Springwater Center is located in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of Western New York, an hour south of Rochester. Situated on over 200 acres of soft rolling hills, the land has quiet trails wandering through open meadows, wide vistas, and secluded hardwood forests. Streams cascade through shaded ravines, and a lovely pond with benches is situated on a hillside with striking views of the valley below.
In the heart of this land is a 12,000 square foot retreat center. The building has 14 guest rooms, a large kitchen and dining area, and a beautiful and spacious sitting room which accommodates up to 45 people. The building also has a library, solarium, and an outdoor area with lovely views for sitting and eating. All meals are vegetarian. The Center is maintained by a full-time staff.
Springwater Center was founded in 1981 by Toni Packer, whose body of work includes five books and an extensive library of recorded talks and dialogues. Trained in Zen Buddhism and chosen by Roshi Philip Kapleau to succeed him at the Rochester Zen Center, Toni was drawn to leave the traditional forms of Buddhism to work with the essence of meditative practice — attending to what is happening within and without, in the immediacy of each moment.
Over the years, Springwater Center has developed into a large and lively community, open to people of all faiths and meditative traditions. Without hierarchy and dogma, people feel free to come here to meditate in deep silence, and to inquire and share with one another their insights, questions, and difficulties.
Silent Meditation Retreats
Silent retreats form the heart of life at Springwater. Open to all, the retreat format has evolved over the years into an innovative and interactive form, which people have come to love. Grounded in the daily rhythm of timed sittings, a morning talk, and an hour-long work period with communally prepared food, people are free to conduct their retreat in any way they choose.
The only requirements are to participate in silence, and to do one’s assigned job. With the miles of secluded trails, outdoor lawn space, and comfortable spaces throughout the retreat building, people feel free to meditate and walk by themselves, or to sit together with others. See Retreats for more.
Teachers and Dialogue Meetings
Retreats are conducted by people Toni Packer asked to carry on the Center’s work: Stephan Bielfeldt, Wayne Coger, Sandra Gonzales, and Richard Witteman. See Teachers for more.
Retreats allow and encourage a deep level of lively interaction and inquiry with one another. Available are private meetings with the teachers, group dialogue meetings and individual meetings between retreat participants. See Dialogue Meetings for more.
This format opens up the hierarchical and solitary retreat form, in which one only interacts with and hears the voice of a designated authority. Here, we are able to interact with one another on an equal footing, and it is enlivening to hear each other’s insights and questions, which so often resonate with our own. Retreat truly becomes a mutually supporting community of friends.
Springwater Center is an ideal place for individual solitary retreats, or to visit when there is a need for open space and quiet. Overnight accommodations are available in the main building, and there is also a retreat cabin in the woods. It is possible to come either as a guest, with reasonable room rates and delicious prepared food, or as a volunteer, in which one participates in the regular work schedule of the center in exchange for lodging and food. See Visiting for more.
Springwater Center conducts many activities for people who live in the general area, including all-day sittings, talks and discussions, group dialogues and individual meetings with teachers. See Calendar for more.
Springwater Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Membership dues, donations, and retreat fees are tax-deductible.