The Village Zendo’s annual Winter Retreat has always held special significance for our community as we conclude one year and welcome the next.
Sesshin is an integral element of Zen tradition. Since the time of the Buddha, periodic retreats have been a cherished observance, strengthening and enriching the sangha as well as giving individual practitioners an opportunity to deepen our study and meditation.
This year, the invitation to a deeper letting go is all the more urgent when it is clear that big changes are in store for us.
This retreat offers the opportunity and structure to help you return to the silence and depth that is your true home, right where you are. By sharing periods of zazen, listening to dharma talks, doing interview and mondo with teachers, you will be held in the context of the sesshin container, and experience the flow and meaning of your life from a new perspective. You will also feel the support of sangha and know why practicing in community is regarded as one of the three treasures.
The dharma talks will be on Dogen’s Uji, or “Being-Time,” our study text for Winter Ango. This text shines light on our own current experience of great upheaval, encouraging us to wake up to our innate sense of belonging and responsibility.
You may register for the entire retreat, or by the day.
Morning zazen is open to the whole sangha, while the remainder of sesshin is available to registered participants only. Interviews are offered every day that you are registered, and mondo twice during the sesshin. Orientation will be provided for those that are new to sesshin or the Village Zendo, and recommendations will be given on how to build a strong practice container from home.
Come and join the Village Zendo community as we let go of 2020 and prepare to greet the new year with clear minds and open hearts. The sesshin will end with our customary ringing of 108 bells accompanied by an interactive visual offering of vows from the sangha. And a Year-End party featuring the diverse talents of our sangha!
The following people have registered and entered
the 2020-2021 Winter Ango of Village Zendo, Dotokuji
View Ango Roll
*All fees are suggested, and if you can’t give the full recommended amount, we hope that you’ll give what you can afford. Your participation is important to us. Also, please note that our teachers generously donate their time and teachings. If you wish to contribute to the teachers, you may make a separate donation and put “teacher dana” in the “other reason” box. For questions, please contact our registrar at email@example.com.
- $600 for full sesshin
- $120 per day
- $750 for full sesshin
- $150 per day
- Full Winter Ango – Includes Winter Sesshin (Dec 26-31), Urban Sesshin (Mar 10-13), and Zazenkais between December 26 and March 14
- Members: $1080
- Non-Members: $1300
Click items on the schedule for more information and FAQs. Additionally, FAQs and chants can be found at the bottom of this page.
December 27 – December 30
Morning zazen between 7:30 – 9:00 is open to the whole sangha and will take place at our regular online zendo link. The remainder of the day will only be available to registered participants.
Breakfast & Work Practice
11:25 Extended stretch & movement practice
11:50 Morning Service (Heart Sutra, Sho Sai Myo, Ennmei Jukku) followed by announcements
Lunch & Exercise (Cardio, yoga, outdoor kinhin)
2:00 pm Zazen
2:30 Dharma Talk
3:30 Mondo or Zazen (Mondo on 12/28 & 12/30)
4:05 Evening service (Daihishin Dharani, New Year’s Dharani, Jizo Shingon Dharani)
7:25 4 Vows
Same as above with the following changes and additions to the evening schedule:
11:00 Zazen (optional)
11:30 Zazen (optional)
Optional and open to the whole sangha.
7:30 am Zazen
7:55 Verse of the Kesa, stretch
8:25 4 Vows
Winter Sesshin FAQs
Orientation and Q&A
This orientation offers you an opportunity to start to become more familiar with different aspects of Zen practice and the time-honored tradition of sesshin. Recommendations will be given for creating a strong practice container at home, we will review activities outlined within the retreat schedule, and there will be an opportunity to ask questions. Whether you are new to Zen practice and the Village Zendo community, or a seasoned practitioner, we strongly encourage you to join us so that together we can create a supportive container for all practitioners. A video recording will be made available for those that aren’t able to attend orientation.
