Below are some questions and answers that might help you. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask here:
Question: I am not an experienced sitter: can I join a retreat?
Answer: Yes. Some of the retreats offer the possibility of doing only part of it (usually the weekend). You might start with participating in one of these. You might also want to get used to sitting several periods of zazen in a row. Some retreats have sitting periods of 25min, others have 40min periods. If unsure, please check before you register. Retreats do not require experience, they require sincere effort.
Question: Am I expected to wear robes and/or rakusu?
Answer: No. We just recommend that you wear loose clothing, preferably dark coloured. Shoulders and knees should be covered. However, if you want to wear a robe or a rakusu you are welcome to do so.
Question: Can I use a chair if the physical pain (e.g. knee pain) becomes too intense?
Answer: Yes. The essential point is for the practice to be as sustained and constant as possible. See the discussion of pain in the “Third Day” section of The Constant Practice of Right Effort lecture.
Question: Why do these retreats encourage night sitting?
Answer: Try it and you will see! No, it is not macho, nor is it trying to outdo yourself or someone else. It is perfectly natural. See the discussion in the introduction lecture of Enjoying the Way and The Constant Practice of Right Effort.
Question: Do I have to prepare myself for a retreat?
Answer: Yes. One form of preparation is – after registration – to write an email to Jeff stating where you actually are in your practice. This is not some kind of entrance exam but a way for Jeff to be able to provide the best possible support to you during the retreat. Apart from this it is always a good idea to prepare for a retreat, whether you are a relative beginner or not. Be sure you are well rested before the retreat starts. Get used to sitting several periods of zazen in a row. A retreat is a precious opportunity, please use it well.
Question: My health is not too good. Is that a problem?
Answer: Maybe. It all depends on how serious your health issue is. Upon registration you will receive a registration form with questions about your physical and mental health, allergies, diets etc. Please note that during the retreat you yourself remain responsible for your own well-being at all times. Part of this responsibility is carefully and truthfully filling out this form. Depending on the answers we will contact you for further information.
Question: Do I need to speak English during one-on-one?
Answer: Not necessarily. Usually there are one or two interpreters available (senior Zen practitioners) that can accompany you during one-on-one. The lectures are in English so it’s assumed that you are able to at least understand spoken English. In Hungary the lectures are being translated into Hungarian. If language is a problem for you, be sure to mention it when you register. We will try to accommodate you.
Question: What is the cost of a retreat?
Answer: The cost of a retreat is just that: what it costs. This chiefly consists of the cost of securing the space for the retreat, and for food, and so varies among retreat groups in different locations. As no profit is made, any remaining funds will be used for Dharma activities such as sending books, assisting those who cannot afford the retreat fee, etc.
Question: What if I really want to attend, but can’t afford the retreat fee?
Answer: Let us know and we will do what we can. No one will be denied the opportunity due to lack of money.