Zen Sesshin October 6-8 2013 (residential retreat)

Sesshin, literally “to collect the mind”, is the Zen Buddhist seclusion or intensive period, consisting of 3-14 days of silent meditative practice. Included in these periods are daily zazen, chanting, communal meals, Dharma Talks/Teisho (sermons), samu (work) periods, and private interview (Dokusan) twice daily with Ryuun Joriki Baker, Osho.

During Sesshin, the Zen Student concentrates fully on their practice by collecting and mending the unbalanced energies of mind. This balance of mind we so desperately seek feels hidden from us in our daily lives. We seek outwardly for that which we perceive we are lacking. It is only with a deep commitment, and a willingness to face ourselves honestly, that we are able to break through and realize the perfection that is Tathagata. This systemic realization stokes the flames of true wisdom which burns brighter and brighter as we continue to combust and burn away our delusions and attachments. For centuries, philosophy and theology have tried to explain and conceptualize this process, their attempts are intrinsically shallow and hollow at best. The awakened mind is beyond word and letter, and the path of liberation runs straight ahead. With one true cut, we free fall into the vast emptiness of shunyata. Sesshin is a time to dedicate ourselves to the exploration of this great matter, and a time to realize the vast love and compassion of the Bodhisattva.

Monk in need

We are getting closer to our goal. I can’t express my gratitude to you all. The maha sangha is amazing and this process has been a deep learning experience for me. This is about we, all of life. We all support one another. When I just came home last week and I watched him cry and flail around, it was one of the sadist times In my life, yet all of you were there with me. I knew I was held. Even my other cat rubbed the tears from my eyes. Life is marked by suffering but, its beauty exceeds its pain by far. Life and love is such a gift, please nurture it and don’t waste it.



Seeing into a koan versus knowing a koan.

I always let students know that many times “passing” a koan is not really “knowing” it. When we “pass” a koan we merely see into it (kensho), it does not mean in anyway that we have completed it. As a matter of a fact we never “complete” a koan. If we continue to practice over the years, we may realize a koan’s greater depths repeatedly. I always say the best koans are Genjo Koan, or life koans. When we have insight into a koan, we have a basic understanding of its feel and expression. When confronted with this koan again organically, our dokusan experiences should allow a subtle grounding. Over and over we realize greater depths, endless dimensions. There is no meandering, daydreaming or bells to give pause when confronted with an organic nanto koan. Life comes at you head-on, indifferent to invitation and without reserve. Will you swerve and panic, or will you exhale and go straight on?

Private Teachings

Gassho, Ryuun Joriki Baker, Osho offers private Zen Buddhist Instruction on Wednesdays and Thursdays via zoom or in person at the temple Tuesday afternoons. These private sessions are 1 hour and are designed for those who are interested in the attention and intimacy that only a “one on one” teaching environment can offer. These sessions include opening tea, Zen Dialectic Techniques (Hybrid of Koan Work and Counseling), meditation instruction, meditation, Zen Form, koan work/interview, and integrative techniques.

If interested, please email: Joriki@BlueMountainZendo.org

Phone: 484-735-0636


So much talk about abiding or finding the present moment. Take a breath, you can not escape the present moment. There is no need to “find” it. You don’t fall in and out of it, you are it. So no matter where you are, no matter how you feel or think, you are awake and manifest in full.


The zendo is a combustion chamber, it burns away that which has no true substance, and reveals the substance of truth which remains.

Speaking with one voice

In order to truly speak with “one” voice, we must investigate the shards of the fragmented mind. We are host to a array of internal voices (limitless, primal, child, master, student, ect), and each perceives the world a bit differently. These voices are manifestations of the self, and some manifestations are caught within the scarring of ignorance, delusion and trauma. For spiritual maturity to be realized, these voices must be given permission to speak openly and honestly without the external censorship of others, or the internal supression by other voices. Part of this process is achived by the internal and external dialog between the various voices. Zen Practice offers a wonderful and safe container for us to investigate this work. Many koans invite this type of therapeutic play and ask us to “talk amongst ourselves” or to “strengthen and clarify” a particular voice. When the shards (voices) of mind are balanced, and fluid consciousness is realized. The flawless mirror reflects from upon the cool waters and with a single word the heavans fall from the sky.


