Ground Rules to be observed for the success of the Sesshins

  • Please observe the times given in the schedule;
  • For the sake of mutual respect observe punctuality;
  • Take your place in the exercise room a few minutes before the starting-time;
  • Immerse yourself in the exercises with an attitude of trust towards the path;
  • It is mandatory that you take part in all the exercise Sesshins.

The Exercise Room
  • Essential personal belongings only are brought to the Exercise-Room. Superfluous objects are a source of distraction.
  • Shoes are to remain at the entrance of the Exercise-Room, arranged in an ordered way.
  • Upon entering and leaving the room we bow towards the icon and we go to our places with a downward gaze. This assists your inner preparation for the next exercise.
  • The seating arrangement in the Room remains unchanged throughout the course of the week.
  • Once the gong signalling the beginning of the Exercises sounds, no one may enter the Exercise-Room.
  • Should difficulties arise, a participant speaks to the leader of the course.

The Exercises
  • Communication during the Exercises takes place by means of signs;
  • Posture will be corrected as required; it is decisive that participants discover by walking how to breathe and the importance of breathing;
  • All maintain the seated posture without movement, throughout the prescribed time;
  • Acceptance of the programme and a decision to participate in the exercises wholeheartedly are essential attitudes required to make progress on this Way;
  • Within the context of a day each exercise has a particular place or value, it is necessary therefore, to approach each element of the day (sitting, walking, eating, sleeping) with interior alertness and vigilance;
  • Cast your eyes down to a 45 degree angle towards the ground. This minimises distractions:
  • The others support you in your endeavours. It is only right that you support them.

Time between the Exercises
  • We remain recollected in times between the Exercises – We avoid every form of distraction during meal-times, free-time, time for sleeping;
  • While maintaining external silence we endeavour to maintain within ourselves a decisive inner silence.

’Teishou’- Explanation of the Way
  • At the beginning of the ‘Teishou’ the teacher and participants bow to one another in mutual respect; when seated they maintain a short pause;
  • Throughout the presentation we seek to listen with our entire selves and not merely with the intellect. In order to listen with our entire being an upright seated posture is maintained.

’Dokusan’- Personal Interview
  • For the ‘Dokusan’ a respectable attitude is required;
  • On entering and leaving the room, one bows;
  • The short interview-time gives the individual opportunity to speak with the teacher about difficulties and achievements; this is designed for the participant to make greater progress during in the exercises;
  • This invitation to the interview is not intended for discussion with or the confirmation of the practitioner’s opinions;
  • For treatment of other particular concerns an appointment is to be arranged with the Course-leader;

  • Books that are related to this Way of the Exercises are displayed in different places. You are advised to exercise great restraint in reading, so that the interior process set in motion by the Exercises and Renunciation is not inhibited.

  • All meals begin with prayer led by the director, at the end of which we maintain a short thankful pause. Breakfast is the exception to this practice, with the concluding prayer said in private;
  • Participants serve themselves at meals, a practice that does not dispense them from attentiveness to the needs of others;
  • During these days of the Exercises it is recommended that participants eat approximately two-thirds of their usual portion of food. Tea is provided at breakfast on an additional table – different arrangements pertain according to the meeting-place. A decision made by a participant for either tea or coffee is maintained throughout the Sesshins.

  • The Eucharist is celebrated daily; here we are invited to offer to the Lord those problems that we cannot readily resolve;
  • Those who choose not to participate in the Eucharistic Celebration are required to spend this time engaging in the Exercises in their rooms.

Additional Points
  • In the Exercise-Room no form of gymnastics may be practised;
  • Apart from time devoted to the Exercises, as far as possible the hands are kept closed and the eyes cast downwards;
  • Failure to observe the foregoing directives will lead other participants astray and derail the correct process of the Exercises;
  • All forms of discussion are strictly forbidden during the Days of the Exercises;
  • To be fully present to every dimension, a commitment is required throughout the entire Sesshin.

Directives of the Zen-Jou Community – return to the source of life (ZJC-rsl)

Because the precious gift of life is not intended to be squandered, but each is to become aware by discovering his/her responsibility for Life: the Exercises and Renunciation are the Way in which this essential attitude can mature, so that with the whole of our being we communicate with all Being, which we then affirm rather then deny.

Fr. Gebhard Kohler 2010