Monday, November 24, 2014

Suggestion for Doing Long Retreat: Live according to the Vinaya

Ven. Tenzin Chogkyi

From March 2000 to June 2003, I undertook a 3-year, 3-month (and 3-day!) deity retreat, a traditional practice in Tibetan Buddhism. Five of us engaged in this retreat, although we lived and practiced individually and only met every few months for group practice, which we did in verbal silence, although there was a fair amount of note writing and made-up sign language on these occasions! Two of the retreatants were ordained, and three were lay people at the time (including myself).

Near the end of the retreat, we decided to meet to discuss our experiences, and compile a 3-year retreat manual. When we were preparing for the retreat, we referred to some journal and traditional retreat manuals that primarily discussed the rituals and logistics involved with undertaking such a retreat. However, we really had no information and no idea what to expect in terms of the spiritual, emotional, and psychological transformations we were sure were going to manifest for us and the optimal conditions to help bring these about. Thus after the retreat, we hoped that by compiling our thoughts, future long-term meditators would be able to benefit from our experience.

Monday, November 10, 2014

One at a Time

Venerable Lobsang Khando

Venerable Lobsang Khando after performing a Medicine Buddha puja at the Bhwasa Charity Medical Center, Nepal
Life is a mystery to us and if we examine our purpose, sometimes we are lucky enough to see clearly what our path is. Even luckier are those who get the opportunity to follow the path they have seen. I never believed in luck, but as you will see from my story, maybe I should change my mind.

When I was a little girl my family consisted of brothers, one sister and parents. It was pretty normal for the most part. My favorite color was red; even my rain boots and lunch box were red or reddish. Houses I drew and painted were yellow and red. I loved chanting rhymes as most children do but I would do it repeatedly as it made me feel better somehow. My favorite question was, “Why?” Okay, none of this is unusual. But when you piece it together, something of my past life karma was there, I think, speaking to me right from the start!