“Before thinking good or evil, what is your Original Face before your parents were born?” 
This koan is inlaid with both timelessness and intimacy. What is our Original Face? This koan suggests the answer can be known from a time before our parents were born and in a place where there is no judgement rendered.  
Long ago, a teacher gave Original Face as a koan to a student, who then searched all through his notes, various writings and commentaries for an answer. In the end, he could find none, and retired to a small hut in the mountains, where he practiced alone. One day, while sweeping his garden, a loose stone hit a stalk of bamboo, going tock!  He wrote a beautiful poem in response: 

One tock and I have forgotten all that I had ever known.  
No artificial discipline is needed at all… 
In every moment I uphold the ancient way, 
Wherever I walk, no trace is left… 

Late fall is a time when the salmon gather at the mouths of coastal rivers, waiting for the rains to swell the streams for their journey upstream. We look forward to journeying this ancient way with you for a few days before the Winter rains come.


Join Us

About This Retreat

This weekend retreat is designed to accommodate both low-cost commuting as well as modest-cost residency at the center. It will not require any previous experience and, in a relaxed environment, will include sitting and walking meditation, talks and sharing, and a chance to meet with a teacher to discuss your practice. The Mercy Center is a century-old convent located in a park-like neighborhood a half-hour South of San Francisco.  

  • Dates – Thursday November 30, 7:00pm to Sunday December 3 noon
  • Location – Mercy Center, 2300 Adeline Dr, Burlingame, CA (3.3 miles and 10 minutes from SFO Airport)
  • Pricing
    • 3-day Mercy Center single room with meals ($154/day), $462
    • 3-day commuting with meals ($70/day), $210

  • Other – There will be a limited number of berths in local homes for commuters; please inquire if interested. We will have a barbeque lunch at a local home on the final day.
  • Registrar and Scholarship Information – Jim Cardin, roseburgzen@gmail.com
  • Transportation – For those flying into San Francisco, Mercy Center is a 4 mile taxi ride away.

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