Places to do "dark retreat" in the greater Seattle area?

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Places to do "dark retreat" in the greater Seattle area?

Postby monktastic » Tue Jul 09, 2013 5:03 am

I put "dark retreat" in quotes because mine cannot (yet) be a formal Tibetan dark retreat. I haven't had the instruction or preparation.

I'm guessing I will get some responses chiding me for being brash, and if so I understand the concern. But my intention is to start small (24 hours) to acclimate myself. My only intention is to allow awareness to rest naturally, without any external visual or auditory distractions. I don't have a formal teacher, but am in contact with a well-respected Kagyu teacher who knows me somewhat.

It's rather hard to find a place that's easy to make perfectly dark, and nearly perfectly silent. But there must be such a place in the myriad forests surrounding Seattle, where I live.

In lieu of that, maybe I have to rent or buy an RV or trailer and drive it out myself (as my mini-SUV can haul up to 4400 lbs).

Or maybe there are existing dark retreat cabins I simply don't know about (and that someone is willing to PM me about)?

Cheers,
M
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
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Re: Places to do "dark retreat" in the greater Seattle area?

Postby ReasonAndRhyme » Tue Jul 09, 2013 3:48 pm

monktastic wrote:I'm guessing I will get some responses chiding me for being brash


Yes, indeed :tongue:

You really shouldn't do that without instructions from your teacher, but obviously you know that already...
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Re: Places to do "dark retreat" in the greater Seattle area?

Postby monktastic » Wed Jul 10, 2013 6:14 am

My teacher agrees that trying to do a proper dark retreat is not advisable (and anyway impossible, since I don't have instruction), but he's certainly on board with 24 hours meditating in the silent darkness.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
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Re: Places to do "dark retreat" in the greater Seattle area?

Postby ReasonAndRhyme » Wed Jul 10, 2013 6:23 pm

OK, sorry for bugging you, your first post sounded to me as if you didn't have a personal teacher or instructions. Good luck!
"Forget about being clever, and simply remain." Guru Rinpoche, Treasures from Juniper Ridge
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Re: Places to do "dark retreat" in the greater Seattle area?

Postby monktastic » Fri Jul 12, 2013 2:05 am

No problem, ReasonAndRhyme. Thanks for the concern.

So far the closest I'm able to get is to put in earplugs and wear this thing: http://www.mindfold.com/

Did a few hours of that today. Can't wait to do the "real thing" :smile:
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One will understand it in due course.

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Re: Places to do "dark retreat" in the greater Seattle area?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Jul 12, 2013 7:59 am

A nice deep cave will do the trick.

Last week I was discussing dark retreats with a lama and they told me that to do a full dark retreat you have to know the zhitro deities. The standard procedure is to do shorter dark retreats, using guru yoga as a stabilising practice, until getting acclimatised for a full retreat.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Places to do "dark retreat" in the greater Seattle area?

Postby monktastic » Sat Jul 13, 2013 8:15 am

Yes, I happened to be in a deep cave under Mount St Helens last weekend, which is what reminded me :smile:. Unfortunately these are hard to find for private use.

It will not be possible for me to do a classical dark retreat, but (attempting) meditating (or undistracted non-meditating, rather) in the dark for 24 hours should be relatively safe.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
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Re: Places to do "dark retreat" in the greater Seattle area?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Jul 13, 2013 9:05 am

In the past I lived in an area with access to caves and used to do short solitary dark retreats. Be prepared for all manner of things to surface, things that you could never imagine your mind would be capable of creating. Actually, I stopped practicing this way until I could find a teacher capable of explaining to me exactly what was happening. Consider yourself warned! :smile:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Places to do "dark retreat" in the greater Seattle area?

Postby ReasonAndRhyme » Sat Jul 13, 2013 5:34 pm

Sensory deprivation normally induces hallucinations and can even lead to psychotic episodes. That's why one should be so extra careful with this form of retreat.

And all kinds of suppressed material comes up.

edit:

The Encyclopedia Britannica article on hallucinations is quite helpful to understand the analogies between meditation and sensory deprivation:

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/252916/hallucination
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Re: Places to do "dark retreat" in the greater Seattle area?

Postby philji » Sun Jul 14, 2013 7:32 pm

Why do you want to do dark retreat?
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Yangtik Nagpo information....Tulku Sang Ngag Rinpoche

