For those of us who own any equipment, it is a given that the more complex the equipment, the more frequent is the maintenance required. While a bicycle requires an adjustment once in a while, missing such an adjustment is usually not too critical. A car requires much more care, and an airplane requires constant attention. A retreat can be thought of as a kind of “tune-up” for one’s practice, one’s life. The more complex such a life, the more frequently a retreat is necessary. Ironically, the more complex one’s life, the more difficult it is to make the time and space for such a retreat. While those religious people who take monastic vows usually participate in retreats frequently, it is those of us who have careers, spouses, children, and other responsibilities who are more in need of the retreat experience. Regular participation in retreats is a vital part of the resident training at the Zen centers. It can become an even more vital part of the training of those of us who do not have the daily support of a practicing community.
Yong Maeng Yong Yin (two and three days)
The intensive Zen meditation retreat known traditionally as Yong Maeng Jong Jin (“to leap like a tiger while sitting”) is a period of sustained practice designed to help us realize our true nature and help all beings. These periods of focused practice are the heart of Zen training and are suitable for both the beginner and the seasoned practitioner. They are an excellent opportunity to clear the mind of habitual thinking, and support practice in everyday life. The daily schedule, done in silence, includes sitting, chanting, walking, and bowing meditation, as well as work practice. Vegetarian meals are served in a traditional temple style. Periodically, YMJJ are led by a Zen Master or Ji Do Poep Sa Nim (“dharma master”), who gives talks and kong-an teaching interviews.
Kido chanting retreat
A Kido (“tight dharma” or “energy path”) is an intensive meditation retreat using Zen-style chanting as a means to clear the mind and attain your true self. Chanting is a powerful tool for rapidly focusing your energy to directly experience the full potential of our original nature. Participants chant the name of the bodhisattva of compassion, “Kwan Seum Bosal”, keeping rhythm on percussion instruments. Vegetarian buffet lunch.
Kyolche: traditional winter and summer retreats
A Kyol Che (“coming together”) is a longer, intensive meditation retreat held in the winter at Borisa (1 month). It is modeled after the traditional winter and summer retreats in the mountain Zen temples of Korea. Kyol Che is a time to investigate your life closely. From this experience can arise a clearer, more compassionate direction, and more harmonious relationships with all aspects of life.
Conducted in silence, the daily schedule includes sitting, chanting, walking, and bowing meditation, as well as work practice. Meals are eaten in silence in traditional temple style. The retreat leader gives dharma talks and kong-an teaching interviews.
Kong-an teaching interviews
Kong-ans are a powerful practice tool unique to Zen, used to test the clarity of a student’s mind. The traditional kong-ans are recorded anecdotes involving Zen practitioners. Usually kong-ans call for completion, or have an error built into them. Their seemingly paradoxical nature comes solely from our attachment to words, or our clinging to our ideas or opinions. In reality, kong-ans require common sense and compassion. Ultimately every moment of our life can be seen as a kong-an calling for this same common sense and compassion. That is the correct function of our true nature.
Borisa offers a completely independent apartment of bio-construction, where you can enjoy the peace and beauty of these mountains and do a solo retreat, or have the possibility of joining the simple life and daily zen practice that takes place in the Zen Center.