Sesshin at Sanshin in Indiana

Sesshin at Sanshin in Indiana

I’ve been reading Realizing Genjokoan by Shōhaku Okumura Roshi and I wanted to come and see how he practice for a long time. Everyone worn me: “they sit crazy amount of time and they do not do anything else”. “That’s perfect” – I thought. I came to attend 5-day sesshin on May 29 – June 3, 2019.

Sanshin Zen Community is a complex of 2 buildings in a beautiful garden. The first building is zendo, community room, the office and Roshi’s quarters. The other building is the dormitory, kitchen and dining room.

The place looked very humble and Okumura Roshi made the same impression on me. I didn’t expect such a famous teacher can be so quiet. I also found a very friendly group of people around him. It looked more like a family home then a temple.

On the other hand, the sesshin schedule was very demanding. We sat 14 rounds, 50 minutes each daily with 10 minutes of kinhin (walking meditation) in between. There was no service, chanting, oriyki, dharma talks, dokusans – nothing. We sat, ate and slept for five days. It’s the style inherited from Kōshō Uchiyama Roshi who was rev. Okumura’s teacher.

Usually,  I practice yoga in breaks during sesshins but this time there wasn’t much time. Meal breaks were very short. Most of the time we spent in zendo. It was difficult for my body and very often I needed to sit in a chair to give my body a break.

The process itself was intensive. However,  you see how deep you are not when sitting zazen but when moving and acting. We didn’t have many possibilities to interact so it was very difficult to feel if this intensity is actually doing anything to me. I felt it more when the sesshin was over.

Fortunately for me, there is Ango, now. So I’ll stay a few more days.


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