to support a profound turning toward the source of life—toward the aliveness of each moment. This form of practice is both deeply personal and, at the same time, essentially communal. We support and rely on each other in the silence. We are alone together.
One of the things that distinguishes our Coming and Going Sesshin is that we allow participants to join in for any part of it that is possible for them. Some people are coming for the whole three-weeks, others just for several days. Others will come for just a few periods of practice in the afternoon or before or after work. You are welcome to come by the Temple for any practice period whenever you can. If you would like to stay overnight and join the retreat for a day or more simply, register here.
I would also invite everyone reading this to join with our retreat right where you are by finding some way to deepen your spiritual practice over the next three weeks. What is it that reminds you of what is most holy and sacred in your life? What is the practice that brings you back to your heart? Your practice might be meditation or prayer. It might be reading or walking in the woods—attending church, knitting sox or writing in your journal. Whatever you do that moves you closer to God, I encourage you to do just a little more than usual these next three weeks. And as you do your practice, know that you are joining with us. You are not alone.
For myself, I won’t be reading my beloved New York Times or doing this morning writing practice of exploring and sharing. I will be giving myself over to the daily rhythms of Zen meditation practice—doing my best to meet and appreciate each moment as it arises. No need to keep track of the journey nor to pursue purity and holiness. Just this. The teaching of Zen is that what we are longing for, the peace that passes understanding, is already here—in each moment. I vow to trust more deeply this constant arising life in all its manifestations and to meet what appears as the way itself.
May our practice together be of service to the world in this difficult time.