TZC logo

Toronto Zen Centre

A Buddhist Community


Toronto Zen Centre

Jataka Tale Working Person Sesshin


“Stories are among our oldest, most powerful, most mysterious tools. Through mere sounds on the air or squiggles on a page, they give us what no other technology can – ourselves.” – Sensei Rafe Martin

From March 1st — 8th, a 7-day Working Person sesshin will take place at the Centre. This is a special sesshin for us, as Sensei Rafe Martin, noted Zen Buddhist storyteller and teacher, will be joining us again this year and will give a daily teisho on the Jataka Tales.

In the past, Roshi Henderson has written the following:

Rafe and Roshi Sensei Rafe Martin is an expert Story Teller and Author, who has explored the Jataka tales and Zen practice for the better part of 40 years. He has graciously accepted to come to the sesshin and both introduce us to the deep teachings contained in these stories as well as comment on their pertinence to us today.

Jataka tales are the stories of the Buddha's former lives, and have been vehicles for the teachings for over two thousand years. We will have a chance to ask Sensei Rafe questions (during the first two full days) as well as listen to his trenchant commentary on these profound stories. This is an aspect of Buddhism that is taken for granted in the East but rarely encountered here in North America. It is indeed a unique opportunity!

This type of sesshin offers a special opportunity for practice. First of all and most obvious you do not need to use your holiday time in order to come. More importantly though the discipline of sesshin being folded into your daily life practice can have a powerful and lasting effect on the way you conduct your practice outside of sesshin.

The format of this sesshin differs from the standard full-time format.

Schedule of the Jataka Tales Sesshin

During the initial Weekend portion of the sesshin:
From Friday PM to Monday early AM, the Jataka Tales Sesshin has a full-time, regular sesshin schedule

During the Work-Week portion of the sesshin:
From Monday AM to Thursday PM, Daily: there is a slightly later wake up at 4:30 AM. An early block of zazen continues until the 6:45 AM formal breakfast each day. After breakfast until the end of informal dinner at 5:45 pm is an "open schedule" at the Centre.

People attending during the work-week can go to work, do personal work, help with daily household tasks, or do informal sitting. Everyone staying at the Centre during the day is expected to devote 1/4 to 1/2 of the open time to the jobs necessary for the running of the sesshin (kitchen work, cleaning etc).

Please check with Roshi or the office if there is any question about this.

ALSO NOTE: The spirit of informal time in the working person sesshin is to keep your concentration, through work (either in the kitchen or house tasks) or informal sitting in the zendo. It is not to engage in distractions such as internet browsing, going for a walk or jogging, yoga, casual reading, etc.

Sesshin fees: There is an additional $70 flat fee for attending this sesshin to cover the guest teacher’s honorarium.

Very Important

If you wish to apply for this sesshin, please review the following files carefully. Applications must include all required information, and be in by the deadline of February 8. Note that this is a very popular style of practice at the Centre and applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. Thank you!