Seven Days of Collecting the Mind
Join us for this time of deepening practice and celebrating Buddha’s Enlightenment.
Every year in December, Zen Buddhists around the world celebrate the enlightenment of the Buddha in a retreat called Rohatsu Sesshin. Rohatsu is Japanese for “eighth day of the twelfth month,” and sesshin means, “collecting the mind.” The retreat culminates with a celebration that takes place on the closest Saturday to December 8, which traditionally is the day Shakyamuni Buddha was enlightened.
Sesshins are Soto Zen meditation retreats that include formal zendo meals, Dharma talks, sitting and walking meditation, and private interviews with senior teachers. During the seven-day Rohatsu Sesshin at City Center and at Green Gulch Farm we step back and engage with full attention in whatever it is that we are doing. This means that when it’s time to eat, we just eat, and that when it’s time to sit, we just sit. The quiet environment and schedule of sesshin is a precious opportunity to settle deeply into ourselves, turn our full attention to the activity of the moment, and thus we cultivate concentration and awareness.
Dogen Zenji, founder of the Soto Zen School said “to study the Buddha Way is to study the self; to study the self is to forget the self.” During sesshin we study ourselves by watching the passing nature of our thoughts and feelings. Sitting long enough allows us to forget the self and to open up to our Buddha Nature.
Shakyamuni Buddha made a vow that he would continue to sit in meditation until he either died or found the truth. On the morning of the seventh day after this vow, he experienced enlightenment. This is one of the reasons why Rohatsu Sesshin is particularly powerful and deep.