The mysterious source of the bright is clear and unstained;
branches of light stream from that dark.
Trying to control things is only delusion,
but hanging onto the absolute isn’t enlightenment, either.
We and everything we perceive
are interwoven and not interwoven,
and this interweaving continues on and on

— Shitou Xiqian

 

A Retreat With John Tarrant and Friends

Winter is a time to gather, by fires and in kitchens, or on a hilltop to look at the moon on a cold clear night. We see into each others eyes and also see the vastness there, inside each other. At this long retreat (sesshin) we will gather and find ourselves inside the worlds of bright and dark, of form and emptiness, and find the way they weave together and stand apart. We will discover ways of being that we hadn’t imagined until now. The landscape of who we are and who we are together changes, then. Something new comes into being, awakens, without anyone having deserved it at all.

Shitou Xiquian  is a teacher from the 8th century in China who is also one of two teachers from whom all the modern zen schools have descended. Taking Part in the Gathering (Sandokai) is his most well-known work. In his poem’s six verses he lays out a vision of the nature of reality.

At this retreat we will have ample meditation and talks, individual conversation with teachers and the opportunity to discover for ourselves, again and again, the branches of light streaming from the darkness. At the turn of the year, it’s good to have this chance, to dip into this spring, to start again and see the world for the first time.

The retreat will take place at the beautiful Santa Sabina Center, tucked into the hills of San Rafael on the campus of Dominican College. There are trails to walk on, delicious food, gardens, fountains, courtyards and art spaces. Come full or part time. No need for any particular experience of meditation or Zen koans necessary. You will be welcome.

 

Only commuter registration is available. All residential spaces are filled. For information about any waitlist opportunities, contact  Jan Black at janfblack@comcast.net.  No further scholarships are available for this retreat.

 

Register

 

 

Dates:
Monday, January 15, 7pm – Sunday, January 21, 12pm, 2018

Contact:
For questions about the retreat, please contact the registrar Jan Black at janfblack@comcast.net. For questions about scholarships, please contact Andrew Kerlow-Myers at scholarships@pacificzen.org.

By signing up for this retreat you are agreeing to our cancellation policy

Schedule:Morning meditation starts with tea at 6am. Meditation periods of 25 minutes are interspersed with walking meditation and walks outdoors. There are 3 vegetarian meals and there is ample time allotted for rest and writing and walks in the gardens or the hills. There are two dharma talks each day, one in the morning and one in the evening. Individual conversations with teachers are available throughout the retreat for those who wish to talk about their practice and what’s appearing in their practice. The retreat is silent in public spaces and quiet elsewhere. Meditation instruction is available as needed. Both meditation cushions and chairs are provided. If you have questions about the retreat please ask the registrar.

 

Taking Part in the Gathering

The mind of the great Indian Immortal
moves seamlessly between East and West.
It’s human nature to be quick or slow,
but in the Way there are no northern or southern ancestors.
The mysterious source of the bright is clear and unstained;
branches of light stream from that dark.
Trying to control things is only delusion,
but hanging onto the absolute isn’t enlightenment, either.
We and everything we perceive
are interwoven and not interwoven,
and this interweaving continues on and on,
while each thing stands in its own place.
In the world of form, we differentiate substances and images;
in the world of sound, we distinguish music from noise.
In the embrace of the dark, good words and bad words are the same, but in the bright we divide clear speech from confusion.
The four elements return to their natures
like a child to the mother.
Fire is hot, the winds blow,
water is wet, the earth solid.
The eye sees form, the ear hears voices,
the nose smells fragrance, the tongue tastes salt and sour.
Everything, depending on its root, spreads out its leaves.
Both roots and branches must return to their origin,
and so do respectful and insulting words.
The darkness is inside the bright,
but don’t look only with the eyes of the dark.
The brightness is inside the dark,
but don’t look only through the eyes of the bright.
Bright and dark are a pair,
like front foot and back foot walking.
Each thing by nature has worth,
but we notice it is shaped by its circumstances.
Things fit together like boxes and lids,
while the absolute is like arrows meeting in mid-air.
When you let these words in, you encounter the ancestors;
don’t limit yourself to your own small story.
If you don’t see the Way with your own eyes,
you won’t know the road even as you’re walking on it.
Walking the Way, we’re never near or far from it;
deluded, we are cut off from it by mountains and rivers.
You who seek the mystery,
in daylight or in the shadows of night,
don’t throw away your time.

— Shitou Xiqian

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