Bodhidharma, the first Zen ancestor, called Zen “a direct transmission outside the scriptures with no reliance on words or letters.” Residential training, with its emphasis on lived experience rather than theoretical knowledge, is a uniquely powerful way to study and practice Zen. It offers time and space for you to delve into your deepest questions about life and death, and a refuge from the consumerism, distraction and often self-centered ambition of contemporary culture.
Training is guided by the abbot, Shugen Roshi, and head-priest Hojin Sensei, both longtime monastics with decades of experience between them. If you have a serious interest in Zen training, and the flexibility to step out of your ordinary life for a period of a week, a month, or longer, then residency may be for you.
One of the most important and helpful things you can do before you apply is clarify your motivation. Why are you interested in Zen training? Touching in with your aspiration and knowing what brings you to the Monastery will serve you well throughout your residency.
We do our best to provide applicants with a sense of what residency is like, but even with this information, it’s safe to say that your image of what residential Zen training is like will not match the actual experience. In some ways, residency will exceed your expectations, providing you with a transformative experience that continues to unfold in deep and subtle ways long after you leave. In other ways, life here can be very ordinary, and learning to let the mind settle down in zazen takes time and discipline.