About the Retreat
After you arrive at the retreat centre a list of rooms will be drawn up on the whiteboard in the dining hall, please select a room you would like to stay in. You should also select a place to sit in the meditation hall (zendo) when it has been set up. There will be an orientation in the meditation hall on sesshin procedures and the retreat centre. Thereafter there will be instruction on zazen (seated meditation), kinhin (slow walking meditation) and other matters relating to the practice. The sesshin schedule will be posted outside the zendo door. Please keep to your originally selected place in the zendo and don’t interfere with others’ mats or cushions, except as necessary during cleaning samu.
What to bring
- warm loose-fitting clothes suitable for seated meditation. Bear in mind it is winter and the temperature can be significantly colder than sea level. Jeans and other pants made of heavy non-stretch material are likely to be uncomfortable.
- bed linen (sheets, pillow slip)
- many people like to bring an extra doona or sleeping bag due to the cold weather
- shoes suitable for jogging / bush walking
- personal medications and hygiene products
- toiletries (though please consider your fellow sitters and don’t use perfumes, after-shaves, and other heavily perfumed items)
- towel, washcloth
- raincoat or umbrella
- bags for dirty shoes, washing
- zafu or meditation stool (if you have one)
- zabuton (large flat cushion on which to place your zafu, if you have one)
- most people like to bring a blanket to put over themselves whilst in seated meditation
- some people bring a yoga mat and do (optional) yoga in the allocated free time
We’ll provide lacto-ovo vegetarian meals. We ask you to put aside all food preferences during sesshin. If you have a medical dietary requirement, you will have noted this on the Application Form. We will do our best to accommodate such special requirements, but cannot guarantee this. If you have any special requirements that have not been notified to us in your Application Form , then we have to ask you to make your own arrangements to bring any special foods. The main meal of the day is lunch.
A light meal will be provided on the evening of the first day, please make arrangements for your own lunch on that day.
Open Way is a not-for-profit organisation. The money you pay to attend sesshin is calculated to cover sesshin costs, and to provide a small surplus. This surplus is used to help Open Way cover its operating expenses and continue to support the founding teacher of Open Way Zen, Master Hogen Yamahata (Hogen san) Hogen-san never charged for his teaching, but you may wish to make a direct donation (called dana in Sanskrit) to help Hogen-san cover his ongoing living expenses whilst in retirement as he organizes his many years of teaching into written form. A dana box will be found in the meditation hall and will be emptied daily by one of the retreat officers.
Samu is a Japanese word that means work service. It generally means the physical work that is part of the everyday life in a Zen monastery, and particularly the work periods during a sesshin. Service here is to be understood as service to the many as One. If the work is carried out mindfully, in a manner based entirely on the activity of collected attention and total carefulness, then it is a continuation and another form of meditation, in which the practitioner learns to maintain the meditative state of mind even in the midst of everyday routine. Samu is an important part of Zen training in a monastery according to the monastic rule established by Chinese Ch’an Master Baizhang in the eighth century.
A roster will be made available before the formal start of the retreat. Please choose some tasks to place your name against. You can also offer to help set up the hall during the first day. Please be prepared to stay after lunch on the last day to ensure all cleaning-up and packing is done.
Rules of behaviour
Open Way retreats are run with a minimum of formality, but attendees will understand the need for everyone to conduct themselves in a way that does not interfere with the meditation practice or safety of others who are attending. The sesshin managers are responsible for the orderly running of the event and reserve the right to request that inappropriate behaviour be discontinued, failing which a request to leave the retreat may be made. A person who is asked to leave in this circumstance is not entitled to a refund of attendance fees or any other compensation.