September 9, 2013

2013 Germany Sesshin Recap

[Submitted by Meido Roshi]

I'm happy to report that we had another wonderful sesshin in Germany organized by Rinzai Zen Community members there.  Participants from Germany and Switzerland gathered once more at the Kapuzinerhof in Laufen, a restored monastery founded in 1655, which lies just outside the medieval city gate of this quiet town on the German/Austrian border.

Our zendo was once again set up in the old monk's choir, but the clear and cooler weather allowed us to make great use of the monastery grounds.  During free practice periods in the afternoon and evening, individuals and groups walked the wooded path along the monastery wall, which is marked by the stations of the cross and was used in past years for contemplation by the resident monks.  Just outside the choir is the entrance to a small monastery cemetery where many of the original monks are buried, and beyond that a larger cemetery with graves and stone tombs stretching back into the 1700's:  these locations were ideal for free meditation periods into the late evening.  Finally, we were able to have outdoor teisho in the cloister garden during which I lectured with a special emphasis on the "direct pointing" which is the hallmark of our tradition. 

This is our fourth annual sesshin in Laufen.  A core group of participants have attended all four, and they demonstrate an increasing familiarity with the forms and schedule of sesshin.  This is wonderful to witness, and of course makes things all the smoother for newer practitioners.

I'd like to thank everyone for their effort, and particularly the following students who performed sesshin duties:  Kai-Uwe Nolte served well as our jikijitsu, his first time in that role.  He was assisted by Thomas Neumann.  Raymond Schroder anchored the zendo as tanto, and Anselm Stahl served dual roles as shika and inji.  Our handaikan were Nora Helbling and Dominic Karcher.

Finally, I was especially pleased to conduct the first zaike tokudo (jukai) ceremony for a member in Germany.  Anselm Stahl (shown in the photo to the right) was given the dharma name Anzan ("peaceful mountain"), which suits him very well in several ways.

We look forward to more practice with our dharma brothers and sisters in Europe next year...and many thanks again to everyone who made this retreat possible.

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