Election day in the U.S. is a week from today, November 8. Taigen Leighton, guiding teacher of Ancient Dragon Zen Gate in Chicago, IL, wrote in his sangha newsletter:
“PLEASE VOTE, whether in person, in early voting, or by mail. People from many states receive this message. In all those states many key issues related to our bodhisattva values of benefiting all beings and expressing awakening and kindness will be on the ballot. This election will have major impacts for all of us. We value our deep interconnectedness with the natural landscape, now under threat. This election’s results may seriously hamper any appropriate measures to address world-wide climate breakdown…Further, this election will decide the situation of women’s healthcare, and whether local or national politicians will determine doctors’ and women patients’ health decisions… Moreover, amid massive voter suppression and an atmosphere of hate speech and violence, this election will decide whether our right to vote and our nation’s democracy will might continue. This is not hyperbole. This is not a drill. Please vote and support others to vote.”
Many Branching Streams Zen Centers and sanghas are opening to in-person events, including one-day sittings and longer sesshins. Looking ahead to Rohatsu sesshin, here are offerings from sanghas in several regions of the U.S. (this is not a complete list).
Hartford Street Zen Center’s SZC’s Winter Light Retreat is scheduled to begin the evening of Wednesday, November 30 and end mid-day on Sunday, December 4. HSZC is located in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco. “Everyone is welcome to attend (all or in part) but please do let us know by emailing email@example.com. A more formal schedule will be posted as we near the start date.” This retreat will be in-person though it’s not residential.
Ashland Zen Center (OR) is offering Rohatsu Sesshin from December 5 to 11. Overnight accommodations are available. Guiding teachers Ramana and Stacey Waymire describe this retreat: “Sesshin means touching-uniting heart-mind. Rohatsu (‘eighth day of the twelfth month’) is the day the Buddha, sitting upright under the Bodhi Tree, attained enlightenment together with all beings. Rohatsu sesshin is the cornerstone of our year of practice…
Although we say that Rohatsu is a seven-day sesshin that begins on December 5, Rohatsu actually begins the moment we meet it and say yes. This is your invitation. Say yes and let Rohatsu begin.
Houston Zen Center is hosting an in-person residential Rohatsu Sesshin from December 7 to 12. “Deepen meditation practice and gather the mind during this 5-day intensive meditation practice being held at Auspicious Cloud Retreat Center and led by Abbot Gaelyn Godwin and Rev. Tim Schorre.
Rohatsu means “great cold” and sesshin means “gather the mind.” This is an annual meditation retreat in the cold time of the year, to gather the mind. Historically, it honors Shakyamuni Buddha’s Enlightenment.”
Austin Zen Center will end its Fall Practice Period with Rohatsu Sesshin from December 2 to 9. More information will be available on their website soon.
Brooklyn Zen Center offers an in-person non-residential Rohatsu retreat from December 7 to 11, co-led by Kosen Gregory Snyder, Shingetsu Laura O’Loughlin, Kidō Ian Case, Sarah Dōjin Emerson and Charlie Korin Pokorny, at their Boundless Mind Temple in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.
An online sesshin is offered by Two Streams Zen Sanctuary, located in Western MA and Portugal, “a dedicated practice space for People of Color where the Teachings of the Buddha are made accessible to all who come through our doors seeking Sanity, Community, Healing, and an End to Suffering.” Guiding teachers Ryumon and Anraku write in their newsletter: “Our Virtual Autumn Practice Period continues. We will intensify and deepen our practice with Rohatsu Sesshin starting on Wednesday, 30 November through Wednesday, 7 December. There is a place for you at the table.” To join, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will close with these words from Ryumon and Anraku:
May these days be blessed times
of contemplation and practice, together with all beings.