Have you ever felt like you have had enough of everything that you just want to get away but then you realize that you cannot afford it? Well here is the answer to your ills, the Shikata Zen Homestead is a Buddhist owned and operated 12 acre retreat center nestled in the heart of the Ozarks of Missouri. The owners are Merlyn and Angel Seeley along with their daughter Stacy Seeley. They are best known by their spiritual names Merlyn’s is Retsuzen, Angel’s is Jenchol and Stacy’s is Renchol.
Although they are a Buddhist family and they live their lives as lay Buddhists they welcome anyone that is searching for rest, relaxation, or healing. Whether it is spiritual, mental or physical healing that you seek, you will find it at the Shikata Zen Homestead. Merlyn Seeley is an ordained Buddhist priest and offers his 12 acre remote property to those that want to come and find themselves. If it is seclusion, quiet and peace that you are looking for then you will find it there.
If it is healing you seek, Retsuzen is an herbalist and will show you how to heal yourself naturally using herbs found growing wild around the property or specifically made on the property. Expect to see women and girls crocheting, farm animals being raised naturally, wild herb and mushroom harvesting taking place, composting of everything with no waste, recycling of everything, people entertaining themselves naturally and a whole lot more vast culture that resembles the old ways.
In its beginning stage the Shikata Zen Homestead is planned to be a spiritual retreat center where spiritualists of all types can come and do either group or individual retreats. They do not tell people to pay them anything. In fact all they ask is that those that come to the homestead take part in the work around the property. It is a work-to-stay spiritual place that is free, but they do accept donations. The donations go to the mortgage of the property and repairs or improvements around the homestead.
“Anyone wanting to visit the homestead before doing anything else is welcome”, says Retsuzen and Jenchol. Just contact them via the Shikata Sangha website and they will help you set up a visit or retreat if you already know you want to do a retreat. The Shikata Zen Homestead is run as simple and peaceful as possible with the cabin on the property they stay in off the grid completely and an organic garden grows year round near the cabin to produce all of the vegetables they eat.
Guests at the homestead can partake in family meals three times a day cooked over an open fire and can expect to eat organic and all natural foods that are preservative and chemical free. “A mostly vegetarian diet can be expected while you are at the Shikata Homestead and a lot of herb tea”, says Retsuzen. At night you can see more stars that you can imagine, that paired with the natural sounds of distant coyotes and night owls makes for tremendously peaceful nights at the homestead.
Guests are responsible for their own accommodations right now since the center is in its beginning stage. So bring a tent, RV, camper etc. There are planned retreat huts and cabins to be built on the property that will be used for visitors to use temporarily. If there is someone that wants to stay permanently, the Seeley’s say they do not discourage it and if you are interested please let them know. There are rules however, to keep things peaceful and running as a spiritual place should be.
There are no drugs, no drinking alcohol, no parties, no smoking allowed. As it is meant to be a spiritual place there are spiritual events that take place daily and guests are invited to participate if it is their cup of tea. If there is someone that wants to learn the ways of the Buddha then Retsuzen says by all means let them know and they will put you on the right path as an official student of the Shikata Zen Sangha and Zen center.
Daily meditation takes place in the morning and evening and sometimes just throughout the day as the moment calls for. “Sometimes it is so peaceful and quiet that you just have to stop what you are doing and close your eyes and concentrate on nothing but you breathing”, says Retsuzen. Mindfulness is the main practice at the Shikata Zen Homestead. They offer classes of different types of Buddhist meditations and Dharma lessons are shared throughout the day as the moment calls for.
Guests are encouraged to bring items that will make them comfortable and to share in the work and chores that might include working outdoors as well as on improvement projects. Some projects might include building a retreat cabin with logs harvested from the property’s wooded area, tilling and planting organic gardens, planting flowers, tree trimming etc. Some chores might include grocery shopping, running errands, cleaning the cabins, mowing grass, raking leaves and feeding the animals.
The Seeley’s say that guest will be treated as relaxed as any family member and will be given the utmost respect as it is given to them. Guests can expect to feel as if they are a part of the Shikata Sangha even if they are not. Those that would like to have recreation possibilities while they are at the property can rest assured that the area outside the property has all an outdoorsman could want. Montauk State Park is just 13 miles from the Shikata Zen Homestead where fishing is the main recreation.
The current river provides visitors with swimming, fishing, craw fishing, and relaxation. In the winter the park offers catch and release fishing. The whole area is beautiful enough to just drive down the country roads and look at all the beauty too. Small towns are within a few miles each direction of the property where guests can get needed supplies and work too. Over all the Shikata Zen Homestead is the place to go for rest and relaxation and to heal in more ways than one, whether it’s permanent or temporary.
If you cannot visit but would like to help with a donation to the cause in monetary form, please use this link. Retsuzen says for other than monetary donations please contact the homestead to make arrangements and get assistance.