Today, the first full moon of the Lunar New Year, is the traditional end of the 90-day Winter Kyol Che retreat. At meditation and sutra halls all over Korea, and in the Zen halls of Japan, this is a letting go of the three-month period of intensified retreat. At the conclusion of morning practice, “the chugpi is put down” — the formal structuring of a tight daily practice schedule is let go. In many Zen halls in Korea, the Zen compound itself is closed off until the next retreat season.
Today, we concluded our fifth full Winter Kyol Che at Zen Center Regensburg. It was a year completely unlike any previous Kyol Che — the sangha was a community of 1.5 (Fabian could attend every Evening Practice only). In this way it was simpler, without all of the complex organization and caring for the myriad needs and comings-and-goings of guests, integrating this or that person into the delicate watchmaking that is running a Zen retreat on silence.
In addition, unlike previous retreats, we supported an online community of practitioners that numbered over 100 people every day, across many time zones. Those who could not attend the “live” broadcast of our practice in real-time were able to run the video feed from YouTube at a later hour in the day that was more suitable for their home-life and their flow. (So, we often had as many as 45 people participating “live”, and at least that much — and usually more — checking in with the same feed later to do their practice.) On Sundays, the all-Korean talk and Q&A after Morning Practice reached up to 450 people in one day, at its peak.
It has been a great experience, and this community is grateful to all of the beautiful souls who showed their energy and support for our needs. It was not only the occasional financial donation which we received with joy and gratitude. There were also offers to help with editing teaching-videos, and help with social media presence (Zooey! Lyn!), etc.
Thank you all for helping us to carry this beautiful and significant community into the new year. We hope to maintain this oasis of practice for as long as we receive support.