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Posts Tagged ‘sesshin’

This is another year Reb Anderson invited us to have a jam session with him at a Zen sesshin on the tiny island of Idöborg in Stockholm archipelago. I suspect Reb developed a strong bond with the island and the cold waters of the Baltic sea as he keeps returning to this place just as many of us do.

The little experience of sitting sesshins I have come from this environment, with this teacher and basically this gang so in a way it was like going home. Meeting some of the people at the boat terminal on our way to the island was like seeing old friends again – it felt as if we never parted. Apparently, nothing brings people closer than sitting, surviving the contents of one’s mind, and working, walking, eating and sharing living space in silence for about a week.  Quite a few of the people have been to Green Gulch Farm where Reb’s been teaching and/or sat sesshins with him in other countries.

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“…In an appropriate place for sitting, set out a thick mat and put a round cushion on top of it. Sit either in the full or half-lotus posture. Loosen the robes and arrange them in an orderly way. Then place the right hand palm up on the left foot, and the left hand on the right hand, lightly touching the ends of the thumbs together…

…Now sit steadfastly and think not-thinking. How do you think not-thinking? Beyond thinking. This is the essential art of zazen…”

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Unquestionably, there are more subtle and less exotic ways of sending one’s body and mind into a frenzy of pain and confusion known to the humans of today but at that moment it felt as the right thing to do: going on a sesshin once or twice a year is recommended for lay people and it was time for me to have the first hand experience. I was curious and nervous about the whole thing, excited about meeting a renowned Zen master and my co-meditators, wondered how the sesshin would influence my practice. The prospect of experiencing quite a bit of pain and sharing living and silence with a bunch of strangers for about a week on the island nobody seemed to be able to locate on the map did not scare me probably because I simply did not know what it would actually feel like.

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Since I am not going to Green Gulch at the moment, Green Gulch seems to be coming to me (by way of the following invitation). So I am going on my first Zen sesshin and help me all Buddhas and Ancestors.

Zen Retreat

July 7 to 13, 2008

Teachings by Tenshin Reb Anderson, Roshi

On Idöborg in Stockholm’s archipelago, Sweden

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