IJI | Inner Justice Intensive is a 7 day residential intensive offered in the Summer season that is modeled after the traditional Zen ‘sesshin.’ The rigorous IJI schedule (5am-10pm) is an amalgam of all of our core practices integrated with transformative practice, periods of study, work practice, and daily newDharma talks given by guiding Teacher, rev. angel Kyodo williams.
At IJI, we separate ourselves from our daily affairs and sink deeply into the question, “What is my essential nature?” In these special training circumstances we are free to devote ourselves entirely to the practice of Presence, being in relationship to one’s life, moment-to-moment, as it unfolds.
At IJI, we are free to be true to our hearts. We are free to transcend the background chatter of our busy, superficial minds, and to see into our own nature. After we have made this realization, IJI offers us the chance to make great progress in growing up so that we may offer up our gifts in service towards a more just, sustainable, and equitable world, on behalf of all Beings.
The forms and procedures which follow are designed to establish an optimum setting for deep practice for everyone attending the IJI, a structure which supports each of us in giving full attention to the matter at hand. At the same time, internalizing the guidelines, and practicing them mindfully, creates an environment for the entire group which fosters and expresses our deepest aspirations.
There is a lot to remember. It is all right to make mistakes. You will find that you will pick it up as the IJI continues. Just practice with sincerity. If you have heard all this before, please listen carefully again with beginner’s mind.
The three essentials of social silence observed during IJI:
l. Don’t talk or whisper.
2. Don’t look around.
3. Don’t greet people or make gestures.
These guidelines are designed to free you of everyday concerns and make it easier to keep your practice-attention and awareness in everything that you do.
GENERAL ATTITUDE AND PROTOCOL
Please bring your whole self and only that to the retreat. Refrain from bringing things to read, journals to write in, music or anything else that could be a distraction, including watches or alarm clocks.
Unless you have a job which requires wearing a watch (leaders and cooks) don’t wear one. Sesshin gives you a rare chance to forget time.
For this silent practice and form, it is the schedule that is crucial. You are asked to sit the entire schedule, regardless of what your personality is suggesting you do or how your body feels. If you are ill, then you may lie down in the rear of the practice hall. You are invited to sit in a chair as needed. But you must show up. This surrender to the schedule is so very important.
Interview with the teacher and your wholehearted commitment to awakening will help you sustain and deepen your practice. It is customary to make an offering of generosity—dana—to the Teacher.
There is no minimum or maximum amount and envelopes will be available. The support of being in community is especially powerful.
This practice is like a diamond that shines through all obstacles.
It also asks everything of us.
If you commit yourself, this is a powerful and strong way to truly touch (and change) your mind and open your heart.
Do not address Kyodoshi directly.
If a practice-related problem arises and it is necessary to speak to someone about it, speak only to the Practice Leader or to the Teacher in interview. If a work-related problem arises, speak only to your work leader or to the Jisha (attendant). If you have any other problems, such as illness, an emergency or a personal problem, please refer to the Practice Leader.
Unless there is an urgent emergency, wait until the break period before approaching the leader. Don’t speak or write notes to the cooks or to anyone else. Don’t give advice or seek help from your fellow students.
Let the IJI leaders and the Teacher handle any difficulties.
Your eyes should be kept lowered. Eye contact is distracting during IJI. Don’t signal others with gestures. Don’t greet or acknowledge your dharma brothers and sisters as you come and go in sesshin. Don’t bother to gassho (place palms together) to each other, and don’t bother with the normal courtesies such as waiting at doorways. The first to the doorway should simply go straight through. Continue your practice at all times.
Keeping your hands in resting position whenever possible will help to bring you back to your practice. During work periods, bring all your attention to the task at hand.
SCHEDULE AND SEATING ARRANGEMENTS
The schedule and any special seating plan for the zendo will both be posted outside the door. Please keep strictly to your place and don’t interfere with anyone else’s mats or cushions.
Clothing should be plain and dark colored, preferably black. It should be loose-fitting. Don’t wear shorts. Don’t wear clothes with holes in them. You may keep a hoodie folded at your place in case of cold weather.
PROMPTNESS AND ATTENDANCE
Attend every group function. Always be at your place early, 5 minutes before the sitting period begins. Be seated in the zendo by the end of the second round of the moktak.
If you are not at your place, someone will have to go looking for you. Don’t come in after the bells have rung. Don’t go too far away at the breaks or fall asleep far away, you won’t be able to hear the moktak announcing the next period. Always stay within earshot. Don’t leave the zendo until you have the signal to do so.
If some emergency arises, speak only to one of the leaders about it. Do not leave a note. Do not ask to leave IJI just because you are feeling upset. Such times can be important for your sitting meditation. Your absence would inevitably disturb the group spirit. Never leave IJI without first speaking to one of the leaders and to the Teacher.
Be At and On Time For All Activities
Be careful when opening and closing doors to cause the least possible noise. Doors to be left open should be hooked into position. Don’t stand in doorways. Don’t touch any windows in the zendo. The guardian will attend to them.
If there are smokers here, please only smoke during breaks and go away from areas in which the smoke will affect others, taking care when lighting matches or stubbing out butts. Wash your hands afterwards and don’t smoke in your sitting clothes. Better still, don’t smoke here at all.
It is important to prevent colds and other illnesses going round the group. Please wash your hands carefully before handling any food, and after work periods. Water is a precious resource. Don’t wash hands, clothes or utensils under running water. Put the plug in the basin.
Remember to drink plenty of water in general and more if the weather is warm. Don’t tuck mugs away in your rooms or there won’t be enough to go round at morning and afternoon tea time.
We observe the basic IJI protocol of social silence and inward focus. No social courtesies.
No unnecessary looking around (keep eyes at a 45° angle). Walk mindfully with hands in shashu (hand in a fist at your navel, covered by other hand).
Maintain personal hygiene. Wash hands before handling foods and after work periods. Do not wear perfumes or strong scents. Smoke only outdoors, beyond the gate, and away from other practitioners.
Join the group. Do everything our way and forget for the time being any other practice. Spend your free time resting, washing or doing zazen or walking meditation. Enjoy your the strong practice container of the IJI. Guard every moment as if it were a precious jewel.