Zanshin is a Japanese word meaning Reminding Heart or Mind. It is the name of the final position of the body in Kyudo ( Japanese archery) after releasing the arrow. When the mind is clear, the breath is slow and relaxed. The form has changed to formlessness, in a state that would be called Wu Wei 无为 in Chinese. At least as I understand it, for this case.
I found it interesting that after the intense training of Kyudo for prior week, my next training after discarding the form, and being left with the “Heart” is the formless training of Heart Chan retreat. Which in one part of the sessions we spoke and discussed the heart/mind.
The Heart Zen retreat was held in Monterey Ca at the Asilomar conference center. This complex on the state park grounds next to the ocean is the complete opposite to the the high mountain heat and rustic monastic life of the Sonoma Mountains training.
The weather was comfortable somewhat on the cool side, but still bearable with a light jacket. This time I shared a room with my cousins, & wife. No walking for a 1/8 mile uphill to use the bathroom. Also no 5:15am zazen, It was 6:30 a.m. this time, extra hour for sleeping…sweet. There was no official lights out at 9:30 however, we did not finish with the evening sessions and meditation until 9:00pm.
Friday was our first session, it was more of an introduction and welcome to everyone with some review and basic practice. We had games to play on a couple of occasions.
Sat. morning began the work, with meditation at 6:30am after some motion Zen drills. From there we moved to breakfast.
The meals we nice and well prepared. The service was good, and one lacked for nothing. The meals were time for real social talk. As we were a dining hall with several other groups, that part did not feel as intimate as last year with just our group eating together. We were placed in a smaller back room for the first couple of days. Which was nice than the front area we were in on the final days. It was a small thing though due to our human ability to tune out.
After lunch a short break, that was welcome. A short nap or walk was called upon to fill the spot.
Over the next couple of days we followed the same pattern. the grounds were interesting.
A mix of tress, sand and water.
Our next session were lectures on things such as Having a Perfect life ( Sat.) & Living in the Zone ( Sun.). Then a Break and followed with more meditation 30 minutes.
The next lectures
How to Cultivate Our own Spirit ( Sat.), How To Live a Fuller life ( Sun) .
These were followed by lunch.
Next after lunch we have Details of Heart Chan practice ( Sat. ) and Success Story – Zen in the work place.(Sun.)
This turned into one of the more popular topics and ended up carrying over into more time. After a short tea break we were treated to a play. Showing the origins of Shaolin Chan via Ta Mo ( Bodidharma) ( Sat.)
which was funny & very entertaining
and watched later A DVD of one of the Shifu’s lectures.
After our next break and chat time, we had question and answer time. We were fortunate to have a senior brother who had been with the Shifu for some 15 – 18 yr. I think it was, visiting and helping with the seminars operation. Along with several other seniors we had a treasure chest of first hand information available.
The different and sometimes amusing part of being part of this event is the lectures all have to be translated, Chinese to English or English to Chinese. Sometimes things were skipped or change, which got a laugh form those of us who could tell. We also had singing, & individuals experience sharing. Our sessions covered a large spectrum.
My only real disappointment was not learning more Motion Zen drills. However, that is just my thing, as my ministry as it would be called in Christian circles, of Ch’an ( Zen ) is through the Motion Zen. I did pickup two new drills.
One of which maybe be a great help to my shoulders for Tai Chi and Kyudo the other I know from Tai Chi practice, it was very familiar.
After dinner & a break, there were other discussions before our evening meditation at 8:30 and closing @ 9:00.
The nice thing for us about being in Monterey is our friends the Tokyo Deligation lives there. So on Friday and Sat after the session we went to visit them. Also met another intercultural couple who are friends of theirs. These may also become Zen students as an interest was expressed from them.
Sunday morning followed the same pattern for the most part as Friday and Sat. The morning lecture was a lecture and practice on Deep Reflection Meditation. A step up on our basic daily Chakra meditation.
The lessens I received form this event were different in a way that I can not put into a wordy story. I am pleased to have attended and grateful to my spiritual “brother & sister “ who made possible for my wife and I to attend without hardship.
I am delighted my wife was able to attended this year and even more so since she had her own breakthrough with her meditation and understanding of Chan. I am also grateful that my cousin and wife were able to spent some connecting before her relocation. They are more than just marriage relations, they are friends. Also that we got to share this together.
I was able to find some of the papers translated from Chinese to English on some of the Shifu’s lectures. I will be posting some from time to time, maybe. One of the things spoke on during the event was how Zen practice is beyond religion. One can be any religion as I stated before and still practice “Zen” It was also stated that Zen/Chan is also more than and beyond just a “life style” as it had become in the West and less formal in our lay practice than the rigors of Japanese styles. Our lay practice with the focus on connecting to the Chi of the Universe, for health, wisdom, cleansing, and enlightenment is the base of life. One does not have to give up, convert, or join anything in mind or heart to follow the path of Shaolin ( Heart) Chan or add it to their own spritural practice.
Some parts of last year’s retreat I did find more enjoyable, but it did not hinder me from enjoying were I was or being grateful for this year’s event. In many ways it was more enjoyable.
I will be reflecting and recalling lessons, feelings, sensations for several days. Sometimes the subconscious brings out wordless stored messages, lessons after the fact, after storing the substance first. Bring them up again like when I am writing this post. Sort of like a cow chewing it’s cud.
I did realize clearly how much of a natural course this Heart Chan is for me. I have studied Chi, for healing – Chi Gong, Protection – Kung Fu, for health – Tai Chi, for balance in one’s environment via Feng Shui
This covers the body and mind, so connecting to it’s use for enlightenment, spiritual development, mental and spiritual health is a natural progression.