I learn a lot about Right Speech from our dharma teacher. In conversation with him, it feels just like a conversation with anyone. I mean, it’s not an official interview, and I don’t feel like I am a student seated at my teacher’s feet. We’re just talking. Later, though, I often realize what gifts he has given in that conversation. Here’s an example:
I said I was considering doing a one- or two-week retreat. He said I should think about doing a one-month retreat. A month seems very long, I said. Very, very long!
A week is not long at all, he said. A week goes past very quickly.
The idea of sitting for 30 days scares me, I said.
The first time I tried a three-week retreat, I left on the next-to-last day, he said.
That made me forget all about myself. I became interested in his experience and what had happened. He didn’t offer any details. He just said he couldn’t take it anymore. Not even one more day. He just had to get out of there. He wrote a note to the folks in charge and said he had to leave immediately. They asked no questions, just let him go.
A year later, he went back to the same place and sat a full three-week retreat, he added.
That was all. We started talking about something else then.
It’s almost as if he handed me the ingredients to make a cake. I was asking for a cake, I guess, even if I didn’t realize it. Please tell me what I should do. Well, here’s some flour, sugar, eggs. Now let’s talk about a bakery I know … Later I realize I’m holding these ingredients. I still don’t know how to make a cake, but I have everything I need.