In its timeless way, meditative work endures. What is your take on it?

In its timeless way, meditative work endures. What is your take on it?

It’s been 40 years since the first retreat!
Yes, it’s been 40 years since the first retreat at Camp Onanda in March 1982. Where were you in ’82? If you were there, or were a part of the nascent organzation then known as Genesee Valley Zen Center, we’d love to hear from you. If your connection with the Center doesn’t date back that far but still is meaningful to you, feel free to join in.
Share your memories, photos, or just your “take” on what the Center’s journey has been since those early tumultuous days. 
Susan McCallum, a long-time member, has offered to  receive and coordinate reponses, with the intention of sharing them on the website and possibly through future news updates. Send contributions to her at
In Toni Packer’s first talk from the Camp Onanda retreat, she read from and commented on Bankei and his exhaustive quest to discover “bright virtue.” Near the point of death, he came upon what he called “The Unborn.”
In Toni’s words, “Before consciousness arises, before a thought arises, before one is something again—a sufferer or a sitter or a this, or a Buddhist, or a non-Buddhist—before any image arises, what is one, what is everything?”
In the talk, Toni uses some terms such as teisho and sesshin that have been replaced now with “talk” and “retreat.” Listen to the talk here
Thanks to Susan Schepp for the photo of attendees at the first retreat held at Camp Onanda, on Canandaigua Lake. 

Quiet Weeks are happening now through March 4th 

OPEN to in-person participants, only. Apply here.
Design Your Own Retreat during Quiet Weeks at Springwater Center. 

Quiet Weeks offer the opportunity to design your own retreat–with options for timed and open sitting, group dialogues, and individual meetings with the teacher(s) in residence. You may attend as many days as you like.

Listen to the quiet as you enjoy the miles of walking trails, beautiful meadows, secluded forests, cascading water, hillside pond and benches for pausing and sitting. Dress for the cold and take in the beauty and deep silence of winter—directly.
A daily schedule is offered which you may use as you wish. 

Participate in Quiet Weeks either as a guest or as a volunteer. For questions or more details about Quiet Weeks, please contact us.

March 5-12
Silent Meditation Retreat with Les Schaffer


Apply here.

Note that the Center is accepting guest stays during this retreat. See below*
Les Schaffer will facilitate this retreat from his homespace in Massachusetts, via Zoom. Join in and explore sitting, looking, listening and asking questions together with Les and other online participants from near and far.
Here’s what Les writes about meditative work together and how the retreat will happen:
Bringing it home
The early March retreat will be online again this year. By way of inviting you to join us, I’d like to share some thoughts about this retreat and reflections on the possibilities it offers.
In this retreat, most of us will be home—in the very place where our ongoing routines have served to make our homes a home. We will have a chance to do silence and sitting right in the middle of our everyday constructed environments. I will weave this theme into talks during the week. And I will  speak to the feeling of distractedness and various possible responses to that condition.
It is at home that we attempt to “make” our lives moment by moment, day by day, and decade by decade. Didn’t Tolstoy have something to say about this “making” when he said in Anna Karenina, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” ?
What is it like to bring our meditation practice home? What does it mean to us in our very lives, in our bodies and minds, as we wake, sleep, eat, wash, relate and work and worry?  In my experience, this is how we find gold. This is where it counts—at home, long after the retreat is over.
A nearly half century of dedication to sitting and silent retreat has taught me, often the hard way,  that meditation and inquiry must meet us where we are at home. It’s about life, yours and mine, in all of our uniqueness and commonality.
In my experience, a one-on-one meeting with someone dedicated to “bringing it home” in all its particulars is the most evocative and fruitful of dialogs. I will not advise you to sit “my way” but will do my best to support you in deepening a way that is yours. I will work with what is true for you in your own experience of sitting and silence. I will explore this more fully in talks during the retreat.
I will be available for one-on-one meetings for all retreat participants throughout the retreat. I want to encourage you to take advantage of this. Please sign up for and use the meeting times. I will remind myself to talk about this early in the retreat to so as to make it clear what meetings are like, and why they are so important.
We will not have dialogue groups or question and response periods during this particular retreat. In addition I will encourage retreat participants to meet with each other during the week to connect, share experiences, get a feeling for the community of retreatants, and explore our common and unique needs.  I will speak to how we might do this in the talks.
I fully expect that the war in the Ukraine will follow us into this retreat. I look forward to seeing you there, with all that we carry.
Check out Les’s Teacher Page on the Center’s website to learn more about him, or listen to his talk, “The Joy of Learning to Live Ordinary.
Space is available for online participants to attend full or part-time. Register here.
*It’s possible to visit the Center as a guest or volunteer during this online retreat. If desired, guests may combine a guest stay with online participation in the retreat using their own devices. All meals during this retreat will be self-serve. Please email reception to ask questions or register for a guest stay.  

More Online Events

The Next Saturday Program will be

March 19

1:30 pm – 4:30 pm EST

Join us on (access details below) for a 25-minute sitting, followed by a recorded talk by Toni Packer and a group dialogue.

Listen to the talk by Toni Packer shared at the February Saturday Progeram: Recorded at a March 2002, Sunday Program.
In this talk, Toni speaks about living at war against each other, trying within ourselves to conquer the so-called “self,” feeling defeated. Listening in the space of stillness to all this movement, of thoughts, as well as the wind. 
Online Timed Sittings 
Anyone is welcome to join the online timed sittings held when the Center is not in retreat or hosting an All-Day Sitting. Morning sittings are from 7:30 to 9 a.m. ET; evening sittings from 7:30 to 9 p.m. ET. See a visual schedule here of the days they are offered.
Zoom access details for these offerings: ID: 289 037 6188    Passcode: 7179
Online Saturday Programs and timed sittings are freely offered, donations are greatly appreciated!

March 26 All-Day Sitting

All are welcome to attend this hybrid All Day Sitting event beginning at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 4:00 p.m. EDT. We are inviting up to 18 fully vaccinated in-person participants, and an unlimited number of online participants. We are also accepting a limited number of overnight stays before or after the All-Day. The day includes timed and un-timed sittings, a talk, lunch, afternoon dialogue group, and social time at 4:00. Online participants will meet via the Zoom platform, including Les Schaffer who will give the talk from his home in Massachusetts.
For those who would like to participate either in person or online, or to arrange an overnight stay as a guest, please contact us at More information about the schedule and requested donation may be found here.

April Calendar 

See the website Calendar for information regarding the April 9 All-Day Sitting, the April 22-26 in-person four-day retreat with Stew Glick, and for the first time ever, a Saturday online dialogue session with two or more Springwater Center retreat facilitators that will take place Saturday, April 16. More information about these events will be in the next news update.
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