Usually, when I am not very busy and have time, I have gone on retreats for two to three months in a year, but when I am busy I make it a point to go for at least a month. This is my way of improving and recharging the practice that I have established back in Tibet. It is my way of continuing my practice on training my mind for an extended period of time and improving my meditative experience.
Recently when I expressed that I was planning to go for a retreat, it seemed that some of my students felt bad for me and said “sorry”, that I really needed the time to be away and sympathized with me. Some said that since I deal with people’s pain and suffering on a regular basis, that I needed to be free from all those demands for some time. It seems that the general understanding of retreat is an escape from the daily activities of life and a temporary haven for relief. Like the analogy of pouring cold water over a container of bubbling hot water, to many retreat means a temporary period to be away from the daily stresses of life and a short-term solution to one’s basic problems and beneficial only for this life.
This is completely different from my understanding of the purpose of a retreat. During Rinpoche’s retreat, we will be scheduling some extra Dharma activities, primarily meditation sessions at different times of the day and evening, and maybe a movie night or two. We’ll have a schedule in next week’s newsletter. Rinpoche, as you will read in his teaching, supports our sangha immensely with his meditation and prayers during retreat. And we will support him with our meditation as well. As he has taught many times, we support him with offering, service, and practice. But by far our greatest gift is our practice of the dharma with meditation. We want to provide a whole new level of group meditation opportunities during this month.