Postby philji » Sun Jul 14, 2013 7:49 pm

Yangti Nagpo Information by Sarah Schneider
Dungtso Repa the Earlier, was a tertön in the thirteenth century in Tibet. His reincarnation was Dungtso Repa the Later in the fifteenth century in Tibet. Dungtso Repa the Later became a disciple and then the consort of the female tertön, Kunga Bum. From among the treasures he revealed, three are most famous. The last of these was revealed in Lake Mandal Nagpo behind Dakpo Gampo Monastery. From this lake, Dungtso Repa discovered a treasure casket. Inside was the cycle called, The Single Golden Letter of the Black Quintessence in English, yang ti nag po gser gyi ‘bru gcig in Tibetan. Much later, the previous incarnation of Trulshik Rinpoche, named Trulshik Do-ngag Lingpa (1862-1922) rediscovered the Black Quintessence, or Yangti Nagpo in the form of a mind treasure. This second opening of the treasure added the Lama and Dakini to the three roots practice of the peaceful and wrathful ones, and also supplemented practical instructions. There is both the long lineage transmission for this cycle, and the short lineage. The short lineage for the Black Quintessence goes from Dungtso Repa the Later, to Trulshik Do-ngag Lingpa, to Shuksep Jetsunma (1828-1953) to Trulshik Do-ngag Lingpa’s reincarnation, Trulshik Rinpoche (1923-2011), to Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche.
Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche has a close connection to this practice. Rinpoche is the reincarnation of Gochen Tulku Drimed Lingpa. There is some dispute over how many reincarnations there have been. Some say Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche is the fifth incarnation, some say the sixth. Going with Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche being the fifth incarnation of Gochen, the third incarnation was named Tsewang Tendzin. Tsewang Tendzin’s primary meditation practice was the Black Quintessence, as was his sister’s. They focused on this cycle, the Black Quintessence, as their main practice.
Therefore, when Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche was living in Nepal, he made a point to receive the Black Quintessence from Trulshik Rinpoche. Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche began at the beginning of the cycle with ngondro, and progressed through the stages of the generation stage of the peaceful and wrathful ones, through Great Perfection. Then and only then was Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche able to actually practice in what is known as dark retreat. Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche completed ngondro and then wanted to do the mantra recitations of the generation stage in strict retreat. Conditions at Shechen Monastery in Nepal, where he was living, wouldn’t allow for that degree of privacy. So Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche went into a cave in Paro, Bhutan and sealed the door for his recitations. Many years later, Tenga Rinpoche gave the reading transmission of the tengyur at Shechen Monastery. During this long reading transmission it was easy to meet with Trulshik Rinpoche, who was staying on the same upper floor as Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. During this time, Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche sealed himself in his room to do the rushen and dzogchen practices. He set up a radio in his room with the reading transmission going. So he could hear Tenga Rinpoche’s voice giving the transmission of the tengyur while he did his practice. Once that was completed, Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche practiced in the actual dark retreat. He used the restroom as his dark retreat hut. In Trulshik Rinpoche’s restroom, there was a small toilet closet with a window, and then a larger restroom area. They sealed off the toilet closet so the restroom was pitch dark. It was there that Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche did his dark retreat. Trulshik Rinpoche came in and sat on a chair everyday to give Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche his instruction and visualization for the day.
The Black Quintessence is a very rare lineage. Trulshik Rinpoche told Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche to come back and do the dark retreat again. But Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche ended up traveling extensively and Trulshik Rinpoche has now passed away. Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche feels the need to pass this lineage on to his disciples for fear of this lineage dying out with him.
Many students have asked about attending the Black Quintessence, Yangti Nagpo teachings in Santa Fe in May. Regarding this, Rinpoche says that anyone is welcome to attend to receive the blessings. Plus, we will begin at the beginning with ngondro, so there isn’t anyone that is not permitted to receive ngondro teachings. That being said, Rinpoche does want to clarify that we will not immediately be heading into dark retreat.
For Rinpoche’s students that have participated in the Yeshe Lama program for example, Rinpoche wants them to perfect the practices they have already received. Or deepen the practices through attending the tödgal retreat. These students are still welcome to come to the Yangti Nagpo teachings if they are curious or interested.
The outcome of receiving the entire Yangti Nagpo cycle and doing all of the practices required, is that Rinpoche will lead one student at a time through dark retreat. Rinpoche is looking into a special retreat area for this, and students can build the actual dark retreat hut with Rinpoche down the road. But Rinpoche wants to make clear that because this cycle is so rare, and because Rinpoche himself had to go through many years of practice and preparation before doing the actual dark retreat, Rinpoche has no intention of presenting a watered-down version for westerners. Rinpoche’s intention is to bestow the authentic and complete cycle from beginning to end, thereby preserving this precious and rare lineage.
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Re: Places to do "dark retreat" in the greater Seattle area?

Postby monktastic » Sun Jul 21, 2013 2:25 am

I should have been careful not to use the words "dark retreat" -- even in quotes. I want to be clear that I have no intention of practicing togal! I can't even say I'm practicing trekcho. I merely find that allowing awareness to rest in a variety of environments makes my practice more well-rounded. The silent darkness is a unique setting, where I think I will face different challenges than in my daily sits.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
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Re: Places to do "dark retreat" in the greater Seattle area?

Postby smcj » Sun Jul 21, 2013 9:33 am

There are also "yellow retreats", where you do your normal eating, cleaning, etc. in the light and only do your practice sessions in the dark. Those are much simpler to arrange. In fact, you can just close your eyes, or put on one of those funny sleeping masks!
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: Places to do "dark retreat" in the greater Seattle area?

Postby monktastic » Sun Jul 21, 2013 8:22 pm

Yes, for now I am using this thing with earplugs: http://mindfold.com/. Not super comfortable, and can't really be slept in, so a really dark room will be an upgrade for longer sessions :)
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
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