Sunday, June 12, 2022

Near and Far the Same Sesshin

photo by Corwyn Miyagishima
                                                                                     Our June 2020 sesshin just concluded, celebrated by the community of participants with joyous cheers and tears.  This was an historic event for our sangha -- our first hybrid sesshin, with 12 people attending in person at the Temple and 24 more people attending on Zoom.  

Because of the pandemic, we have turned toward developing intensive meditation retreats on Zoom, and our sangha now includes students who practice from a geographic distance from the Temple as well as local folks.  In the past, far away seemed truly far away.  

Since spring of 2020, we have found a way to provide a Zen retreat experience for people everywhere in the world on-line, and our sangha has expanded because of it.  With COVID numbers finally becoming slightly lower in Worcester, we took a chance on inviting a few students experienced with in-person sesshin, and our various Temple committees:  technology, in-person safety, sesshin and communications all worked together to create a hybrid experience.    

People coming in person were all fully vaccinated and also took COVID tests the morning of sesshin, so that we could create a safe in-person experience.   This particular sesshin included attendees from California and many Northeastern states, France, Belgium, the UK and Denmark, as well as people from nearby in Massachusetts.  

We took as our topic the koan from the Gateless Gate collection:  "Ordinary Mind is the Way." and David Rynick Roshi, Dharma Holder Alan Richardson and I offered talks and individual meetings throughout the time we had together.  

We experienced a deep connection between near and far -- the ordinary barriers of time and space melted away, and so our tanto (head seat) Adam Monty, who is also the president of the Temple, named it the Near and Far the Same Sesshin.  Rev. Corwyn Miyagishima was the tanto of the online portion of the sesshin and supported people through his dharma heart and his technology skills. 

I am so grateful for everyone who created and participated in this retreat.  Our next hybrid sesshin will be in late July through early August, and the in-person component will be open to anyone who is vaccinated (and boosted) providing that COVID numbers stay the same or diminish.  And everyone is invited to join on Zoom, wherever you are in the world!