Next Now: Dec 01 - 04, 2022

Online Retreats

What is retreat anyway?

Retreat means just setting things aside for a short 3 days, following a simple schedule, entering silence, and developing a deeper intimacy with your True Self. We let go of social media activity, and other media intake such as books or the Internet. If possible, we maintain complete silence (except for the functional things needed for work). We follow a basic schedule of sitting and walking and clear Zen chanting. The basic language, when the few words are spoken, is clear and simple English. (In the future, there will be Korean-language retreats from time to time.)

So, why online retreats?

A multi-day retreat is an excellent way to develop a stable and grounded meditation practice in everyday life. Doing retreats together in groups is optimal, but there is limited room at the Zen Center, and we will still live under travel restrictions for some time going forward. So, this online course appears.


All times listed are CET (Berlin) time. Adjust to your locality. Find your time converter here. 

Entering the Temple Gate.

Logging on through Zoom link.
Testing system operations for this broadcast.
Begin Silence.

Phones and things off.
19:00 - 21:00
Start of Retreat.

The Evening Bell Chant.
Evening Chanting and short Sitting.
Opening words and guidance for the retreat.
Friday & Saturday
Wake up.
4 Great Vows, 108 Bows
05:30 - 07:00
Morning Chanting and Sitting
Silent Breakfast (self-organized / not streamed)
Work Period (self-organized / not streamed)
10:00 - 12:00
Sitting, Walking
Silent Lunch (“Maji”) (self-organized / not streamed)
14:30 - 16:00
Sitting, Walking
Break (self-organized / not streamed) It is recommended that you take a walk in nature or do some yoga, stretching or work-out.
19:00 - 20:40
Evening Chanting and Sitting
Wake up.
4 Great Vows, 108 Bows
05:30 - 07:00
Morning Chanting and Sitting
Silent Breakfast (self-organized / not streamed)
Work Period (self-organized / not streamed)
10:00 - 12:00
Sitting, Walking
Silent Lunch (“Maji”) (self-organized / not streamed)
Circle Talk to Close
Further Reflection w/ Sunim on the Retreat.
Leaving the Temple Gate.

End of Retreat


It is always challenging to build a practice at home. And that might be especially true for attempting to do an “online retreat” from your house, with its distractions and lack of helpful sangha concretely present. So we have come up with some helpful additions to address the matter of building a retreat experience at home: We can say that there are perhaps FOUR “areas” of the retreat experience that will need to be explained for doing this online retreat at home:

3 CHANTING is very helpful for clearing and harmonizing the mind. We chant at the beginning of Morning Practice and Evening Practice every day of the year. You will need to exercise judgement about your environment and what you will be able to do, if you have roommates or family members nearby. If it is not possible to chant out loud along with us, for some reasons of etiquette, you can still benefit from a humming-along – this will still have harmonizing benefits for your brain waves and senses. It is strongly recommended to find a way to chant along with the retreat, however way you might need to adjust.

SILENT MEAL: We eat in silence and we clean our dishes in silence. Each retreatant should find some way to enjoy a silent meal while engaged in this online retreat. Prepare something simple and healthy that can be heated up or arranged easily during our scheduled meal period. The food is eaten mindfully, without discoursing with others or engaged with a phone or distraction. We enjoy this food as nourishment for the work of waking up. Smell. Sound. Texture. Taste. Sound. Desire. Sound. Taste. Moment. The practice of the simple silent meal.

Find a few simple tasks in your household that need to be done. Cleaning the bathroom. Sweeping up the walkway and the front door outside. Retrimming a window, or arranging the boxes in the basement in better order. Cleaning up the working area in your homeoffice. The emphasis is not on some hard effort, but on moving with awareness of breath. There is no stress, it is not “work”. It is the movement of breath while activity manifests for a given task.

Walking Meditation

Walking meditation is taking our natural seated awareness into motion. Of course, there is a special challenge for attempting to carry out a walking-meditation practice in your house or apartment. Improvise with what you have – there is nothing else to say. If you have access to an outside patio, then do it there. But some basic attitudes for the practice: We walk not too fast, not too slow. Try to be able to do the walking meditation in a space that is not filled with distracting objects, photos, decorations, etc., wherever this is possible.

