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Samish Orientation Notes & Admonitions


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 & Schedule - 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 be mindful of silence in the sewing room.

Also easy for organizers to feel they need to talk to each other. Think twice, use the notes system, go off somewhere private, or wait for the daily meeting. Take the time to respect the sesshin and not whisper in public. A whispered conversation can have surprising ripples throughout the community. 

Special ceremonies:  list any special ceremonies.

Introductions: invite each person to say their name, where they're from, perhaps to name the sangha they sit with if any.

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 7:00pm for training
  • Most others have training at 7:30pm
    • 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 (zendo only) 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 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.
  • 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 
  • 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 and a way for us to contribute to this place. Some people will be invited to take a break during the work period, but they do come to the work meeting as it is also a community meeting with announcements.
    Note: that we now invite dish crew members to join work period, you may take the zazen period after you do your dishes as a personal care break if needed.
  • Work period timing - A han 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 sesshin leaders only.

Food (buffet style in the dining hall)

  • 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 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.
  • 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, then remain behind after the formal meal ends.
  • 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.
  • Pass out the chant cards after the table group sits down together.
  • During meals, please do not get coffee or tea until dismissed for seconds.
  • People with a strong caffeine drive will get up early to make and intake it early in the morning before the first sitting period.


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 the other teachers may be offered at times as a way to show your appreciation. 
Any questions?

Ino (in Dining Hall orientation)

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), and if you can settle on a steady alternate schedule and commit to that that's good.

Dokusan to Discuss Your Practice - An important part of sesshin, bring up whatever you want. There are three ways dokusan happens. (1) With Norman - his Jisha will invite you. (2) With the Guiding Teachers of our Northwest Sanghas (Nomon Tim, Eko Jeff, Myoshin Kate, and Shinmon Michael) please sign up on the sheets in the zendo and their jisha will come get you. There is also a "No Preference" sign up if you'd just like to see someone soon. (3) We are blessed with the presence of other teachers here as well. If you have an ongoing relationship with another teacher please send him or her a note directly. And that teacher can sign up for a slot in Norman's dokusan room in the morning before his talk. 

Please see a maximum of Norman plus up to two other teachers. A follow up meeting is okay too. Members of the local sanghas are encouraged to see their regular teacher even if you see that teacher frequently as different conversations can happen during sesshin.

(Jisha for Norman and/or Jisha for the other Guiding Teachers can say a few words if present, partly just to reinforce that everyone knows who they are.)

Zazen- we are assuming you all have experience with zazen and we do not offer introductory instruction here. Dokusan is a good opportunity to get more information on zazen posture and approach. 

Difficulties - if you have trouble following the schedule, please work with your difficulty and contact the Ino, go to Dokusan (note the "no preference" sheet for the other teachers- that's the quickest) if you need to request to modify the schedule for your practice. Agreed upon modifications to the schedule: please sign yourself out using the sheet in the lobby.

Entering the Zendo - please enter in between the two partitions, don't go around the edges of the room. If you're late or returning from dokusan or at any other time and zazen is in progress please do not go into the sitting area. Sit on the chairs set up just outside the partitions in the lobby.

Kinhin - Kinhin, walking meditation, is an important part of our practice and that time can also be used for self-care as needed. If leaving the zendo for self-care leave immediately after the clackers.  If doing kinhin in the zendo turn and join the two large rectangles on either side. You may also leave the zendo and do kinhin in a circle on the patio in front. After done with self-care either walk in the lobby area of join the outside circle. The clackers signal the end of kinhin.

Stretching and Yoga - the best time is during breaks. It's fine to do stretching and yoga as self-care during kinhin. The balcony in the zendo may be used. Please do not do stretching or yoga or sitting in the balcony during zazen times as it disturbs the zendo even if you're trying to be quiet.

Any questions?


10 minutes into the opening period of zazen the Ino reads the Admonitions with a clear loud voice - just read them as is without adding further explanation. (If there are remaining questions people can send a note).


Be silent and still. Sesshin is a time to diligently care for and collect body and mind in one suchness. It is an opportunity to discover anew, clarify and actualize our ultimate concern. Please be sensitive to the fact that you and your Dharma friends are making an effort toward being upright and awake.

Follow the schedule completely. The full schedule, or if you have arranged an alternate schedule for sesshin, follow that completely. If you are unable to do so, let the Ino know with the absence sheet or a note. 

Communicate with the Ino or Practice Leader if you need to leave the retreat grounds, preferably in person.

Observe deep silence during Sesshin. Refrain from reading or writing or using technology.

Dress modestly and simply: wear dark subdued clothing that covers knees and shoulders in the zendo and take off jewelry and other adornments. 

As much as possible, walk and stand in formal meditation posture. Bow when meeting one another outside of buildings.

In the zendo be as quiet as possible. Walk quietly and carefully; muffle coughs and sneezes. 

Move steadily and quietly around the grounds. 

Be on time. Be settled in your seat before the second roll-down of the han.

When late, be late. Do not rush to the zendo. 

If late for zazen or returning from an interview, sit in the entrance area. Do not disturb zazen after it has started.

During service chant briskly and with energy, listening to those around you.

Sesshin includes pleasant and the unpleasant experiences. When difficulty arises please include it in your practice as fully as you can and remember that help is available from the Ino and the teachers. 

Be silent and still. Sesshin is a time to diligently care for and collect body and mind in one suchness. It is an opportunity to discover anew, clarify and actualize our ultimate concern. Please be sensitive to the fact that you and your Dharma friends are making an effort toward being upright and awake.

Sesshin has begun.

Red Cedar Zen Community

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