May Sesshin Transmitting the Light: An Online Meditation Retreat Celebrating the Teachings of Our Ancestors


Please note: this is an approximation; sesshin schedules vary with leader and season.

First evening
5:00 p.m. Registration begins
6:00 p.m. Dinner (informal) and sesshin orientation
9:00 p.m. Zazen and formal opening of sesshin
10:00 p.m. Monastery doors locked

All full days
4:20 a.m. Wake up bell
5:00 a.m. Zazen
6:50 a.m. Service
7:20 a.m. Breakfast (oriyoki) in dining hall
8:30 a.m. Work period begins
9:50 a.m. Warning bell to clean up
10:00 a.m. End of work period
10:30 a.m. Zazen
12:20 p.m. Service
12:30 p.m. Lunch (oriyoki) in dining hall
3:00 p.m. Zazen
5:20 p.m. Service
5:30 p.m. Dinner (oriyoki) in dining hall
7:00 p.m. Zazen
9:20 p.m. Formal Tea/Zazen
10:00 p.m. Monastery doors locked

Last Sunday
4:50 a.m. Wake-up bell
5:30 a.m. Zazen
6:30 a.m. Breakfast
8:00 a.m. Closing Circle
10:00 a.m. Sunday Program (service, zazen)
11:20 a.m. Dharma talk and formal end of sesshin
12:00 p.m. Lunch (informal)

About This Event

Zen is a direct Mind to Mind transmission--a transmission of light. We study with teachers who help us recognize and embody our awakened wisdom and compassion. During this sesshin Chozen and Hogen Roshi will share personally from their own experience working with their teachers Maezumi Roshi and Philip Kapleau Roshi. We will also weave in the teachings of the First Free Women, the Buddha's first female disciples - as we open to the Path of practice as it has been embodied and practiced for millenia. Real people, walking the path of their lives and opening the Dharma truths - just as we aspire to do. Join us for this intimate week of practice.

It is our intention to offer the supportive structure to allow you to do a week long meditation retreat at home. You can participate to whatever degree your life allows. Consider the possibility to design your own retreat. Do a work/family sesshin. Take one day this week to join us for a day of retreat.

At Great Vow we will follow our usual sesshin rhythm. Doing zazen by yourself may be difficult. We are doing our best to develop a supportive, realistic and meaningful set of options to support you.  Please help us help you! We welcome any advice.

Why sesshin?  Sesshin is a time of concentrated investigation into the Nature of Mind - of Reality.  Sesshin has many aspects: the zazen stabilizes and helps calm the discursive mind; a calm mind allows the heart to open; a calm mind allows clear observation of life; a clear mind makes better choices; a clear mind is the foundation for becoming one with our deepest nature.  Sesshin is disciplined so that our ordinary habits do not take over.  It is rhythmic so that the work can continue to be refined day after day.

1. Make a ritual space, a sacred space for your zazen, chanting etc. (The elements of an altar traditionally represent the kind gifts of a bodhisattva : Light, good smells, nourishment, water, life {flowers etc.}

2. Decide to hold silence for specific portions of the day.  Be sure to tell your housemates/family what you are doing.

3. Reduce media use. Cell phones, news, social chat are all easy distractions.  We recommend turning them off.

4. Our daily sesshin schedule can be found below.

5. Decide baseline hours of zazen.  We recommend at least 4 hours per day.

6. If you cannot follow our schedule, then make your own and send a copy to Kisei (contact info blocked).  We will post so people here will know you are with them.

7. Keep a log of zazen hours.  Simply mark them on a calendar so you have visual positive feedback of your participation.

8. There will be both a streaming and a Zoom version of the zendo activity.

9. As a registered participant you will receive an email with a unique Zoom invite and password.  The Zoom meeting will be opened mornings and you may enter or leave at your discretion.

10. As a registered participant, use the link to join the Zoom meeting.  Your image and the images of other registrants will be projected on the zendo wall during zazen periods.

11. All talks and zendo comments will be broadcast through Zoom.  The live stream will basically be silent, only broadcasting morning service.