by Zen Master Seung Sahn (1927-2004)
1. On Keeping the Bodhi Mind
You must first make a firm decision to attain Enlightenment and help others. You already have the five or ten precepts. Know when to keep them and when to break them, when they are open and when they are closed. Let go of your small self and become your true self.
In original nature
There is no this and that.
The Great Round Mirror
Has no likes or dislikes.
2. On Mindfulness
Do not cling to your opinions. Do not discuss your private views with others. To cling to and defend your opinions is to destroy your practice. Put away all your opinions. This is true Buddhism.
Do not go where you have no business. Do not listen to talk which does not concern you.
Do not make the bad karma of desire, anger, or ignorance.
If in this lifetime
You do not open your mind,
You cannot digest
Even one drop of water.
3. On Conduct

Money and sex are like a spiteful snake. Put your concern with them far away.
In the Dharma Room always walk behind those seated in meditation.
At talks and ceremonies, keep the proper posture and dress.
Do not talk or laugh loudly in the Dharma Room.
If you have business outside the temple which causes you to miss ceremonies or meals, notify one of the temple officials before you leave.
Respect those older than you. Love those younger than you.
Keep your mind large and open.
If you meet sick people, love and help them. Be hospitable to guests. Make them welcome and attend to their needs.
When respected people visit the temple, bow to them and speak considerately to them.
Be courteous. Always let others go before you.
Help other people.
Do not play games with other people.
Do not gossip.
Do not use other people’s shoes and coats.
Do not cling to the scriptures.
Do not oversleep.
Do not be frivolous.
Let older and more respected people be seated before you.
Do not discuss petty temple matters with guests.
When visiting outside the temple, speak well of the temple to others.
Drinking to produce heedlessness, or acting out of lust will only make bad karma and destroy your practice.
You must be strong and think correctly. Then these desires cannot tempt you.
Do not delude yourself into thinking you are a great and free person. This is not true Buddhism.
Attend only to yourself. Do not judge the actions of others.
Do not make the bad karma of killing, stealing, or of lust.

Originally there is nothing.
But Buddha practiced unmoving under the Bodhi tree for six years.
And for nine years Bodhidharma sat silently in Sorim.
If you can break the wall of your self
You will become infinite in time and space.

4. On Speech
Your evil tongue will lead you to ruin. You must keep the stopper in the bottle. Only open it when necessary.
Always speak well, in the manner of a Bodhisattva. Do not use vulgar language in the temple.
If you come upon two people fighting, do not provoke them by angry speech. Rather use good words to soothe their anger.
Do not make the bad karma of lying, exaggerating, making trouble between people, or cursing others.
Once a man spoke incorrectly and was reborn a fox for 500 generations. After he heard the correct speech, he lost his fox’s body. What is correct and incorrect speech?
If you open your mouth, I will hit you thirty times.
If you close your mouth, I will still hit your thirty times.
You must grab the word-head (kong-an) and not let go.
The dog is barking. Wong, wong, wong!
The cat is meowing. Meow, meow, meow!
5. On Eating
An eminent teacher said, “A day without work is a day without eating.”
There are two kinds of work: inside work and outside work. Inside work is keeping clear mind.
Outside work is cutting off selfish desires and helping others.
First work, then eat.
Eat in silence. Do not make unnecessary noise.
While eating, attend only to yourself.
Do not be concerned with the actions of others.
Accept what is served with gratitude.
Do not cling to your likes and dislikes.
Do not seek satisfaction in eating. Eat only to support yourself in your practice.
Though you may eat good food all your life, your body will die.
The Great Way is not difficult.
Simply cut off all thought of good and bad.
Salt is salty, Sugar is sweet.
6. On Formal Practice
During formal practice act with other people.
Do not be lazy.
During chanting, follow the moktak.
During sitting, follow the chugpi.
Perceive the true meaning of chanting and sitting and act accordingly.
Understand that you have accumulated bad karma which is like a big mountain. Keep this in mind as you bow in repentance.
Our karma has no self-nature, but is created by our mind. If our mind is extinguished, our karma will be extinguished. When we see both as empty, this is true repentance. We bow to see true nature and help others.
Shouting into a valley
Big shout: big echo.
Small shout: small echo.
7. On the Dharma Talk
When you listen to the words of the Zen teacher, keep your mind clear.
Do not be attached to the words. Cut off all thought and pierce the true meaning.
Do not think, “I already have great understanding; I have no use for this speech.” This is delusion.
If you have a question, put it to the Zen teacher after the dharma talk.
If a snake drinks water, the water becomes venom.
If a cow drinks water, the water becomes milk.
If you cling to ignorance, you create life and death.
If you keep clear, you become Buddha.