Rohatsu/Belonging to Earth Zazenkai

12/3/2020, 7:00pm - 12/5/2020, 8:00am at Online

Rohatsu/Belonging to Earth Zazenkai will be held online Thursday, December 3 through Sunday, December 6 2020. This unique zazenkai will have two parts. You may attend either one or both parts. The first part of the zazenkai begins Thursday evening, December 3 at 7PM. This part of the zazenkai will consist of online sitting and services with meals, self care and samu (work period) on your own and will conclude early Saturday morning, December 5. Register for this part of the zazenkai here on the Great Plains Zen Center website.

The second part of the zazenkai is an invitation to join other sangha members in participating in the One World in Dialogue BELONGING TO EARTH VIGIL taking place Dec 5-6. This is a 24-hour vigil that consists of talks by indigenous elders and spiritual leaders in different traditions about our relationship with the earth of which we are a part and interspersed with periods of meditation. This second part of the Zazenkai, the Belonging to Earth Vigil has a separate registration through One World Bearing Witness that can be accessed here.

Rohatsu commemorates the enlightenment of our original teacher Shakyamuni Buddha (December 8) and is our most important retreat of the year. It is a time to deeply investigate the grave matter – the question “who am I ?” Upon his enlightenment, Shakyamuni Buddha was challenged by the delusive voice of Mara, demanding proof of the authenticity of his experience. In response, he touched the earth with his right hand, asking her to bear witness to the truth he had realized, the fundamental non-separateness (selflessness) of all things.

Indeed, the BELONGING TO EARTH vigil on Saturday through Sunday morning invites us, through bearing witness and continued meditation to experience this non-separation or belonging to earth for ourselves. This is an opportunity to bear witness to Mother Earth and our relationship to her in this time of climate crisis and threat of extinction for many species, including our own.  Through guidance from spiritual/environmental leaders from various traditions and the silence of many hours of meditation, what actions will arise in our lives going forward to serve the wholeness of our being and all beings of the great earth?

More information will be shared about the vigil as it becomes available. The first part of the zazenkai will have a schedule similar to many of our previous online zazenkai, except that we will start on Thursday night. Thursday evening, there are three periods of sitting, which will include some brief precautions and instructions on getting the most out of the online zazenkai. On Friday morning, we begin at 6 AM with the chanting of the Verse of Atonement and Three Refuges and two sitting periods. Morning service (as well as noon and evening services) will consist of a group reading, followed by a meal break.  There are two late morning sitting periods starting at 9:30 AM, followed by a talk at 10:50 and lunch service (online) and lunch on your own. There is a self care period at 2 PM during which you can do a body work practice (such as yoga, tai chi or qi gong), take a walk, attend to family needs or another activity. This will be followed by a work period, during which you can do a work task of your choice at home, followed by a period of zazen and then evening service.  After dinner break will be three more periods of sitting (online) beginning at 7:00 and ending with the Four Bodhisattva Vows. On Saturday morning, we will have one period of zazen with a simple closing, to allow transition time for those continuing on with the BELONGING TO EARTH VIGIL that begins Saturday morning.

This schedule is only a framework. Some may wish to do more sitting, some may wish to substitute walking or a bodywork practice for some of the sitting. You may find that you need more time for household chores and cannot participate in all of the activities. Even if you are only able to attend a little of the schedule, you are still welcome to be a part of the zazenkai. Please remember to turn off video and audio during zazen.

There will not be a formal charge for the Rohatsu/Belonging to Earth Zazenkai part I (December 3-6). Instead, we invite you to make a free will donation of any amount you would like on our Dana webpage here. Please indicate in the comments that your donation is for the Rohatsu/Belonging to Earth Zazenkai and register by Monday, November 30. There is a separate registration for the vigil (December 5-7) on the One World Bearing Witness home page with a separate place for a donation (to One World in Dialogue who sponsors this vigil). For more information or questions about the zazenkai, email Roshi at