Summer ango, meaning “peaceful dwelling”, at Grail House in Cornwall, NY is a unique opportunity to step off the habitual tracks of our busy lives, to slow down and breathe. It’s a chance to do an intensive retreat, live in community, and study closely with Roshi Enkyo O’Hara and the Village Zendo teachers, in the green surroundings of the Hudson Valley.
The month begins and ends with weeklong silent meditation retreats, each providing the rare gift of silence held in the container of traditional Zen form. Alongside the core activity of sitting and walking meditation, the days follow a schedule of body practice, work practice, Dharma talks, group meals taken in the oryoki ritual style of Japanese temples, and services with chanting. In the middle weeks we offer two interactive retreats. One is a week of deep personal study of the Zen precepts and the other is an arts week using painting and poetry as means for investigation. Mornings and evenings we remain in silence, while we engage in group discussion and activity during the day. Yoga is offered at times as one option for daily body practice. You are welcome to join us for one, two, three or all four weeks. Any amount of time can offer a profound taste of peaceful dwelling.
Ango Setup, July 18–20
Come a couple days early for informal meditation and to set up the retreat center.
Dai Sesshin Retreat, July 20–29
Dai Sesshin is a ten-day intensive retreat. The spacious schedule includes five hours of meditation with ample time for rest and exercise. There are chanting services, three oryoki meals in the meditation hall, and the opportunity to have individual meetings with seasoned Zen teachers. Please consider challenging yourself to participate in this deep practice.
Precepts Study Week, July 31–August 5
Precepts Study week culminates in Jukai, a ceremony in which participants vow to follow the Zen precepts for ethical conduct. If you are interested in participating in Jukai, please contact the Village Zendo for arrangements and details. If you are not taking Jukai, you are welcome to join our study of the precepts and the selected ango text under the guidance of Senior Student and Priest Lisa Soshin Dufour. Study takes place during morning and afternoon sessions and provides a creative, challenging and supportive environment in which to experience the teachings. There will also be daily meditation, chanting services and oryoki meals served in an informal style. The week will end in a joyful community ceremony for those formally receiving the precepts.
Obon, August 3
A ceremony to honor all those who have died and feed the Hungry Ghosts, and a floating lantern ceremony at a nearby stream.
Arts Retreat Week, August 7–12
The Arts Retreat has two parts and you may register for one or both. The first four days (8/7-8/10) approach the study of Zen through the practice of painting. This is an exciting chance for both beginning and more experienced participants to work with watercolor under the guidance of Emma Seiki Tapley, long term student of the Village Zendo and painter. Over the weekend (8/10-8/12), Roshi Enkyo O’Hara will lead a writing workshop. We will read Zen poetry together and write our own. As in the other weeks, there will be chanting services and informal oryoki meals as well as meditation periods every day throughout the week.
Shuso Sesshin Retreat, August 14–19
￼Shuso Sesshin is an intensive five-day retreat with the same daily structure as Dai Sesshin. This sesshin culminates the month of ango practice and allows participants the opportunity for profound depth and insight. On the final day (8/19), the Shuso Hossen ceremony is a rite of passage in which the practice leader (shuso) becomes a senior student in the Village Zendo community. The shuso gives her or his first Dharma talk and is challenged by the group in a lively question-and-answer dialogue called “Dharma Combat.”