Solo retreat

Collapse
X
 
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts
  • Eika
    Member
    • Sep 2007
    • 806

    Solo retreat

    Hi, all.
    Just returned from my 3-day solo retreat. I chose a hermitage about three hours from my house, a relatively secluded 1-room building with a kitchen area so that I could stay there without having to leave to eat. Not like camping, but spartan enough for a retreat.
    Day 1 went well. Day 2 was more difficult (I'll explain in a minute). Day 3 was smoother than day 2.

    Backing up a bit, my wife and I attend a local UU fellowship because it seems like we need to take the kids somewhere on Sunday and given our backgrounds, the UU group is a tolerable fit for my wife and I. The one we attend is a recent offshoot of the Knoxville TVUUC (about 20 minutes away) that you may have heard about recently. There was a shooting during the Knoxville UU service on Sunday that killed 2 and injured several more. The gunman was upset about "liberals" and chose to make his point at the UU church during a children's play. I found this out by phone on my way to the retreat. One of my colleagues at school was at the church and her daughter was in the play during the shooting.

    So, needless to say, there was a lot on my mind during the retreat. Nonetheless, it came and went like all other thoughts. This may be one of the big "take-home" messages for me. Thoughts, no matter how strong, profound, deep, tragic, etc. are still just thoughts and they will pass when they have expended their energy (much like the half-life of radioactive materials--some thoughts have a longer half-life than others, but given time they all lose their energy). Life is the thing that lets those thoughts move on without hindrance. "The expansive sky does not obstruct the floating white clouds" became a clear message to me. For years I assumed that I was the clouds, the thoughts. I see now that self is like the sky, it is not clouds but contains and remains open to the clouds, letting them pass through with judging one cloud as more important than the other or being proud of one cloud because it is beautiful, or being ashamed because several of the clouds are ugly. The sky lets them all be, separate but at the same time a part of the sky.

    I did my best. Sometimes leg pain was an issue. Sometimes mental resistance was the issue. Sometimes the desire to be distracted was the issue. Nonetheless, these issues passed too. Not having others around made the temptation to "cheat" on the schedule a bit stronger than it might have been at a retreat with others, but learning to accept even this about myself was a good lesson. What mattered, ultimately, was sincere effort, and sincere action.

    I never realized how many distractions are built into my life and how often I look to those to distract me from my thoughts. I thought about things (death in particular) to a depth that I hadn't allowed myself before. Why? There was nowhere to hide from thinking about some things. No yard to mow, no bottoms to wipe, no job, no garage to sweep. So, all (or at least a lot) the stuff that I have carried around for years came up. Some of it was not pleasant, but it was no nightmare either, especially having learned better to let thoughts simply pass now.

    I recommend it for everyone. It had the seemingly paradoxical effect of both inspiring me and knocking me down a notch or two at the same time.

    If you want to know the particular schedule I used (it was nothing special), I can post it here.

    Gassho,
    Bill

    PS--The ride back down the mountain after sitting still and silent for 3 days was a thrill. 70 mph felt like 170. Yeeeeeeeehaaaw!
    [size=150:m8cet5u6]??[/size:m8cet5u6] We are involved in a life that passes understanding and our highest business is our daily life---John Cage
  • Fuken
    Member
    • Sep 2006
    • 435

    #2
    Re: Solo retreat

    Bill, Thank you for sharing this.


    Gassho,
    Jordan
    Yours in practice,
    Jordan ("Fu Ken" translates to "Wind Sword", Dharma name givin to me by Jundo, I am so glad he did not name me Wind bag.)

    Comment

    • Shugen
      Treeleaf Unsui
      • Nov 2007
      • 4535

      #3
      Re: Solo retreat

      Yes, thank you Bill.

      Ron
      Meido Shugen
      明道 修眼

      Comment

      • Skye
        Member
        • Feb 2008
        • 234

        #4
        Re: Solo retreat

        Thanks for the retreat recap, I hope to do the same this summer. I'd be interested to see your schedule.

        I read about the Knoxville UU service shooting, so very sad. The inevitable result of the "hate media" continually blaming the "liberals" for every problem, no matter who's actually in charge and running the country into the ground, eventually their message would connect with someone mentally unstable enough to perpetrate such a horror.

        Skye
        Even on one blade of grass / the cool breeze / lingers - Issa

        Comment

        • Charles
          Member
          • Feb 2008
          • 95

          #5
          Re: Solo retreat

          Hey Bill,

          Thanks for the description of your retreat. It makes me think I should do something similar. I've been very distracted lately, and it might be good for me. I too would like to see your schedule if you don't mind posting it.

