‘Each thing has its own intrinsic value
and is related to everything else in function and position.’
Shitou Xiqian


The Identity of Relative and Absolute

An intensive online Zen meditation retreat with Frank De Waele Roshi.
Seventeen hours of scheduled meditation, practice and teaching.

From 7pm Thursday evening, November 19
through 12.30pm Sunday afternoon, November 22
[times are Central European Time (CET) , UTC plus 1 hour].


Frank De Waele Roshi will offer Zen teachings in English during this three-day online retreat.
‘The Identity of Relative and Absolute’, the evocative Chinese medieval poem by Zen Master Shitou Xiqian, is part of our Soto Zen liturgy. Frank Roshi will unpack this famous yet hermetic text to share the fundamental Zen teachings of the integration of absolute and relative.
Find this poem, best known under its Japanese title ‘Sandokai’, at the bottom of this page.


For this retreat we will meet each other online via Zoom five times a day .
The sesshin is set up around five practices: sitting (zazen) and walking meditation (kinhin), liturgy, teaching (teisho)
and a personal interview with the teacher (dokusan).

The participants follow the program according to their own possibilities, but register for at least two days.



Everyone is welcome. The virtual retreat is open and accessible to all practitioners and friends of the Zen Sangha, regardless of their experience with meditation, Buddhism or Zen.

This will be our eighth online Zen retreat this year and former participants have expressed the sense of intimacy and resonance of our digital format. The consistent schedule of the sesshin creates a deep, quiet container for meditation, nourishing awareness throughout the day. We connect ‘beyond the internet’ and support each other in whole-hearted online practice.

If you are new to Zoom or online conferencing tools, please do not let technology be a barrier. We have sangha members ready to support registered participants with technology questions, concerns, and issues before and during the sesshin.
Feel free to reach out at registratie@zensangha.be


How to participate?
For this retreat we use the simple and user-friendly Zoom. There is no need to register with Zoom.
If you are registered for the online sesshin, we will mail you the correct Zoom links for the different sessions of the retreat  on Wednesday November 18th.
Click on the link a few minutes before the session and you’re with us!
Sign up now and join!. 

Please note
On a tablet or smartphone, however, an app must be downloaded:
Apple: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/id546505307
Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=us.zoom.videomeetings
If you click on the link of the meeting above, the Zoom App will start automatically. After filling in your name you can join the meeting.




Participation fee
for the whole retreat: € 100

for two days: € 70


To register, please use the online registration form.
After registering, make your payment to the Zen Sangha bank account.
Please indicate clearly
‘online Sandokai sesshin’ and your OWN name.
Only upon receiving your payment is your registration valid, which will be confirmed by mail.

Bank account Zen Sangha
IBAN number: BE81 8901 5424 8724
BIC code: VDSPBE91

For questions or more information, please contact registratie@zensangha.be



Schedule of the day

7.30am    opening of the day & zen meditation (zazen)
8am         walking meditation (kinhin)
8.10am    zazen untll 8:40 a.m.

9.30am    zazen and sutra recitation until 10.10am

11am       zazen
11.30am  zen teaching (teisho) until 12:40am

4pm         zazen
4.30pm    kinhin
4.40pm    zazen until 5.10pm

7.30pm    zazen
8pm         kinhin
8.10pm    zazen
8.40         four vows & closing of the day



Frank De Waele Roshi, a qualified Zen teacher in the White Plum Soto Zen tradition of the late Taizan Maezumi Roshi, is a Dharma successor of both Catherine Genno Pagès Roshi and Bernie Glassman Roshi. Frank Roshi lives in Ghent (Belgium) at the Zen Sangha zendo. He works fulltime as a Zen teacher in residence offering training to his lay practice community. He has led international retreats in Germany, France, Finland, Poland and Italy.


Shitou Xiqian (700-790)


Identity of Relative and Absolute

The mind of the great sage of India was intimately conveyed from West to East.
Among human beings are wise men and fools, but in the Way there is no northern or southern patriarch.
The subtle source is clear and bright. The tributary streams flow through the darkness.
To be attached to things is illusion. To encounter the absolute is not yet enlightenment.
Each and all, the subjective and objective spheres are related and at the same time independent.
Related, yet working differently, though each keeps its own place.
Form makes the character and appearance different.
Sounds distinguish comfort and discomfort.
The dark makes all words one, the brightness distinguishes good and bad phrases.
The four elements return to their nature as a child to its mother.
Fire is hot, wind moves, water is wet, earth hard.
Eyes see, ears hear, nose smells, tongue tastes the salt and sour.
Each is independent of the other.
Cause and effect must return to the great reality.
The words high and low are used relatively.
Within light there is darkness, but do not try to understand that darkness.
Within darkness there is light, but do not look for that light.
Light and darkness are a pair, like the foot before and the foot behind in walking.
Each thing has its own intrinsic value and is related to everything else in function and position.
Ordinary life fits the absolute as a box and its lid.
The absolute works together with the relative like two arrows meeting in midair.
Reading words you should grasp the great reality.
Do not judge by any standards.
If you do not see the Way,
you do not see it even as you walk on it.
When you walk the Way, it is not near, it is not far.
If you are deluded, you are mountains and rivers away from it.
I respectfully say to those who wish to be enlightened:
Do not waste your time by night or day.