12. Teisho, Dharma Talks, will be by multiple teachers. A schedule of who is speaking will be sent later.

13. As a registered participant, you will receive an email with invitation to an opening of sesshin meeting. This will take place at 6PM on Monday, the official opening of sesshin in the zendo will occur at 8PM. We encourage you to come to the opening meeting. We will go over the logistics of doing sesshin on-line and at home.

14. As a registered participant, each day there will be a group or individual check in with one of the teachers.

15. We encourage you to chant with us during meals and in the zendo.  There are two formal meals, three services and a closing chant.

16. Our chant book is available online.  The page numbers announced in the zendo will correspond to it.

17. Lastly, we recommend you plan some regular work during this week.  Simple work like deep cleaning your home or gardening are ideas.

Workshop cost is Sliding Scale. Please donate what you can and know that your offering helps keep the Zen Community of Oregon afloat during this time of closure. Your contribution directly supports the teachers, monastics and the care for our places of practice.

Sliding Scale : $50 - $250


4:50 Wake- up bell

5:30 Zazen

7:20 Service

8:00 Breakfast

9:30 work practice

11:00 End Work

11:30 Zazen

12:50 Service

1:00 Lunch

3:30 Zazen and Teisho

5:20 Service

6:00 Dinner

7:30 Zazen

9:20 Formal Tea

10:00 Closing Rounds


Venue Highlights

The monastery includes a spacious meditation hall, guest and resident dormitories, dining hall, and a large organic vegetable garden.

Within the forest is Great Vow's famous Jizo Garden, a memorial garden for people who have died, and the newly dedicated Shrine of Vows, a place where people leave tokens of their deep aspirations.


Overnight guests stay in the guest hall (semi-private dormitory), follow the daily monastery schedule, and share meals with the community. A donation is suggested.

Private retreat accommodations are sometimes available for those with significant prior meditation or contemplative experience. Private retreatants can follow their own schedule in solitude.


  • Free Wifi
  • Free Parking
  • Coffee/Tea

Menu Types

  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
  • Gluten Free
  • Dairy Free
  • Nut Free


Meals are simple. Breakfast is usually hot grain cereal, nuts or nut butter, dairy and non-dairy milk, fruit, yogurt, and tea. Lunch is the most substantial with a main entree, salad, vegetable side, and condiments. Dinner is soup and bread. Many retreats are served as buffet. Zen-style retreats feature meals that are oriyoki, a Zen form of mindful eating in monasteries that goes back 1,000 years. Imagine Zen tea ceremony, but eating. Newcomers are guided on how to do it and people get the hang of it after a couple days. Meals are vegetarian with vegan options. Gluten-free alternatives can be accommodated. Coffee, caffeinated, and herbal tea are provided.


Ride sharing can be arranged from the airport with some advanced notice with our registrar. The monastery is located 80 miles northwest of Portland, Oregon on twenty forested acres overlooking the Columbia River flood plain. The drive takes 80-90 minutes.

Directions from the airport:
1. Take I-205 North to I-5 North. I-5 North to exit 36 Longview (south of Seattle, north of Portland).
2. At the exit travel west on to 432 towards Longview City Center.
3. At the sign to “Highway 30 to Oregon”, turn left (south) onto “Oregon Way” .
4. Cross the Lewis and Clark Bridge into Oregon.
5. Turn right (west) onto Highway 30 towards Astoria. Clatskanie is 12 miles from this point.
6. In Clatskanie turn right at the stoplight onto Nehalem Street
7. Go straight to the end, and then follow the road left onto 5th street.
8. Stay on this road (do NOT take the first left fork to the Poplar Farm).
9. You will reach a fork after 2.9 miles; stay left, on Quincy-Mayger Road. Following the street signs saying “Zen Monastery”.
10. The Monastery is 1.8 miles past the fork, at 79640 Quincy-Mayger Road on the right.

Reviews     To review this event, visit the page for the venue or retreat leaders (above).

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