Zen Retreats


Traditional seven day Zen retreats and shorter gatherings, held throughout the year at our Cloud Mountain Zendo, are a chance to develop and deepen practice.

Seven days of silent retreat follow a traditional monastic schedule of early rising, settling into many hours of zazen and walking meditation, interspersed with period of rest, work practice such as food preparation or cleaning, and supported by regular contact with the teacher in private interview and Dharma talks.

Cloud Mountain Zendo, situated in beautiful, mountainous rainforest country on the north-eastern rim of Kangaroo Valley, eight minutes from Berry township and railway station, two hours south of Sydney, is our regular retreat venue. We also sit sesshin from time to time at Kodoji temple in the Upper Macdonald River area.

‘I came to realize that mind is no other than mountain and rivers and the great earth, the sun, the moon and the stars.’ (Dogen)



Upcoming Sesshin/Retreats


Weekend Retreat in Berry with Uncle Max @ Cloud Mountain
Sep 2 – Sep 3 all-day

Weekend retreat with Uncle Max!

We are thrilled to announce that Uncle Max Harrison, fully initiated Yuin (South Coast country) Elder, will be joining us for this weekend retreat at Cloud Mountain. 

What: A weekend practice retreat for all who are curious and interested in deepening their relationship with dharma and Country. 
Where: Cloud Mountain – Our dojo near Berry (South of Sydney). 
When: 2-3 September 2017
Cost: Dana (Donations for the teachings).
Registrations: Please click here to register so that we know you are coming! 

Please join us for this weekend when Roshi Susan and Uncle Max Harrison (Dulumunmun) will guide us through the mysteries of Zen in this place, on this land. This is an amazing opportunity to spend time with these two ancient traditions and in community with each other. 


  • Saturday: We begin at 10am with morning tea and Zazen. Roshi Susan will lead a special round of koan inquiry before a shared lunch at 1pm. In the afternoon we will spend time doing landcare work in the rainforest gully and more zazen before an early supper (soup provided: please bring trimmings!). An evening dharma talk will consider Dogen’s startling propositions that ‘Green Mountains Are Always Walking!’
  • Sunday: We rise early for zazen and an opportunity for an interview with Roshi Susan, before Breakfast (porridge, tea and oranges provided, bring trimmings). The mid morning will include outside kinin (walking meditation) and sitting, and time to shower and rest, before a quick lunch at 12.   
  • Immediately after lunch begins a walk in country with Uncle Max in Seven Mile Beach National Park (15 minute drive away), for around three hours. Guruwal – Whale Dreaming – is very alive at this time of year, so we will walk in the forest and on the beach, placing our feet into the footsteps of deep-rooted traditional Yuin knowledge and lore. 

We’ll depart for home from the Seven Mile Beach carpark.  If you came by train we’ll get you back to Berry after the walk.  There is a train from Berry at 4.43, or one from Kiama at 3.56.  

If you have any questions about this weekend please contact us on gassho@zenopencircle.org.au 

All welcome. All the time. 🙂 

Zen Open Circle Spring Sesshin (7 Day) @ Cloud Mountain
Oct 7 – Oct 14 all-day

Dates: 7-14 October 2017
Location: Cloud Mountain, Berry (South of Sydney)
Teacher: Roshi Susan Murphy 
Closing date for registrations: 1 October 2017
Click here to REGISTER 


‘I went out following the scented grasses,
and came back following the fallen flowers.’
‘That is Spring mind itself.’

Join us for our classical seven-day Spring Sesshin with Roshi Susan Murphy

Spring at Cloud Mountain is the season of falling citrus blossoms, morning mists, a thousand birds, occasional wombats, many frogs…and Sesshin.

Sesshin is the offer of deep immersion in the Dharma in a setting of silence, zazen and silent work practice, with periods of open sitting and walking in the afternoon, opportunities for Dokusan (personal interviews with the teacher), and Teisho (Dharma talks) in the evening.

Spring Mind is the willingness to settle deeply and clarify heart and mind, allowing sorrows and joys to mature into human wisdom and compassion. It’s the intimacy of not-knowing, not-forcing — just opening to the natural radiance of being more fully here.

Roshi Susan will be assisted by Apprentice Teacher Kirk Fisher from Melbourne Zen Group at this Sesshin, which will also include the beautiful Ceremony of Jukai (Taking the Precepts) for several people.

Spring Sesshin typically fills early. Don’t delay if it’s your intention to attend. Click here to REGISTER 

Please note:
1. Spring Sesshin usually fills early, so don’t delay your registration if it is your intention to attend.
2. If visiting from interstate please book your return flights no earlier than 5pm on the final day of the retreat. It sometimes happens that there can be delays on the train line from Berry to Sydney due to trackwork.
3. For insurance reasons it is necessary to be a member of the Zen Open Circle in order to attend this retreat. Please register for the retreat using this form and our Membership Officer will contact you shortly with information about your membership renewal.


Full time attendance (Saturday to Saturday): $490 + dana*
Full time concession: $400 + dana*
Part time: $80 per day + dana*
Part time concession: $65 per day + dana*

What does the Sesshin fee include?
Zen Open Circle is a not-for-profit organization. Apart from sesshin, our teacher Roshi Susan Murphy receives no payment at all for the generous time she devotes to teaching. Your Sesshin fee includes a contribution towards sesshin costs such as food, accommodation, consumables, insurance etc, with surplus funds from fees, if any, being put toward general ZOC revenue (from which Sesshin scholarships are drawn).

What is ‘dana’?
Dana is the practice of generosity and is central to the life and sustainability of our community. With dana we celebrate the many ways in which we benefit from the great gift of existence and help to support each other’s work. As Roshi Susan does not receive formal payments for her teaching, it is customary that we offer dana in the form of money at the end of each retreat. This money helps to make possible the ongoing gift of Roshi’s teachings and is an acknowledgement of the special relationship between teacher and student. These offerings come from the heart and remain anonymous in nature.


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