using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Spring 2011
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly spring 2 0 11 48 humorous because retreat is the opposite of escape. It’s about no escape. When you go into retreat, everything you’ve been trying to avoid surfaces. So often we don’t have a very sane relationship with our mind. It’s all about what you want and what you don’t want rather than being there. Practice is about seeing that for what it is. And that is a challenging prospect. guy arMstroNg: It is. You get into a retreat setting, and you go through a period of homesickness. You’re miss- ing your partner, your chil- dren, the comforts of home. You spend some time adjust- ing to the schedule and your body being unaccustomed to so much stillness. There’s a pressure-cooker effect. You have nothing left to deal with than the mind at that point. In seclusion, we’re not spin- ning our wheels trying to deal with shopping lists and babysitters and commuting to work. While that simplic- ity is a kind of escape from the hassles of daily life, you are plunged into the mael- strom of the untrained mind. Working with each klesha as it arises becomes the biggest challenge and biggest obsta- cle in our life. gEoffrEy shugEN arNold: As Elizabeth and Guy were talking I was struck with the thought of human beings’ uncanny ability to get used to anything. Those early experiences of struggle and homesickness and aching body and so on get settled. And then there is a comfort we can develop within retreat which is not altogether a bad thing. We’re learning how to practice more effectively and in a more relaxed and refined way. Inten- sity is no longer necessarily grueling. But there is a danger in that refinement. Once we develop some skill and adeptness and the surface frictions no longer affect us, we need to dis- cover a deeper level of motivation to challenge ourselves to genuinely practice rather than just stay on for the ride. guy arMstroNg: The quality of samadhi, or one-pointedness, the refinement and stability that develops, which is hard to generate as strongly in daily life, is so strong in retreat that when something new comes into the present moment—such as a flash of anger or loneliness or despair—we can fully recognize it and form a relationship to it. Samadhi gives the mind the strength to form that relationship in a positive way, whereas in daily life we might just be overwhelmed by the force of it. buddhadharMa: Shugen was suggesting that when we become accustomed to retreat, we can perhaps be wooed into a kind of false comfort. We know that ego is a tricky customer. Can ego subvert retreat at that point? ElizabEth Mattis-NaMgyEl: It can happen and probably will happen to some degree, but if the container of the retreat is strong, we will find ourselves back at the main point of the retreat. I did a six-year retreat. When retreat became much more refined and comfortable, it became important to me to notice when I was actually practicing and when I was not practicing. I found I could sit in a lotus position, follow the breath, recite mantras, and do all of it without practicing at all. At other times I might have a blissful experience or a very pleasurable experience and then want to hold on to those. What does it mean to practice with whatever arises? The ego is extremely adept at holding onto experiences and thinking that that’s the practice. After I had been on retreat a while, I started to realize that the postures and the methods support practice, but the actual practice has much more to do with how I’m responding to my experience. How much of mind can I bear witness to? In the beginning it might be ➤ Photo renshin Bunce