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Rohatsu reflections

Participants in Hokyoji’s 2013 Rohatsu sesshin share their experience.

I sat my first Rohatsu sesshin with Nonin Chowaney at Hokyoji in 1990.  I remember it well.  We had invaded Kuwait that day and exiting my vehicle outside the cabin, I slipped on glare ice in the cold black December, new moon, glittering of stars, and dislocated my little finger on my left hand.  What a start to my Rohatsu sitting experience.  In 1996, I sat with Shoken Winecoff and Jikan Kondrick in 20-below-zero temps with our backs at the wood stove and our ventral surfaces freezing cold.  Jikan served me my first ginger tea and it packed a punch that lit an inner fire but did not touch the cold in the zendo.  It snowed about 18 inches and several people could not join us, so we had the place to ourselves and the teaching was to lean into the cold.

Dokai has been so generous to let me sit with the group when my schedule allows.  The evening zazen schedule and morning chosan with the sangha has been a delight for me these past three or four years.  The dharma comes alive around the round table.  The heated zendo is such a great addition; 60 degrees was the low inside, which was 50 degrees above the outside temperature —  cozy compared to the past.

I met Katagiri at Hokyoji in 1986; it was a brief but life altering experience.  We talked about the spring, and the exhilaration of splashing into the cold.  Four years later, I heard of his death and was moved to try and understand what his practice was about. Hokyoji is a special place.  It oozes tranquility, peace and calm — that is, on the outside.  In the zendo, sitting, I have found my mind anything but the aforementioned.  I am blessed to have Hokyoji in my backyard.

— Bruce Carlson

More reflections coming soon . . .