Retreats are an opportunity to break through our delusions and attain our true self. We do this by intensive practice: bowing, chanting, sitting meditation, walking meditation, and kong-an interviews. We offer short one-day retreats (essentially 9 a.m. to 4 p.m) and multi-day retreats (full days from 5 a.m. to 9:40 p.m., with the first day beginning in the evening at 6:30 p.m. and the last day ending at noon).
Retreats take place in silence. Outside of interviews and dharma talks, speech and writing only occurs when necessary, functional, and brief. We keep silence not only in the dharma room, but during work period and breaks, whether we are on the Zen Center grounds or taking a walk in the neighborhood. In support of our internal silence, we also recommend that people not read during retreats, not even Buddhist literature, and that they not keep diaries or journals.
On short one-day retreats, participants bring a brown-bag lunch. On other retreats, vegetarian meals are served and eaten in a formal temple style. The meal form is explained during orientation, and people are helped through it during the retreat when necessary.
Most of our retreats take place at the Zen Center in Lawrence, and people from out of town usually stay there. We provide mattresses. You should bring comfortable clothes, a pillow and bedding, toiletries, and towels.
During retreats we act together, not according to our desires of the moment. It is important to stick to the schedule. If you have special circumstances, you can discuss them in advance with the abbot or guiding teacher. If an emergency comes up during the retreat, you can discuss it with the guiding teacher or the head dharma teacher.