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Beyond Words – the Lived Experience of Koans, 4-day Online Retreat

Autumn Online Retreat: September 29 to October 2
led by Valerie Forstman, with Henry Shukman
Beyond Words – the Lived Experience of Koans

Koans are not riddles.
They are not talking points for discussion.
They are not devices to be used for psychodrama.
Nor are they checklists to be knocked off in some deluded idea of progress….

They are opportunities to change the way we experience our very lives. They grant us the chance to change our experience from something shallow, two-dimensional, paper-dry, to something of limitless depth and unbounded dimension, and infinite potential.

In this retreat we will venture into the “Playing Fields” of what Zen calls our Original Nature — free of time, free of separation, free of limits, yet utterly ordinary too. A boundless realm of possibility that is right here, right now, in the midst of our daily life.

Koans can open us up to infinite mystery, yet are plain as day. “Rice in the bowl, water in the bucket,” as Yunmen puts it.

Join us online for four days of ordinary miracles led by Valerie Forstman with Henry Shukman.

Participants from all over the globe attend our online retreats. If you have never participated in one of our online multi-days retreats, please consider joining us. We create a remarkably intimate sense of community practice and inter-connection during these retreats. When you register, you will receive some tips for setting up an at-home zendo to support your experience.

Attendance Options

Though we encourage full time attendance, we offer a flexible part time option that allows you to choose your own sitting days and/or hours of practice. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our registrar.

Each day will begin at 6am MT with silent sitting for two hours (four 25 minute sessions with 5 minutes of walking in between). Valerie or Henry will open each day during the 9am sitting block with a short welcome and perhaps a guided meditation. For those who may find it hard to sit for as many hours as the retreat offers, consider joining the retreat at 9am MT and concluding your day at 3:30pm MT .

Daily Schedule (MT)

6-8am               Morning/early silent sitting
8:45am             Movement
9-10am             Sitting
10:10-11am      Dharma Talk
11am – Noon     Sitting
Noon-1:00pm   Lunch and break
1-2pm               Sitting
2pm                  Movement
2:15-3pm          Q&A
3-3:30pm          Sitting
3:30-6:30          Break, rest, dinner
6:30-8:30 pm    Evening silent sitting (Thursday-Saturday)

The schedule may change slightly.

This Autumn retreat will be online only, no onsite participation. We are still sorting our technical issues and need more time to come up with good hybrid solutions. Our Rohatsu Sesshin in December will most likely be a hybrid retreat.


Full Time Attendance: $240 
Part Time Attendance: $120 (if you attend half time or less)
Benefactor: $360 helps to support Mountain Cloud and provides financial support for those who need assistance

When estimating how much time you will spend at the retreat, use your best judgement whether to enroll as full time or part time. If you need financial assistance, contact Johanna to make arrangements. We wish to make it possible for all to attend.

NOTE to Koan Intensive Participants
If you are enrolled in the 10-Day Koan intensive, do not fill out the form below. Instead, click here to register for the four day retreat. Contact Sarah about the Koan Intensive if you have questions.

Spring 2023 Virtual Retreat Registration

Have you done a multi-day meditation retreat in the past?(Required)
Mention past or current teachers, meditation retreats you have done, describe your daily sitting practice if you have one
e.g. friend, web-search, teacher, book, etc
Select your payment option(Required)
Full fee is for attending 3 or 4 days. If you attend fewer than 3 days you may select the part time fee. Benefactors help support those with financial need attend the retreat. If you need financial assistance please contact our registrar Johanna, mczcadmin@mountaincloud.org to work out a payment.
How would you like to make your payment?(Required)

Image by LoggaWiggler from Pixabay.com

September 29, 2022
October 2, 2022
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