DSC00203Sesshin literally means touching the mind or embracing the mind. It actually means intensive zazen session. Valley Zendo usually offers a five day sesshin every month from Friday to Tuesday before and after the second Sunday.

There is a verse ‘One foot zazen is one foot Buddha.’  Any zazen is Buddha. One attains a point and becomes aware of the most important matter in life at his or her first sitting. Long sitting or frequent sitting do not matter when the quality of zazen is put into question.

In reality instant enlightenment is likely a part of whole dharma. A confidence may not last forever. One needs rechecking his understandings. Many practices would give correction and inspiration for a practitioner. Those who did not have certain insight should have more chance of intense zazen. Sesshin is a method not for a genius but for common people.

Kosho Uchiyama Roshi invented a form of five day sesshin. Unlike at other temples, at Antaiji practitioners only do zazen and kinhin during sesshin. We count first period and second period and so on. But for sesshin we sit and walk for five days as one period, participants often experience the purity of mind.

There were three notes at the entrance door of zazen hall at Antaiji. ‘(1) No greeting, no chanting. (2) No speech.  (3) Do your  own practice by yourself.’  I felt no speech was most difficult to do at that time.

How many periods are we really sitting? We sit 14 periods a day in summer time and 13 periods in winter time. We sit full or half lotus positions trying to keep upright posture. You may know the same thing written in ‘Opening the hand of thought’ happens to your body and mind.

Remember that zazen is the basis for zen Buddhism. Sitting practice is the front gate toward Ocean of Buddha Dharma. Sesshin may become a vehicle to drive a life of peace and comfort.

For more details, please contact the Resident Teacher at Valley Zendo at  (413) 339-4000, e-mail:, or by mail at 263 Warner Hill Rd, Charlemont, MA 01339.

Let us have a good sesshin! In Gassho,

Eishin Ikeda