Endless Path Zendo Non-residential Sesshin

Endless Path Zendo Sesshin
June 2016 4-day sesshin. Photo by Greg Sheldon.

Our non-residential lay Zen practice includes non-residential weekend sesshin (Friday evening through Sunday afternoon). In our sesshin, we go home each night and return to the zendo each morning. We are not working on sesshin on the one hand and then on integrating the deepened awareness of sesshin back into our lives on the other. Rather, we are practicing realization in the midst of our lives. We are doing integration practice as our life. We practice in a zendo, which is in a home. Then each evening we go back to our own homes returning the following morning to our sesshin. This is integration as practice, practice as integration. It is both an advanced practice and a very ordinary one. We are stripping sesshin down to essentials, doing what we need to do to live the Dharma as this very life.

Jataka Sesshins

  • Sesshin Participants Jataka Sesshin 2015
    October 2015 7-day Vermont Jataka sesshin

Since 2009, each October, Rafe has been leading a unique working person’s, jataka tale sesshin, with Sunyana Graef, Roshi, teacher and founder of the Vermont Zen Center, as well as, every Spring, with Taigen Henderson, Roshi, at the Toronto Zen Center.

These hybrid sesshin are designed for people with jobs and families. They offer full sesshin schedule on the weekend but, during the week, people sit in the morning and have dokusan, then go to their jobs, returning in the evening for teisho and a second dokusan.

The teishos by Rafe at these sesshin are always on the jataka tales. These stories, the past-life tales of the Buddha and his own efforts, challenges, struggles, and difficulties while working to embody the Way and realize the Path of Wisdom and Compassion, are inspiring. Through them we come to see that the challenges we face in our work and in our lives, right now, are exactly the Path the Buddha himself trod. There is nothing we need to turn from, nothing that needs to be seen as outside the Way. Our lives as they are, are the Way. 

Anyone working with Rafe is welcome to attend Jataka sesshin at the beautiful Vermont Zen Center in the Fall. It is a truly lovely facility and a mature and warm-hearted Sangha. This is a great opportunity to strengthen and deepen one’s practice. Rafe gives the teisho each day, and will provide dokusan to those with whom he is working.

After the weekend of full sesshin schedule, those who come from Rochester can, during the day, open their laptops and work, stay in touch with home, do yoga, sit extra zazen, head to nearby Lake Champlain for hikes, etc., etc. The days remain free and open. Breakfast, light lunch, and dinner is served every day.

Sesshin Schedules

Opening Night 5:30—Informal meal for participants followed by Opening Ceremony at 7:00, ending with "Great Vows for All" at 9:00 p.m.

Daily
7 a.m. — Tea ceremony, Kentan, "Torei Zen ji: Bodhisattva Vow", zazen, dokusan
9:30 — Work “chanting service,” work assignments, work period
10:30 — Snack, tea, rest
11:00 — Zazen
12:00 p.m. — Chanting service
12:20 — Zazen
12:30 — Lunch, clean up, rest
1:30 — Zazen
2:00 — “Hakuin’s Chant,” teisho
3:00 — Zazen, dokusan
5:00 — Dinner, clean up, rest
6:00 — Rest
7:00 — Zazen, dokusan
9:00 — Great Vows for All

Last Day
7:00 a.m. — Tea ceremony, Kentan, "Torei Zen ji: Bodhisattva Vow", zazen, dokusan
9:00 — Teisho
10:00 — Zazen
10:25 — Snack, tea, rest
11:00 — Zazen
12:00 p.m. — Lunch, clean up, rest
1:00 — Zazen, dokusan, closing words
3:30 — Chanting service, Great Vows for All
4:00 — Tea and sharing (in zendo)
Friday Night 7:00—Opening Ceremony followed by zazen 9:00—End of formal zazen: 4 Vows

Saturday & Sunday
AM 4:30—Wake-up bell
5:00—Way of the Bodhisattva, zazen and dokusan
6:30—Breakfast
7:00–9:00—Work period
9:00–10:30—Rest period/zazen
10:30—Jataka Tale talk and discussion/informal zazen
PM 12:30—Lunch then rest period
2:00—Dogen’s Way zazen/dokusan
4:00—Chanting then informal zazen
5:15—Dinner followed by rest period
7:00— Dogen’s Way zazen/dokusan
9:00—End of zazen, Four Vows
9:30—Refreshments

Monday–Thursday
AM 4:30—Wake-up bell
5:00—Way of the Bodhisattva, zazen and dokusan
6:30—Breakfast, followed by unscheduled time
PM 12:30—Informal lunch
5:15—Dinner
6:30—Chanting: Sandokai
End of chanting—Jataka Talk
End of talk—Zazen and dokusan
9:45—Refreshments

Friday Morning
AM 4:00—Wake-up bell
4:30—Zazen and dokusan
End of Dokusan—Final words, followed by Closing Ceremony
Housecleaning, Breakfast