Last-minute snafus left us with an intimate retreat of five participants, which fit very nicely into the zendo. Participants committed to two periods of sitting in the morning and one in the evening, with optional periods throughout the day.
The wake-up bell
Participants on "Why Sit?": I sit because . . .
. . . I need to be grounded and relaxed. I also sit to strip away my outer shell and expose my raw self.
. . . it increases my attention to my needs and those of others, as well as enabling gracefulness.
. . . it's my communion with God, and to lessen anxiety and seek clarity on things I'm facing in my life.
. . . it keeps the big picture in focus and makes zen teachers less annoying. Also I sit for no reason.
. . . it is the only thing that makes sense -- without really making sense of anything.
We practiced silence before noon, communicating in writing except at our morning dharma talks.
The Falls were full.
There was daily work practice and shared food preparation.
Striving for no-rank, each of us gave a talk and led discussion on one day of the retreat.
The talk subjects were:
Not identifying with the self
Is it ok to die?
Labels, taboos and emptying the mind of its furniture
The road to Christianity and meditation
Love and non-dogmatic zen
There were esoteric demonstrations,
and late night conferences.
Anne-Laure awaited a wilderness permit.
Greg, Carl, Tom and Paul set out into the wilds.
Arriving at a mineral spring we tested the waters,
and adjusted gear before heading higher.
We arrived at our destined lake in cold rain,
but after meditating a few minutes in the wind and wet we ate while a big coyote watched us.
We returned to snow,
landing outside the zendo,
and recording our careful steps.
Eventually the sun emerged.
Later we set out for a nearby resort lake,
where we did nothing.
A passerby sought guidance -- and gave it.
Hot cider saved our beings.
Lakeside yoga and tai chi
On the way home we found it possible to walk on water without getting wet feet.
Anne-Laure exulted in the drumming of a grouse.
The next afternoon there was nothing half so worth doing as messing about in Carl's boat.
And then it was time to say goodbye to all our company.