Peaceful Way/All My Relations Zazenkai

8/21/2020, 7:00pm - 8/23/2020, 8:00am at Online

The inspiration for this zazenkai began with the remembrance of those who lost their lives in the bombings of Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9) and honors the memory of all those who suffered or lost their lives as a result of war, violence, oppression, genocide, and all forms of injustice. During this online zazenkai, participants will be invited to include the four heavenly practices of metta (lovingkindess), karuna (compassion), mudita (empathetic joy) and upekkha (equanimity) in their practice.

The other part of this zazenkai name “All My Relations” is a translation of the Lakota words Mitakuye Oyasin. Becoming aware that everything on earth is related and nothing is separate from the earth family evokes a greater sense of caring and respect for all beings. During the Peaceful Way/All My Relations retreat each year, we practice care and respect for the earth and all her inhabitants by eating only foods from our garden or grown locally and products from animals (eggs and milk) who were treated humanely. By decreasing the miles the food must travel, we decrease the use of fossil fuels to transport it. This practice helps us to become aware of how our food comes to us and where it comes from, rather than just picking items off a supermarket shelf with no sense of the effort or suffering that went into their creation. We hope this practice will evoke a more intimate understanding of the interdependence of all beings and increase our gratitude and respect for the people, animals and plants that inhabit the earth with us, especially when considering our food choices. Feeling our connection to all – including other human beings – is perhaps the strongest way to promote peacefulness and avoid feeding the violence and aggression that is also part of our human psyche.

This year's online retreat presents an interesting opportunity. Normally, the tenzo (head cook) for the retreat is charged with finding local items for meals. Now, all of us will have the opportunity to read labels more carefully and think about where the food we eat in our own homes comes from and how it got to us. If you are interested in attending this online zazenkai, it would be helpful to begin discovering local food sources now (if you have not already) so that you will be able to use local foods as much as possible during the retreat. We also ask that you share information about local foods/foodsources in a document that will be available to everyone. Perhaps this retreat will inspire you to continue being aware of how food came to you and intentionally choosing local (and seasonal) foods.

The Peaceful Way/All My Relations Zazenkai will follow a format similar to the Honoring Our Ancestors retreat held in July. We will begin on Friday August 21 at 7 PM with three periods of zazen and end on Sunday August 23 at about 8 AM with a closing discussion. After registering, you will receive instructions on how to participate in the retreat from home. You are welcome to participate in as much or as little of the retreat as is desirable/feasible for you. The following is a summary of the basic schedule.

Friday evening, we will begin with everyone making three bows together (signaled by a bell). There will then be three periods of sitting, which will include some brief precautions and instructions on getting the most out of the online zazenkai. On Saturday morning, we begin at 6 AM with the chanting of the Verse of Atonement and Three Refuges and two sitting periods. Morning service (as well as noon and evening services) will consist of a group reading, followed by a breakfast break. There will be two late morning sitting periods starting at 9:30 AM, followed by a talk at 10:50 and lunch service (online) and lunch on your own. There is a self care period at 2 PM during which you can do a body work practice (such as yoga, tai chi or qigong), take a walk, attend to family needs or another activity. This will be followed by a work period, during which you can do a work task of your choice at home, followed by a period of zazen and then evening service. After dinner break will be three more periods of sitting (online) beginning at 7:00 and ending with the Four Bodhisattva Vows. On Sunday morning, we will have two periods of zazen starting at 6 AM, followed by a closing council.

This schedule is only a framework. Some may wish to do more sitting, some may wish to substitute walking or a bodywork practice for some of the sitting. You may find that you need more time for household chores and cannot participate in all of the activities. During the sitting periods, we will turn off our audio and video. In this way, we are still able to feel each others' presence, but can attend to unforeseen needs of young children or pets that might occur during the sitting without disturbing others-- connection and flexibility.

There will not be a formal charge for the Peaceful Way/All My Relations Zazenkai. Instead, we invite you to make a free will donation of any amount you would like on our Dana webpage here. Please indicate in the comments that your donation is for the Peaceful Way/All My Relations Zazenkai. Register by Monday, August 17. For more information or questions about the zazenkai, email Roshi at myoyu.roshi@greatplainszen.org.