          Best wishes for your community and your friends in dealing with this tragedy.

          --Charles

          Comment

          • Dainin
            Member
            • Sep 2007
            • 389

            #6
            Re: Solo retreat

            Hi Bill,

            Welcome back. Thank you for sharing your experience. It's a wonderful reminder for us all. I'm also considering something like this for the upcoming 2-3 day retreat.

            Gassho,
            Keith

            Comment

            • roky
              Member
              • Jul 2008
              • 311

              #7
              Re: Solo retreat

              great job on the retreat, bill, solo retreats are difficult to maintain -- i was in the midst of one when i found treeleaf -- on about the third day i could see myself starting to slack off, so i did a search for "online sanga", and there was treeleaf -- i started with the pre-recorded all-day retreat, then started sitting in the zen hall with webcam, interspersed with talks by jundo -- immediately i felt almost identical to when i've sat retreats at meditation centers, and my motivation went way up

              sitting in a silent retreat is not like a spoken retreat --i always found that when i woud walk into the meditation hall, and see even one other person there, again, that we were doing it together -- and in most cases i woud never speak to that person, ever, but that didn't matter -- the "connection" was there -- and i experience that same thing using the webcam in our zen hall, though it helps if the mebeam is functioning properly -- in fact, at this point i may even prefer treeleaf to a physica zendo

              much of what i've said, however, is said with the clarifier that i am retired --- so everyday that my family is away, if only for an hour, can instantly be zazen time

              i don't think this is a "honeymoon" period -- or if it is, i hope it will be a long one -- but instead of being on my usual solo retreats, i now feel that i'm part of a sangha, and the zen hall is in my little corner of the living room

              may all those effected by the tragedy be well

              gassho, bob
              "no resistance"
              thaddeus golas

              Comment

              • John
                Member
                • Sep 2007
                • 272

                #8
                Re: Solo retreat

                Glad your solo sesshin went well, Bill, and thanks for sharing with us. BTW, I had to look up 'UU' - Universal Unitarianism ? I'd never heard of it. :?

                Gassho,
                John

                Comment

                • Eika
                  Member
                  • Sep 2007
                  • 806

                  #9
                  Re: Solo retreat

                  Here's the schedule I used:

                  6a Wake
                  6:20 Zazen
                  7 Kinhin
                  7:10 Zazen
                  7:50 Breakfast
                  8:20 Clean up
                  8:30 Kinhin
                  8:40 Zazen
                  9:10 Kinhin/Break
                  9:30 Zazen
                  10 Kinhin
                  10:10 Zazen
                  10:50 Kinhin
                  11 Zazen
                  11:30 Cook
                  12p Lunch
                  1 Walk/Hike
                  2 Zazen
                  2:30 Kinhin
                  2:40 Zazen
                  3:20 Kinhin
                  3:30 Tea
                  4 Exercise
                  5 Cook
                  5:30 Supper
                  6 Clean up
                  6:20 Zazen
                  6:50 Kinhin
                  7 Zazen
                  7:30 Kinhin
                  7:40 Study
                  8:40 Heart Sutra/Sandokai/Vows

                  As Jundo pointed out to me before I went, I left a lot of time for sleeping (at least more than I would get at most Zen retreats). I considered this, but as a parent of three small kids, I am almost always sleep deprived; so, I gave myself the time to at least be well-reseted during the three days.

                  I did a bit of internet searching for retreat schedules and arrived at what I think was a compromise between the most rigorous ones I found and the lightest (in terms of amount of time spent in zazen, amount of sleep, etc.).
                  [size=150:m8cet5u6]??[/size:m8cet5u6] We are involved in a life that passes understanding and our highest business is our daily life---John Cage

                  Comment

                  • chicanobudista
                    Member
                    • Mar 2008
                    • 864

                    #10
                    Re: Solo retreat

                    Originally posted by John
                    BTW, I had to look up 'UU' - Universal Unitarianism ? I'd never heard of it. :?
                    :cry:
                    paz,
                    Erik


                    Flor de Nopal Sangha

                    Comment

                    • Eika
                      Member
                      • Sep 2007
                      • 806

                      #11
                      Re: Solo retreat

                      Hi, John.

                      Unitarian Universalists are fairly common here in the United States. There are various perspectives, but the one I attend is basically a group of folks who are there to support one another's pursuit of whatever spiritual path they have chosen (forgive my sentence structure). So, as a Buddhist, it is a place I can take my kids to "church" where they will be exposed to a wide variety of religious ideas.

