Samish Orientation

Guiding Teacher

Welcome, deep welcome. This has become such an important gathering for many of us. We've been doing this for many years and also every year is completely new and different. Let's practice our gratitude and also our beginner's mind. And if you're new to Samish or to sesshin a great practice is trust.

Who the leaders are: everyone needs to be clear on who the Retreat Manager, Ino, Registrar, Jisha and Work Leader are. Messages on the message boards to these 5 people if you need anything. Also introduce teachers offering practice discussion.

Silence - Trust the sesshin, yourself, and the community – release yourself fully from the need to interact and talk. Take a deep break in the dharma, everything is arranged and even if there are rough edges to the arrangements so it goes. Just let us know about challenges you personally are facing that affect your following the schedule.

Also easy for organizers to feel they need to talk to each other. Think twice, give it some time to work itself out, make a note to yourself to bring it to the meeting. If it does seem urgent and more than can be handled in a note and can’t wait for the meeting tap the person on the shoulder and find somewhere private. Take the time to respect the sesshin and not whisper in public. A whispered conversation can have surprising ripples throughout the community and make it harder for all of us to settle into the silence. 

Special ceremonies:  list any special ceremonies - On Thursday we'll have a spirit settling ceremony for the spirits of those who first lived in this place, on Wednesday we'll have a health & well being ceremony, and on Friday we'll have a memorial service. If you would like a name included in the Health & Well Being or Memorial services there are sign up sheets in the zendo. 

And please be quiet in the sewing room. Let that be a beautiful quiet practice, getting brief help only when needed. And let our sewing practice not be about efficient production and getting stuff done. Let it be quiet and patient in the mind as well as the lips. An offering.

Retreat Manager

Practice Jobs

  • Jobs are posted in the dining hall, zendo, and both washroom buildings
  • Coordinators are responsible to training new people coming onto the crew, and letting the retreat manager know if their crew is short any members.
  • All dishwashers for all meals and the dining hall crew will meet immediately after dinner, at 6:15 for training
  • Training at 7pm
    • Tenken Timekeeper, Doan Bellringer, and Kokyo Chantleader by the Doan-ryo Trainer in the zendo
    • Doshis and Jikos by the Doshi Trainer in the zendo
    • Sound Engineer by the Sound Engineer Trainer in the zendo
    • Tea Servers meet in the nurse cabin for training
    • Chidens find the Chiden Trainer
  • Food prep training happens during work period tomorrow


  • thank you for those who could go higher on the sliding scale, rest went to scholarships and ongoing for the sangha. We were able to award ___ scholarships this year. Donations to Norman and also to the other teachers are made additionally as dana.
  • You should all have checked in with the registrar


  • If communication is called for please use the notes stations (dining room & zendo) if you have to ask a question or get info to someone. Let our practice with this go deep, don't talk, don't make eye contact, minimal talk during work period when necessary about what is in front of you, minimize non-verbal interactions around the coffee/tea area, organizers be mindful. Organizers use the "Ino's office" where the washing machines are for conversations.
  • Suggestions for improving the arrangements are invited at the end or after you get home. Better not to give us  your ideas during sesshin as it triggers you into "fixing mode" and triggers us into all kinds of modes.
  • Note that the sesshin leaders will have a short organizers meeting before Work Meeting to handle any communication about the retreat. (Retreat Manager, Ino, Jisha, Registrar, Work Leader). 
  • reading- don't read beyond checking the schedule or notes to you on the message board
  • writing- don't write, if you feel like journal writing is a part of your practice get permission from Norman or Tim first
  • passing on the paths- stop and bow (demonstrate) - but not inside 
  • explain han signaling & being in zendo before end of 2nd round (then wait by doors until after 3 small bells). 
  • work period- mindful, silent work is part of the Zen tradition. You may need to ask a question - speak only about what is in front of you with an economy of words. People on the dish crews, tenkens and chidens may take a break during the work period, but they do come to the work meeting as it is also a community meeting with announcements. A han as usual starts 10 minutes before work meeting starts, and signals 5 minutes before work period ends. Meet in front of the dining hall to meet and bow in for work. Start cleaning up when you hear the bell to end work. Bow out with you work group after you finish cleaning up.
  • work meeting announcements– send a message board message to the work leader if you need a question asked or an announcement made. Announcements are made by the Work Leader, Jisha, Ino, Retreat Manager, or Registrar only.  Invite Work Leader to say more about work period.


  • We move from the zendo to the dining hall as a goup, chanting "Ho"
  • There are washrooms in the zendo, along the route, and in the dining hall. It is acceptable and appropriate to slip off at some point to wash your hands, to protect both yourself and others. If you are tempted to slip away for any other reason, please consider if it would be okay if you didn't but instead stayed with the group.
  • There is also hand sanitizer at the beginning of each food line. Either wash or sanitize.
  • allergies- any we don't know about?
  • Food will be served in 3 lines. Special dietary needs served in left entry line. Others can go there too.
  • meals- we will eat together in silence. The form is to focus on eating & we are usually done pretty quickly. If you would like to have seconds or prefer to eat slowly, take a small amount and eat with us. Then remain behind after the formal meal ends and eat during the beginning of the break. Please move through the meal line quickly, there are a lot of us. Please move through the meal line quickly, there are a lot of us. 
  • We are relieved of the burden of having to decide where to sit. Take the next available seat.
  • People with a strong caffine drive will get up early to make and intake it early in the morning before the first sitting period. During meals, please do not get hot beverages until dismissed for seconds.


Attire - subdued clothes, dark colors, avoid lettering, no scents or jewelry in the zendo (including mala beads)

The schedule - follow it completely– note to the Ino or if there is a problem or need to deviate and please be specific (not just "may have to miss some periods" good to make a decision), 

Dokusan & Practice Discussion - important part of sesshin, bring up whatever you want.  (Jisha can say a few words if present.) For  practice discussion there are sign up sheets in the zendo including one for seeing any teacher without preference, they will come get you in the zendo. Note that Norman asks that we go to practice discussion only once with one teacher. He is encouraging quiet and trust in the dharma. Things have a way of working themselves out in sesshin.

Dana- as you know, your registration just covers the costs of the sesshin with any extra supporting our equipment, scholarships, and future retreats fund. There will be an opportunity to practice dana and give money to support Norman and his family at the end of the retreat. An opportunity to give dana to other teachers may be offered at times as a way to show your appreciation but please focus your dollars on Norman as this is his livelihood.

  • Difficulties- if you have trouble following the schedule, please work with your difficulty and contact the Ino, go to Practice Discussion (will get in very soon usually) or see Norman in dokusan (may be a wait a day or two for that) if you need to request to modify the schedule for your practice.
  • Zendo etiquette–  Ino says something about how we practice in this zendo. (Ino should highlight things unique to this zendo or differences between BZPG and MRZC practices, not try to explain zazen or all zendo forms). If participants have questions about zazen, or specific zendo forms they should talk with the Ino before silence starts or sign up for practice discussion.  Not sure what these are.

Zazen- we are assuming you all have experience with zazen, practice discussion is a good way to get more information on zazen posture and approach. Is there anyone new to zazen or sesshin? We can offer a zazen class tomorrow morning if so?  Don't we ask that everyone who comes has had at least a one-day sitting? Do we want to offer a class?   Delete?

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