Sesshin is an essential part of Zen training. To encounter sesshin is "to touch the heart/mind. Rarely, in this world of hustle and bustle, do we get to live inside the beating heart of retreat. Once there, we find extended, deep and all pervasive silence, liturgy, formal monastic meals, Dharma teachings and meeting with the teacher. Intensive practice periods allow us to go deeper into the mystery of awakening. Dwelling in the ancient hall facing an ancient wall on which is hung the true mirror we deepen our appreciation for our true nature--Loving, Kind, Boundless. Come and live for a time in the way that the ancestors have meticulously passed down to us.
Thank you for your interest in attending Sesshin with the Buddhist Temple of Toledo. Below, you'll find information about the upcoming retreats.
2019 Sesshin Schedule
January 17 - 20, Thurs - Sun. January Sesshin
February 14 - 17, Thurs - Sun. February Sesshin
March 14 - 17, Thurs - Sun. March Sesshin
April 18 - 21, Thurs - Sun. April Sesshin
May 13 - 19, Mon - Sun. May Sesshin.
June 20 - 23, Thurs - Sun. June Sesshin
Note: There is no July Sesshin in 2019.
August 1 - 4, Thurs - Sun. Vow Writing Sesshin
August 12 - 18, Mon - Sun. Jukai Sewing Sesshin
September 12 - 15, Thurs - Sun. September Sesshin
October 24 - 27, Thurs - Sun. October Sesshin
November 14 - 17, Thurs - Sun. November Sesshin
December 9 - 15, Mon - Sun. Rohatsu Sesshin (Shoken students and 2019/2020 Shoken initiates only)
How to Register
BTT Sangha members will receive registration instructions via email each year. Contact the Registrar (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are a member and have not received the instructions.
Am I ready for my first sesshin with BTT?
Sesshin is an intense and immersive experience that deepens our Zen meditation practice. Although we occasionally make exceptions, before coming to sesshin you are expected to:
Sesshin at the Buddhist Temple of Toledo is community-funded rather than a fee-for-service model. Donations from members over the cost of retreat for the entire sangha. Please consider your intention and ability to support for sesshin practice for the community when making your annual membership pledge.
What if I'm not a member? Sesshin at the Buddhist Temple of Toledo is community-funded by the sangha and is mainly held to support sangha members' deepening their practice. On rare occasions someone who is not a member will receive special permission to attend a BTT sesshin -- generally someone with a close personal connection with a Sangha member -- such as a family member joining our Jukai retreat in support for a family member preparing to take Jukai. In these cases, the Temple welcomes a free will donation of any amount to support sesshin practice, but does not require any contribution.
The retreat takes place in a rural setting. There are 3 resident dogs and 1 indoor/outdoor cat, and seasonally many insects including bees, wasps, mosquitos, and ticks, and generous amounts of pollen. At this time, we have no way to accommodate a practitioner with relevant severe allergies. If you have a severe allergy to a less common allergen, please consult the Registrar before making plans to attend.
The retreat dormitory and practice area are in a rustic setting and are not wheelchair accessible. Practitioners need to be able to manage a flight of stairs at least several times per day. The outdoor practice area is a covered porch and at times a special event tent. Pathways to these areas and lavatories are uneven and not paved. People on crutches and using canes have successfully participated in our retreats, but if you have mobility issues please consult the Registrar before planning to attend to make sure it is a good fit.
The address will be emailed with your registration confirmation.
Please park in the fenced paddock to the right of the driveway.
If you are arriving during active Sesshin hours (4:45am-9pm) please park your car and come join us in the house. Please bring only your supplies to sit and eat at this time. You may return to your car to carry your sleeping or other gear during a rest practice period. Please be aware that practitioners are honoring a veil of silence. Be mindful of your actions, but never mind the barking dogs and come into the practice area even if we are in the middle of an activity.
4:45am Predawn wake up bell *
5:20am Dawn Practice Period begins (sitting/walking 3 periods)
7:05am Morning Liturgy
7:30am Oryoki Breakfast
8:20am Samu (work practice) *
10:05am Samu clean-up bell *
10:20am Morning Practice Period (sitting/walking 3 periods)
12:00pm Noon Liturgy
12:30pm Oryoki Lunch
1:20pm Samu & Rest Practice *
2:30pm Afternoon wake up bell *
2:45pm Afternoon Practice Period (sitting, teisho, extended walk)
5:00pm Evening Liturgy
5:25pm Oryoki Dinner
6:15pm Samu & Rest Practice *
7:00pm Evening wake up bell *
7:15pm Evening Practice Period (sitting/walking 2 periods)
8:25pm Closing kinhin
8:35pm Closing Ceremony begins
9:00pm Closing Ceremony ends *
9:30pm Lights Out
*best times to arrive
Notice of Filming:
By your presence at the retreat, you consent to allow the Buddhist Temple of Toledo Great Heartland Sangha to record your likeness and voice and to use these recordings to further its mission by incorporating them in community-building, educational, and promotional works.
- You agree to abstain from recreational use of drugs and alcohol during the retreat. If you must take medicine to sustain your health, take your medicine without disturbing other participants to the greatest extent possible.
- You agree to maintain silence during the retreat, except to ask urgent questions and during designated activities (i.e. Q&A after a dharma talk).
- You will not bring any reading material, except as directed by our teachers.
- You agree to inform the Tanto if you are leaving the grounds, except commuters departing for the night after evening closing.
- You agree to inform the Tanto if you are leaving the practice area for longer than a restroom visit, except during rest practice.
- You agree to refrain from using phones, computers, and other devices during the retreat. If you absolutely must use a phone, do so sparingly and discreetly. You agree to inform the Tanto if you must bring a phone into the practice area.
- Wear dark, loose fitting comfortable clothing with no writing or symbols visible (turn patterned T-shirts inside out) with legs and arms covered.
You are welcome to bring your own zafu and zabuton, though this is not necessary. As part of our daily work practice, you may be asked to walk and work outside, so please bring appropriate attire.
Please bring an oryoki set (three nesting bowls, chopsticks, a spoon, a spatula, and three napkins), as we will eat meals together. Standard oryoki sets are available for $40 in the temple store. For your first retreat, we will give you a loaner oryoki set so you can get a feel for it before committing to a purchase. We serve gluten-free vegan meals; some snacks offered are vegan, others are lactovegetarian, occasionally participants bring snacks that contain gluten to share. If you have needs beyond gluten-free vegan meals, please describe them on your sesshin profile.
Two gender neutral communal bunkrooms host 12 bunk beds, 2 single beds, and a cot. You will need to bring a sleeping bag or sheets and a pillow. Filling out a Sesshin profile will allow you to communicate specific needs in this area and we will do our best to accommodate them. People are also welcome to camp outside, and so please bring a tent if this is an option for you. You may also want to bring an eye mask or earplugs if you are a light sleeper or a flashlight for navigating in the dark.
Bathroom facilities are limited. It is preferable that visitors to use the outside toilet facilities (outhouse or contemporary portable toilets when available). Indoor bathing access is limited and there are two outdoor showers, so please plan accordingly. You will need to bring clothing, a towel and toiletries appropriate to season and the duration of the Sesshin. Since Black Oak Farm is a conservation site and is run on well water, we ask that participants use the Navy shower method; turning the water off during lathering periods.
Emergencies and Communication:
If an emergency arises, or you need to leave Sesshin, please let the Registrar, Tanto, or Priests know before you depart. Please contact me with any questions you may have, via text/phone (567-297-0108) or email (email@example.com).