NOVEMBER 18 - 23, 2020
Shobogenzo Bukkyo (Buddha Sutras)
with Abbot Shohaku Okumura
with Abbot Shohaku Okumura
As we cannot hold genzo-e in the usual way at this time, we're offering a slightly modified online version. Participants will do most of their shikantaza on their own following a suggested schedule and will join the online session twice daily for a communal sitting period and Okumura Roshi's lecture.
Deep study of Dogen Zenji’s teachings as a means of truly understanding the practice of regular intensive shikantaza is one of the three elements of Sanshin's mission. It's an antidote to the "Zen sickness" described in the "Zazenshin" fascicle of his Shobogenzo. That danger can come with doing a lot of sitting with gaining mind—searching for a peak experience or some personal benefit. Thus dharma study is not an end in itself but assists our sitting practice. As our ancestor Kodo Sawaki Roshi often said, "All Buddhist scriptures are only footnotes to zazen."
hOW VIRTUAL GENZO-E WORKS
Sanshin's campus is closed to everyone but the Okumuras, so there will be no practitioners in the zendo; participants will be practicing from their homes. In order to get the most out of the retreat, one needs to establish a home practice container to support shikantaza and minimize distraction. Zendo practice is designed for this, but it's more difficult to achieve at home. Tips and guidance for home practice are available on our Sanshin Solo page.
This genzo-e was not created as a virtual event in itself but as a means of continuing the longtime retreat practice established at Sanshin while the facilities are closed. Genzo-e are designed to be intensive, and participants will be expected to do their best to maintain a daily schedule based on the one to the right, a slightly modified version of the usual genzo-e schedule we follow at Sanshin. We recognize that people in various timezones around the world will need to make adjustments; you may need to move some of your zazen periods from the end of the day to the beginning, or vice versa. We're also aware that a virtual genzo-e being carried out at home is in some ways more accessible to people who would not otherwise be able to participate in an intensive retreat at Sanshin. In any case, it will be important to fully engage in a daily schedule that includes a significant amount of zazen..
Participants will be carrying out their daily schedules on their own, joining the online sessions coming from the zendo when they occur. The morning and late afternoon online segments each day will include zazen and Okumura Roshi's lecture. As usual, participants will chant the Opening the Sutra verse together before the lecture and the Four Bodhisattva Vows afterward. Chant sheets will be available for download before the genzo-e.
Okumura Roshi will not be taking live questions after his lectures, but there may be some opportunity to send in questions by email to be answered at some later point in the genzo-e.
There will be basic help available by email if you have issues related to joining the online sessions. You may wish to download Zoom ahead of time and test it to make sure you know how to use it. It's free and easy to use; most people have no trouble. You'll need to know how to see and hear what's happening and how to mute your mic..
In general, please approach this virtual genzo-e the way you would approach any retreat or sesshin, although being at home will make this more of a challenge. Sit shikantaza with the usual intensity and wholeheartedness, do your best to minimize distraction, maintain silence, and devote yourself to practice for the duration of the event.
What if I can't manage to follow the suggested schedule?
No one is watching you, so your choices are your own. If you need extra time for dinner or you have physical limitations that don't allow you to sit for 50 minutes, no one need know that but you. However, maintaining the spirit of the genzo-e is important in order for you to get the most out of it and to support the practice of the community..
Why aren't there breakout sessions or discussion groups?
These things have never been part of Okumura Roshi's style of genzo-e. In order to help maintain focus, the days consist simply of seven periods of zazen, meals, lectures and sleep, with a bit of open time in the afternoons for individual pursuits. Genzo-e is not a seminar but an intensive zazen retreat that includes some Dogen study. It's a modification of our style of sesshin practice, which consists only of 14 zazen periods, meals and sleep.
Why is there so much structure and so many expectations? Since this is just a virtual event, why can't you make it looser so anyone can participate on his or her own terms?
Striking a balance between maintaining the style and spirit of Okumura Roshi's genzo-e and making it possible for people to participate during the pandemic is difficult. While we could just livestream two lectures a day with no other expectations about the practice container, we wouldn't be offering the practice that Okumura Roshi wants to offer. The fact is that genzo-e are not easy; they are intensive and they are about much more than the lectures. We provide guidance and structures for the virtual version similar to that which we provide for the in-person version in order to lend support to the intensive practice of the participants. It would be easy for the lectures to become simply TV-style entertainment programs without the surrounding zazen schedule and a comprehensive, focused approach to practice. In the end, we have no control over what participants choose to do at home, but we do feel responsible for trying to preserve Okumura Roshi's original intention as well as the attitude we maintain in the zendo during a retreat.
When I began genzo-e, I thought it is dangerous to sit so much as we do at Sanshinji without understanding the deep meaning of zazen practice taught by Dogen Zenji. For me, zazen is the main thing; studying Dogen Zenji's teachings is a support for intensive zazen practice. Only intellectual understanding without sitting is not so meaningful.
-- Okumura Roshi
Cost: $200 per household
When you successfully complete your fee payment, you'll be redirected to our genzo-e resource webpage. Bookmark the resource page right away as it is not linked publicly from our website and is available only to registrants. There you will find helpful information about preparing for the genzo-e, the text for study, the chant sheet, the latest communications from the genzo-e crew, and the Zoom link you'll need to join the online segments of the retreat. Access to the resource page is your confirmation that you're on the roster for the genzo-e and there's a virtual seat for you.
If you leave the resource page and forget to bookmark it, view your browser history for the URL.