Hard practice


So, back from a three-day retreat. Ahhh. If only I could focus better … Well, no use in having regrets. But … in interviews with the Zen master, I am often too quick to open my mouth. Mouth shut, more listening. So, don’t make anything. Don’t make regrets. Don’t make kicking myself for missing the chance to ask a great question (kick, kick!).

The Zen master recommended that those who can should do a long retreat — two weeks or more. It’s the best gift you will ever give yourself, he said.

I said: I know it will really suck.

He said: No. It will be very, very hard. But it won’t suck.

I wish I could tell you that after a retreat I feel fabulous, or reborn, or something. Mostly, I feel drained. But it’s drained like you feel when you’ve done hard labor for hours, or all day (or for three days). It includes satisfaction (much good work got done) and also some dissatisfaction (there is always more work to be done). That sounds too negative. I’m relieved it’s over. I’m sorry it’s over. And I can’t resist saying — these are not different.



2 responses

  1. You teacher gave some good advice – sitting a longer retreat does open up a bigger vista of the practice. I’ve never been able to participate in a full Kyol Che, but I have sat periods up to five weeks and the ordinariness of the experience is quite wonderful. The retreat loses its “specialness” and just becomes daily life. It is, indeed, the greatest of gifts.

  2. I drive up to the mountain near the city whenever I need a retreat and if I don’t have the time I just go to the park by my house and I meditate under a big eucalyptus tree. – The smell is truly something – It might not be the Bodhi tree but then again I’m not Gautama Buddha either 😉