Sesshin: Meditation Retreat
Sunday July 17 to Saturday July 23, 2022
We warmly invite you to this full-immersion residential Zen meditation retreat, set amid the beauty of St Arnaud, just over an hour's drive from Nelson, New Zealand. Shugen Arnold Roshi, the abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery and the head of the Mountains and Rivers Order, will be present at the retreat as the teacher.
Characterised by silence and deep introspection, sesshin is recommended to anyone who is sincerely interested in experiencing intensive Zen training and deepening their meditation practice. Sesshin is an unbroken stream of aware spiritual practice. We wake up each day before dawn to begin a schedule that includes 7 to 10 hours of zazen, chanting services, formal silent meals (oryoki) in the meditation hall, silent caretaking (e.g. preparing meals or cleaning), and talks by the teacher and senior practitioners. Sesshin is an opportunity to receive personal guidance in private interviews (dokusan) with the teacher. During sesshin we draw from the tremendous strength and encouragement of practising together as a group.
Because the week-long sesshin is a very intensive retreat, those wishing to attend the full week should have prior experience in meditation. If you are a first-time sesshin retreatant, we will arrange an interview by phone before confirming your attendance. This is to help ensure that sesshin is a good fit for your personal circumstances. Once you join sesshin, you are asked to stay until the conclusion of the retreat (after lunch on Saturday). It is possible to join the retreat while it is in progress, up until Thursday evening. Doing just part of the full retreat is recommended for those who are new to sesshin.
In sesshin, dorm arrangements and shared meals mean that people are in close proximity. In order to safeguard as much as possible the health of participants, the requirements for attendance have been set by the Zen Institute of New Zealand in consultation with the teacher:
- Three Covid-19 vaccinations (with an option to have had the fourth vaccine if it becomes available)
- A negative Rapid Antigen Test (RAT test) the day before the retreat, and a second negative test on the day of the retreat (before travelling to the retreat centre).
- Bringing enough RAT tests to the retreat to be able to test daily, if that is called for.
- Beginning the retreat without cold or flu symptoms. Anyone who, before the event, cancels their attendance for health reasons (including a cold or flu) will be given a full refund.
Anyone who becomes ill while in sesshin will either be cared for in a separate isolation dorm, or arrangements may be made to drive the person back to Nelson to isolate there.
These arrangements and protocols may be adjusted in accordance with what is happening closer to the start time in July. All those who register for the retreat will be informed in a timely manner if there are policy changes.
Please contact the organisers if you have more questions about the Covid policy, as it is an important aspect of the retreat.
For people who are unable to attend the retreat in person, we will be live-streaming zazen, liturgy, oryoki meals, and daily dharma talks. Those who attend online will be provided with the week's liturgy, sesshin guidelines, schedules, Zoom meeting numbers etc. The extent of participation is up to you, and engagement is by donation. If you would like to discuss online participation, please email Gensei at firstname.lastname@example.org
Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi is the Head of the Mountains and Rivers Order, and abbot and resident teacher of Zen Mountain Monastery. Shugen has been in full-time residential zen training since 1986; he received dharma transmission from Daido Roshi in 1997.
He has visited New Zealand to lead Zen Buddhist retreats and workshops for many years, and currently offers a programme in Nelson each July.
NOTE: For those not wishing to bring their own bedding: bedding packs are available for pre-order order at $35. See the registration form.
• face mask(s) (although there is no requirement to wear face masks at the retreat)
• warm sleeping bag
• earplugs can be helpful
• woollen hat and gloves
• outdoor clothing and footwear for outside work practice
• loose-fitting clothing for meditation, dark or muted in colour. Shirts should cover the shoulders (e.g. T-shirt and shirts). Please wear long trousers rather than shorts.
Please note that Lake Rotoiti is in a sub-alpine region and does get very cold, especially overnight. Bring plenty of extra layers to ensure you are warm enough for indoor and outdoor work.