Ango Entry Ceremony
This is a traditional ceremony in which we set our intention for intensified practice during Ango. Traditionally, we do this together as we enter the Zendo, say our name and make an offering of incense. This year, we will hold a modified version of this ceremony online. Please note that even if you aren’t registered to attend, you can still ask to be included on our Ango Participants Scroll. An email will be sent to the community for those that aren’t able to attend sesshin, yet wish to be included within our Ango Participants Scroll.
Services & Chanting
Chanting serves many purposes. We chant sutras and verses that have been handed down because of their wisdom value. And we chant seed syllables that are valued for the quality of their sound. Blending all voices into one sound, harmonizing, and joining together are vital aspects of community practice. During our virtual retreat, you will hear both live and pre-recorded chanting, and you are encouraged to chant along with the chant leader (the “Ino”). Click here to view or download our sutras and chants.
The work gatha is a short service to gather our minds and energy, and set our intention as we prepare for work practice.
Work practice, or samu, is an integral part of the sesshin schedule and our Zen training. It is an opportunity for us to bring our concentration and awareness off our cushions and apply our practice to everyday activity. Prior to the start of sesshin, we encourage you to designate some home activities as your ‘formal’ work practice—such as cleaning, dishes, knitting, sewing, artistic expression—so that you can enter into these activities with strong intention.
A talk on Buddhist and Zen philosophy from a Zen teacher or senior student.
Interview with Village Zendo Teachers
Interview at the Village Zendo is a short meeting between a practitioner and a Village Zendo Teacher. It is an old tradition, a time that provides space for questions, expressions, and intimate personal communications. Often a student of Zen will have a question or a response about a koan, or about a reading, or something that has come to mind during retreat. Every meeting is different, private and confidential. In some ways, the Village Zendo interviews follow the old tradition of brisk exchange, and they rarely extend over ten minutes. Nevertheless, it is a supportive aspect of retreat practice.
Breakout Mondo consists of a group of 10-12 practitioners plus a teacher in a break-out room.
Our lives typically involve exchanges with other people. Likewise, in Zen, side by side with silence, there is an appreciation of dialogue. When we formulate a question, we allow ourselves to not know — a favorable position that disposes us to be open to fresh experience. In interview, the exchange is private, whereas with Mondo it is a shared group experience: the question and answer are witnessed. When we recall that the original meaning of koan is ‘public case’ — that is, an exchange witnessed by others, we remember that our practice is not a private affair but one of interpenetration with others. In this retreat, the Breakout Mondo will take place after the Dharma Talk.
108 Bells Ceremony
This is a traditional New Year’s ceremony in which Buddhist temples all over Japan ring their bells a total of 108 times. In our tradition, we sit zazen in the zendo while the doan strikes the large kesu. This year we will hold a modified form of this ceremony online. We hope you’ll be able to join us for this special, meaningful ceremony!
Open sozan is the practice of listening and speaking from the heart. This is one of the ways we traditionally close sesshin, sharing our experience and insight with the community.
Gathas & Chants:
Verse of Atonement
All evil karma ever committed by me since of old,
On account of my beginningless greed, anger and ignorance,
Born of my body, mouth and thought,
Now I atone for it all.
Verse of the Kesa
Vast is the robe of liberation.
A formless field of benefaction.
I wear the Tathagatha teaching,
Saving all sentient beings.
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha
All Buddhas throughout space and time
All Bodhisattva Mahasattvas
Maha Prajna Paramita
Gatha on Opening the Sutra
The Dharma, incomparably profound and infinitely subtle,
Is rarely encountered, even in millions of ages.
Now we see it, hear it, receive and maintain it.
May we completely realize the Tathagata’s true meaning.
The Four Great Vows
Sentient beings are numberless, I vow to save them.
Desires are inexhaustible, I vow to put an end to them.
The dharmas are boundless, I vow to master them.
The Buddha way is unattainable, I vow to attain it.
To view the sutras that will be chanted during morning and afternoon service, and to download our sutra book, please visit https://villagezendo.org/practice/sutras-and-gathas/