Applications due by Monday, Feb. 25
Sesshin is a period of intensified Zen training, usually lasting from 4-7 days. The roots of this practice trace back to the time of the Buddha in India, when monks gathered during the rainy season for several months of secluded meditation. The primary inspiration for sesshin, in fact, lies in the example of the Buddha himself, sitting beneath the Bo tree for 7 days and nights, in his final great exertion to realize Full Enlightenment for the sake of all beings.
The Japanese word sesshin derives from two characters:setsu, meaning to unify, collect, or touch, and shin, meaning heart-mind. As these terms suggest, sesshin is a time dedicated to collecting and unifying the normally scattered mind in order to focus it inward, like a powerful laser beam, to discover the deepest truth of one’s own Self-nature, the source of all wisdom and compassion.
Traditionally the high point of Zen monasticism, sesshin has become a way for lay practitioners as well as monks to put aside all worldly concerns and dive straight into the depths of the Buddha Way. Japanese masters have stated that one can accomplish in a rigorous 7-day sesshin what would otherwise require many years of regular daily practice to accomplish. What makes such results possible is the heightened discipline of sesshin, along with a unique combination of elements that make up this mode of practice: many hours each day of zazen, or Zen meditation; daily teishos, or Dharma talks by the teacher; and dokusan (also known as sanzen), the private interviews with the teacher, taking place at least once a day.