One of the primary directions of practice is to cultivate and explore the various footings of emptiness (shunyatta). Early in practice we begin explore the initial stages of emptiness we call oneness. Through this practice we experience a deepening sense of unity with the world around us. For example, when I first started to explore the depths of oneness, I found myself better able to “feel” the world around me. This was such an eye-opening experience for me. It grew from just more empathy for other people to more empathy for all life, including our planet. The lines of devision were becoming so very faint. This feeling of oneness made it impossible for me to continue to hunt and fish. I felt too interconnected, and any potential harm was not worthwhile. This is not to say I am against hunting and fishing; I am not. It is just no longer for me. Tumbling further down the rabbit hole I began to have even deeper experiences. I remember standing at “Sangha Meadows” at Dai Bosatsu and literally becoming the swaying grasses and the buzzing sounds of chanting, yet there was no longer any me. These experiences were the cool breeze of Harvest Sesshin. They swept through everything, leaving not even the slightest trace. Deeper yet, there is the footing I like to call “light switch” Zen, nothing can be said, yet a sound can be made. Getting stuck here is easy. My internal dialog was, “I want emptiness again. I want to be one! Not these dam achy knees or irritating Zen Politics! I will just need to work harder at oneness”. Who can’t be stuck on these initial life altering experiences? We are like a fish in a small pool who swims so hard upward, and with so much intensity that he breaches the water’s surface, and for just a moment, glimpses a whole new extraordinary world, only to come crashing back down into the same old pool. “What the hell was that, and how do I get back?”, we scramble. Everything becomes about this experience. If asked anything about Zen, we thrust this experience forth! Too many together and they sound like a herd of cows! With this being said, it is so easy to make our home here yet, no matter how hard we try, the experience slips through our fingers like cradled water. Soon we are left with nothing but a decaying memory. No matter how hard we try to replicate our experience, the further away we seem to move from it. What a pity. For those who push through, and let go of even this footing, the rabbit hole goes even deeper. I explain these depths as “tearing through”. When we open fully, and let go to even the slightest attachment to oneness, we begin to press against the “membrane” that separates oneness from multiplicity. These two are many times explained as the full moon (pure consciousness) and its reflection dancing upon the ocean’s waves (positivity/ multiplicity). Such an odd reality when it comes to dichotic equations. When we push ever so deeper into one side, we may end up tearing through to the other and thereby creating a truly “non-dual” experience. You may exclaim, “You got your absolute negative in my absolute positive!”. I liken this to a single piece of paper. If we hold up a piece of paper, we may say it is “one” piece, yet that “one piece” is made up of two sides. Take away one side, and what is left? So, our “one” relies on “two”. What does this insight point too? What is it to both realize and navigate the true waters of “non-duality”? To ride the choppy waters of the ocean’s surface without ever truly leaving the darkest and deepest waters of its depths. What now…

Kokoro (Heart/Mind)

My wife is such a loving Bodhisattva. We have four stray alley cats that we adopted when the zendo was in the city. One “Blue” ran into the zendo door, sat down and never left. I perceive I am responsible when any sentient being seeks help from me. Whether this is a person asking, the land weaping, or an animal suffering. Over the past two days a cat, who has obviously been thrown away or lost, has been sleeping under a tree in our back yard. She is dirty, skinny, scared and hungry. Karma has brought her to my home, my attention and my responsibility. For me there is no choice. However, my wife reminds me of the needs of the others already under our roof. This is not indifference or greed but, wisdom and compassion as well. She reminds me of the balance that is needed when we are dealing with resources. Seven beings already inhabit our structure, so there is limited space. It also costs a lot to care for three humans and four cats. There is medical, food, housing ect that is needed for everyone. I fight myself at times to balance heart and mind. As I said, today, for me, there is no choice. I don’t seek to save the world but, those in need who pass through my life will never be turned away. I may not be able to give exactly what is needed but, I will always do my best. She is feed, and she has a place to sleep. Tomorrow she may be gone or she may need more. I will do my best then as well. That is really all that we can do, our best.