January 18, 2006

Zen Retreat Recap

This will be a short post since lunchtime's almost over. The retreat was great. It was at Camp Indianola on Bainbridge Island, Washington. To the right is a picture of the beach where we did walking meditation each day. The retreat is actually still going on for most of the group. It's a seven day retreat, but there was an option to just stay for the three-day weekend, which I did since I'm all out of vacation time at work. I took the precepts on MLK day, so now I'm officially a member of the 44th generation of the Lam Te school of Dhyana.

Lam Te is how the Vietnamese say Lin Chi (aka Rinzai, for those more familiar with the Japanese). Dhyana is the Sanskrit word for sitting meditation, which was pronounced "Ch'an" in China and "Zen" in Japan.

UPDATE: I stayed in a very small room with five bunk beds. Thankfully less than half the beds were actually in use. The food was absolutely wonderful. A master of the culinary arts and wonderful lady named Melany prepared organic vegetarian gourmet meals for all thirty-six people at the retreat with separate entrees for the wheat-sensitive members of the group. I was surprised there were so many wheat-allergic folks, I guess almost a third of the people at the retreat couldn't eat breads or cake or crackers or pasta or flour or anything made from wheat. That must really be tough. Being vegetarian is tough enough. Having a wheat allergy on top of that must make it just about impossible to get a real meal outside your own kitchen.

I think we averaged four hours of sitting meditation, with about an hour of walking meditation, every day. The schedule shifted around a bit as some of the time periods were spent in various other activities like the tea ceremony, the precepts and refuge ceremony, and so on. Whoops, gotta go. More later.


At January 20, 2006, Blogger Justin said...

Congratulations - sounds like a good retreat. I went on my first sesshin a couple of months ago.

So are you a Ch'an Buddhist?

At January 20, 2006, Blogger Jules said...

Hi Justin,
Well, sort of... in a way all Zen schools are Ch'an schools, right? :-) The Lam Te school, which is Thich Nhat Hanh's lineage (he's my teacher's teacher), is a little different from what you'd expect to see in Rinzai or Soto groups, or from the Ch'an schools which have remained in China since Lin Chi's time (ninth century). Not a lot different, but a little... Lin Chi's lineage was taken to Vietnam in the eighteenth century. Thich Nhat Hanh has done some things to "westernize" his school's practices, too. For example, most of the chanting is in English, and a lot of it has been put to music, sometimes it's more like singing a hymn than chanting a sutra.

At January 21, 2006, Blogger Justin said...

Ah, Thich Nhat Hanh... I've been along to some meetings of... Ithink they're called the Community of Interbeing. I enjoyed it - I intend to go back sometime. I like the greater emphasis on compassion, but I like the simple directness of Soto.


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