The AZG held our first in-person sesshin since 2019 at Goolwa Beach from April 14-20. Allan Marett Roshi led the sesshin and was joined by apprentice teacher Steve Wigg, who gave his first sesshin Dharma talks during the retreat.

“Sesshin” literally means Se = to touch, to get in close contact, Shin = our heart-spirit (our original, true being). This Autumn we took this practice literally in many ways. Our zendo was generously provided by AZG member Rogier Voorhoeve in a space designed and built by him and his son. Rogier’s commitment to sustainability led him to use the earth from foundations of the house and repurpose it as the floor of the home. This meant we were touching the earth every time we sat together. We’re very grateful to Rogier for giving us the chance to sit together in this space!

This autumn also saw the group welcomed to country in a ceremony held by Ngarrindjeri and Narungga artist and elder Cedric Varcoe. Cedric’s ceremony was an important marker for the group as a welcome to country and as a reminder that deep traditions permeate the land we sit and walk upon.

We were moved by Cedric’s stories and ideas about the importance of connection to country, which made many of us consider our own practice differently during our week. Cedric’s words and ways of welcoming us influenced our commitment to being present on the ancient ground on which we sat and taking care with each moment and each step as a mark of respect for the country in which we were guests.

The sesshin was a great success and a deep time of practice and reflection. Our accommodation was an unusually long walk from our zendo so the walk back for meals became a practice of its own as the week continued (and hopping into one of the cars became an equally important practice at other times!). As well as the chance to sit together as COVID restrictions lifted, we had the rare opportunity to sit with three teachers in the room as we were joined by apprentice teacher Imelda Carlson, who brought great presence and provided a lot of help in the running of the sesshin.

We’d like to thank Allan Marett for his teachings and Dharma talks which delved deep into his ongoing work on the Book of Serenity. And also congratulations to Steve Wigg who delved deep into his personal experience of the dharma for his talks. Thanks also to the AZG committee for all their work to make this sesshin happen, especially David Edwards and Jak Baddams. Jak also offered some words about his sesshin experience:

A warm and busy sesshin, long walks to a very beautiful zendo lacking in the ageing vinyl and corduroy furniture we have grown to love. Uncle Ced gave us a blessing that could be heard all the way to the bottom of the ocean’s roar
There were kangaroos watching the whole time, I like to think.