                      Bill
                      [size=150:m8cet5u6]??[/size:m8cet5u6] We are involved in a life that passes understanding and our highest business is our daily life---John Cage

                      Comment

                      • undeceivable
                        Member
                        • May 2008
                        • 35

                        #12
                        Re: Solo retreat

                        Thanks for posting your solo retreat escapade. Really interesting and inspiring. I definitely want to do one now.
                        [color=#4080FF:avauok9l][size=80:avauok9l]"Do not be deceived"[/size:avauok9l][/color:avauok9l]

                        Comment

                        • Jundo
                          Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                          • Apr 2006
                          • 39392

                          #13
                          Re: Solo retreat

                          Bill,

                          It sounds like a very balanced retreat. Thank you for posting. I am proposing that, as one option for our "Jukai 2 day Retreat" for folks who wish, some may decide to go off for a couple of days in the woods like you. So, I hereby appoint you our "Official Treeleaf Solo Retreat Advisor". Congratulations Bill!

                          I am sorry that you had to bring the "Violence Koan" to your retreat. It is something that we must sit with much too often in this world, daily in fact. It is hard for us to remember sometimes, but the sentient being who did this thing was himself filled with anger, pain, dissatisfaction with the world, suffering ... so much so that he would direct that suffering at others. All are victims here, from a Buddhist perspective. (That does not excuse the act, by the way, or suggest the person is not responsible for his his actions and should not be punished. Society has rules that one is responsible for one's volitional actions, a civil Karma. He should be put someplace where he cannot harm again, and he should pay a price for what he did. But in our Buddhist perspective, human violence is a disease always caused by the actor's suffering and lack within ... thus the people in front of his rifle where not the only "victims" of violence, for the shooter was a victim ... we are all victims of his suffering.)

                          The UU churches are generally very kind to us Zen folk, and host many a Zen Sangha. In fact, the White Plum group where I sat and taught in Florida always met at the UU. They are so interesting, with members who are Christian, Jewish, Zen, Agnostic and a bunch of other things all UUers. My friend, and a great Zen teacher, James Ford is a UU minister ...

                          http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php ... 00,0,0,1,0

                          http://www.thebuddhadharma.com/issues/2 ... arian.html

                          Some folks with kids like them because they allow the devotional, community "church" experience for kids and families that is sometimes hard to get from a Zen Sangha (where our big activity seems to be sitting looking at the wall or sewing a bib). But the UU's do so without many of the strings that some folks found in Judeo-Christian worship (James Ford once corrected me when I called him a Christian minister. He is not Christian. He also told me that only fifteen percent of UUers would identify as "Christian" and, in his words, even that probably requires "a broad interpretation" of the term and is about the same number as identify with Buddhism in the UU).

                          Gassho, Jundo
                          ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                          Comment

                          • chicanobudista
                            Member
                            • Mar 2008
                            • 864

                            #14
                            Re: Solo retreat

                            Originally posted by Jundo

                            The UU churches are generally very kind to us Zen folk, and host many a Zen Sangha. In fact, the White Plum group where I sat and taught in Florida always met at the UU. They are so interesting, with members who are Christian, Jewish, Zen, Agnostic and a bunch of other things all UUers. My friend, and a great Zen teacher, James Ford is a UU minister ...
                            UU Churches have housed or house a good number of Buddhist meditation groups. For example, our group (Flor de Nopal Sangha) meets at the UU building in San Juan.

                            Also, the Unitarian Universalist Association has an internal group for Buddhist UU's called the Unitarian Universalist Buddhist Fellowship (UUBF). You can get an idea of where we meet by checking the list of meditation groups.

                            Though a number of UUBF members tend towards Zen, there are also other UU's that follow other Buddhist traditions.
                            paz,
                            Erik


                            Flor de Nopal Sangha

                            Comment

                            • Undo
                              Member
                              • Jun 2007
                              • 495

                              #15
                              Re: Solo retreat

                              Hello,

                              I too did not know what UU was so thanks you all for posting information.


                              Bill,

                              Thanks for posting the information about the retreat. It is very helpful and appreciated.
                              As Jundo has appointed you the " Official Treeleaf Solo Retreat Advisor" I wonder if you could answer a couple of questions.
                              Can you recommend and tips for keeping to your schedule? Did you use a timer, have copies to hand et cetera?
                              Also was there anything you wish you had taken or had taken and but didn't use. I plan to travel light and either bivi or take a small tent so will take as few things as possible.

                              All the best,

                              Philip

                              Comment

                              Working...