In the Japanese Zen tradition, Rohatsu is the day celebrated in recognition of the Buddha’s enlightenment. The word Rohatsu means the eighth day of the twelfth month and was originally tied to the Chinese lunar calendar. Due to the misalignment of lunar months with the solar year, this typically places Rohatsu in early to mid January. However, due to the adoption of the western calendar by the Japanese, the day of Rohatsu is most typically celebrated on December 8th as the eighth day of the twelfth solar month.
Nevertheless, many traditional temples, monasteries and modern Zen Centers still observe (or have returned to observing) Rohatsu in January, according to the original lunar tradition. Sometimes this is done because of tradition, while at other times it is a return to the original time frame based more on modern calendar conflicts. For those of us living in the West (or heavily influenced by the Western culture), December is a very busy month with the eighth day of the twelfth month landing smack in the middle of the Holiday Season.
For the last few years, this clashing of cultural traditions has led to the reconfiguration of Rohatsu recognition at Open Gate Zendo. In order to allow those of us who have friends and family who are fundamentally “not Buddhists” to participate fully in the Holiday Season, we have moved our Rohatsu Sesshin to mid January. Typically, this Winter Sesshin coincides with the Martin Luther King three day weekend and the Sunday afternoon silent peace walk around Olympia’s Capitol Lake (as it will again this year).
However, in observance of the December tradition, we continue to recognize “the eighth day of the twelfth month” with a full day practice session (Zazenkai) on Saturday December eighth. Those wishing to come Friday evening are welcome to stay overnight in the Zendo, as well as, Saturday night if needed. There will be no scheduled practice on Sunday.
If you plan to attend, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Below is the practice schedule for this year’s Rohatsu Zazenkai:
Saturday December 8th
7:00-7:15 Arrive for Zazenkai
7:15-Call to Zazen (Plank drum (Han) roll)
7:30-8:00 One period of Zazen
8:00-8:05 Incense Ceremony
8:05-9:00 Informal Breakfast in Hojo
9:00-9:30 Break and kitchen cleanup
9:15- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
9:30-10:45 Two periods of Zazen alternated with Kinhin
9:30-10:45 Dokusan (one on one meeting with the teacher) by rotation.
10:45-12:30 Samu (work period- clean up, yard work, meal preparation)
12:30- Call to Lunch (Han roll)
12:45-1:45 Lunch ceremony (Oryoki)
1:45-2:15 Break and kitchen cleanup
2:00- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
2:15-3:30 Two periods of Zazen alternated with Kinhin
3:30-4:30 Angya practice. (monk procession walk)
4:30- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
4:45-5:15 One period Zazen
5:15-6:15 Dinner ceremony (Oryoki)
6:15-6:45 Break and kitchen cleanup
6:30- Call to Zazen (Han roll)
6:45-8:00 Two periods of Zazen alternated with Kinhin
8:00 -8:50 Tea ceremony & Teisho (teaching)
8:50- Closing ceremony
9:00- Prepare for bed or leave for the night.
9:00 Konsho (striking the evening bell)
The Open Gate Rohatsu/Winter Sesshin will be held on the Martin Luther King Weekend, January 19th – 21st 2013.