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Buddhadharma : Summer 2010
23 summer 2 01 0 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly practitioners who should be encouraged to do a retreat and others who should not. As for timing, a good time to go on a long retreat is when you don’t have many responsibilities. Few of us are able to sit three-year retreats in the midst of family life. Shorter retreats ranging from three months to a weekend are more the norm in the insight meditation tradition. As for your question about what brings the greatest benefit to others, it depends on how you are in your every- day life and how you practice as a hermit yogi. In family, work, and community life, are you dedicated to openhearted- ness? Are you committed to being mind- ful and aware in the midst of your life? If you are sitting a retreat, are you sit- ting a self-retreat or a not-self retreat? By this I mean, is your intent to try to get something, or is it to learn more about letting go? What’s key is whether you’re living your life with awareness and nongrasping—regardless of whether you’re alone on retreat or with others in community. Although Buddhist communities gen- erally stress the value of retreats, if you are not able to do retreats—perhaps because of physical or emotional vulner- abilities or because of responsibilities to others—it’s essential not to view this as a problem, and to embrace your life as it is. Attending to what is happening right now is the key to transformation. I’d like to stress this point because I come in contact with so many yogis who suf- fer from self-doubt because they are no longer able to sit retreats due to chronic illness. There are many ways to attain the kind of understanding that liberates the heart; it is not confined to any par- ticular form, such as a retreat. Beginning practitioners sometimes ask me if it’s selfish to go on retreat. This strikes me as curious given that daily life activities such as watching television, playing video games, and spending hours on Facebook are not normally questioned. As with all things, it’s important to examine your motiva- tion. Ask yourself why you want to do a retreat. VISIT THE SHAMBHALA SUN ONLINE STORE www.shambhalasun.com SHAMBHALA SUN FOUNDATION An independent, nonprofit corporation. Publishers of the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma: The Practitioner ’s Quarterly. SALE! Enjoy savings of up to 35% on our collection of dharma art – www.thebuddhadharma.com Own the Art that Inspires Buddha Shakyamuni © Wisdom Publications and Schneelowe Enjoy our collection of dharma art captured in beautiful archival quality giclée prints. Taken from the pages of the magazines, the gallery art includes pieces by well-known teachers, artists and contributors, such as Thich Nhat Hanh, Chögyam Trungpa, Kaz Tanahashi, and cartoonist David Sipress.