Bone Structure - Rules for sesshin
The bone structure
This is a silent retreat. If you must speak to someone, step out of sight and communicate in a whisper to the jisharyo. The 2 jisharyo are the guardian of the back gate and deal with people's needs. Yet while explaining to others, they should set an example for keeping silence as much as possible themselves.
Traditionally, in the Zendo, only the Jikijitsu and Jisha are allowed to speak. There is absolutely no talking in the Zendo by anyone else.
Remember that you are attending the sesshin to deepen and look within. Don't let your mind wonder around, looking at others, but always turn back inside. When you talk yourself, be aware that you are disturbing others who want to continue their concentration practice.
There will be an opportunity before and after the sesshin to share with the sangha. Use the precious opportunity during the sesshin to direct your entire energies towards the resolution of the great matter.
ZENDO: Please, no socks, hats, gloves, watches, jewellery.
Clothing should be appropriate: dark, plain colored clothing loose enough to permit comfortable sitting. If you are ordained, robes are appropriate in the zendo and for such activities as teisho and tea with the Roshi. Exceptions to the rules about wearing socks can be made for medical reasons. Please speak with one of the jishario.
If you need to change position in the zendo during a round of sitting, please do so as unobtrusively as possible. Please make every effort to keep position and breathe quietly. During the stretch breaks between rounds, please do not stretch your legs straight out into the zendo. Please stand up to stretch. If you need to change positions frequently, you may be asked to sit on the gaitan (visitors' mat).
JISHARIO: There will be 2 jishario (assistants to the head monk). They will be identified at the orientation meeting. It is their job to keep things running smoothly so that everyone can concentrate completely on zazen. They take care of such things as opening and closing doors, turning lights off and on, etc., etc. If you need to miss a round for any reason, please let one of the jishario know. If you are missing from any round of zazen, one of the jishario will look for you. If you have a question, need, or problem, please contact one of the jishario, and if possible and appropriate, it will be taken care of. The jishario may ask you to comply with some zendo rules. For example, they may ask you to remove a watch you are wearing or change from inappropriate clothing.
KEISAKU: The orientation will include a demonstration if you need to know how to ask for the keisaku (the so-called "encouragement stick"). The keisaku will be administered only to those who request it. Do not enter the Zendo when the keisaku is moving.
SANZEN: The route from the zendo and the waiting areas will be pointed out during the orientation meeting. There will also be a demonstration of the bows to be made upon entering and leaving the sanzen audience. If you are one of the 2 people next in order to leave for sanzen, stay at your cushion during kinhin. Please return directly from Sanzen to the Zendo.
KINHIN: The kinhin (walking meditation) routes will be decided by the head monk. Please make every effort to maintain concentration while moving. If you need to use the toilet, please go at the beginning of kinhin, so that the round is not over extended due to last-minute stragglers. There will be no drinking of tea during Kinhin.
SHOES: Please make every effort to get in and out of your shoes as quickly as possible. When removing, putting on, or storing shoes, be considerate of the people following you. Traffic jams at doorways can occur very easily. Always place them in the shoe boxes provided.
BATHING: Traditionally, there is a bath on the fourth day only. We are not that strict, but the showers are very few and their use should be very limited. Please be sure to keep the bathrooms clean and neat.
KITCHEN: The cooks will make every effort to provide healthy, nutritious meals.
The kitchen will be, as much as possible, an extension of the zendo, run with necessary talking only and as quietly as possible.
JIHATSU: We will use traditional nested bowls for all meals during sesshin. If you need to be shown how to use them, a demonstration will be given. When handling the jihatsu for meals, please do so as quietly as possible.
SAMU (work period): Daily jobs will be assigned. The work period will be opened and closed with the striking of the Han (wooden sounding board). Samu is an opportunity to carry your concentration from the cushion to performing a job.
BREAKS: Tea will be available in a designated area during breaks. Please clean up after yourself. Please maintain your silence and concentration during breaks.