(The wonderful studio at Tigh Roy's that became our zendo for the retreat)
The sesshin in Tigh Roy's, Co Tipperary, concluded yesterday.
10 participants from various groups (and no groups) came together to enjoy a weekend of practice and discussions. The centre proved very comfortable and the food and hospitality was excellent, so many thanks to Deirdre and Roy of Tigh Roy's.
As there was no teacher attending we had facilitated group discussions in place of dharma talks. The first of these, on Saturday, was about our various 'approcahes to Zen'. People spoke of their experiences coming from various backgrounds: From the Nishijima/ Dogen sangha side of things, from the Deshimaru approach, from the BMZC/Paul Haller Roshi approach, from the Hogen Yamahata/ Open Way Zen approach. We had a practitioner of Gestalt therapy and an Aikido Shihan present, so we were able to touch on the relevance of zen practice in those areas also.
Eilís read some insightful passages from her current favourite book yesterday which led to an interesting discussion on aspects of practice.
Although the retreat was put together provisionally to be a loose 'chanting/ ceremony free' affair (so as to be as inclusive as possible to those from other traditions, or from no traditions) it was decided to perform prostrations and chant the Heart Sutra after the last session of zazen yesterday.
All in all it was an interesting and enjoyable experiment and I hope that it contributes to the establishment of a non-sectarian, non-hierarchical forum for sincere and inclusive discussion and practice in Ireland. The beauty of the 'stripped down' model is that such events are quite easy to organise, so similar events can run again if there is sufficient interest.
Many thanks and bows to our hosts and to all who attended.