Gone Sitting: A Few Words on Going to a Zen Retreat

Gone sitting

A few words on going to a Zen retreat.
By James Ishmael Ford

I don’t usually broadcast that I’m going to a Zen retreat. As an old Zen hand I’m reluctant to tell non-Zen friends, because when I do, too often the response is something along the line of, “Boy, I could use some downtime myself.” Me, too. But that is far from a description of a Zen retreat.

My spouse Jan begins preparing a couple of days ahead, picking out suitable clothing, cleaning the oriyoki, traditional ritual bowls and instruments for meals, and perhaps upping her regular sitting practice a little bit. Me, I wait until it’s time to go, throw some underwear and my Zen robes into a bag, hope I remember my oriyoki, and go. After forty years, it isn’t a big deal; it’s just what I do.

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