December 06 Newsletter » Winter Retreat
A Note From Our New Shuso


For some of us, year end Sesshin, coming just after Christmas, is a difficult time to get away.   This time of year is so full of emotional overtones, and we naturally want to be with our families.   Before-Sesshin-mind is filled with so many energies—should I be here, or there—so much longing.  Yet to be able to participate in Sesshin and to hear the Dharma is an incredible opportunity.   There is no substitute for Sesshin in deepening our practice.   

Then Sesshin begins, in the dark days of winter.  Slowly we settle in to face ourselves. Typically, I want everything to be perfect: clear mind, koans quickly passed, a cushy samu assignment.  Also typically, I may be fighting tiredness, feel like the dumbest student in the class, and can’t stand the way the rock salt tracked in from the parking lot feels on my bare feet.  But right here the doorway to realization begins to open a crack. Ah.

Over the course of the week, trying and trying, supported by the Sangha, we discover that we have lost ourselves walking in kinhin; that we naturally step aside to allow someone to pass; that by giving up striving, we find what we were looking for.  Dropping off body and mind; body and mind dropping off.   The week draws to a close, and the bell tolls 108 times to ring in the New Year.  Leaving the mountain, we return to the valley knowing a little bit more about who we are.

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