3-year retreat question.

3-year retreat question.

Postby Clarence » Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:47 pm

Good to see so many familiar faces here. Hello to you all. :namaste:

I have a quick question:

I was looking at some of the 3-year retreat schedules online and found this one for the Karma Kagyu tradition in NY:

Ngöndro (four months)
Mahamudra (one month)
Guru Yoga of one of the following: Marpa, Milarepa, or Gampopa (three months)
Vajrayogini (nine months)
Six Yogas of Naropa (seven months)
Chakrasamvara (seven months)
Amitabha (three months)
Gyalwa Gyamtso (six months).

Now, I was wondering if someone knows why the 6 Yogas are done before Chakrasamvara?

At Thrangu Rinpoche's site they are done after. And, why is Gyalwa Gyatso always done after?

Well, quite an entrance of course, but I was just wondering.

Many thanks,

Clarence (aka Caveyogi from E-sangha, in case anyone remembers me.)
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Re: 3-year retreat question.

Postby conebeckham » Wed Sep 29, 2010 9:00 pm

Six Yogas can be done before, or after, Chakrasamvara, in Kamstang tradition, I've heard. But Yogini has to be done first.......This is because the Six Yogas are Completion Stage practice, whereas Yogini and Demchok practice stress Creation Stage. Of course, both Demchok and Yogini have Completion Stage practices that relate to Six Yogas, and to tummo in particular. But most often, Phagmo is used as one's creation stage yidam when engaging in Six Yogas. Also, Demchok in Kamtsang contains tummo practice in the Creation Stage, and not exclusively in Completion Stage. Demchok is concerned more with Means than with Wisdom (though not exclusively--they're both there!). Six Yogas are means, but they are a means toward wisdom, if that makes sense.

Gyalwa Gyamtso is a self-contained practice, or group of practices, with it's own group of completion stage practices, similar to the Six Yogas. It's my understanding that prior exposure to the Six Yogas is helpful when working with Gyalwa Gyamtso.

These comments are based somewhat on my own suppositions, I must say, so don't quote this as an Official Position of the Lineage, eh? :smile: :spy:
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Re: 3-year retreat question.

Postby Clarence » Wed Sep 29, 2010 9:19 pm

Thank you Cone. That was very helpful. :thanks:

Since you are here, I will pose another question.

I was just listening to Sarah Harding on Dharmageeks about 3-year retreat. She said that in her retreat (Shangpa) they sampled 3 different traditions. She liked it, but she said that some of her fellow students would have rather had not so many different practices so that they could have gone deeper.
Now, if I remember correctly, you are a Shangpa, so what is your opinion on this?
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Re: 3-year retreat question.

Postby conebeckham » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:23 pm

Not having done 3 year retreat, I'm not sure my opinion holds weight on this issue.

I'm guessing that actually they were exposed to four different traditions, really--the Shangpa being the main tradition, but with Karma Kagyu, as well as Nyingma (Chogling Tersar and other Nyingma practices) and Chod being represented. Actually, Kadampa lineage is also well-represented.

These guesses are based on my own personal knowledge, but I can't say what exactly was practiced in Sarah's retreat.

Just to give you an idea--here's a typical daily schedule for someone engaged in closed retreat, following Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche's manual. Times are rough, not exact....

3:30-4 am Yoga of Arising (contains Nyingma and Shangpa elements)
4-6 or 6:30 first session (of whatever the "Main practice" is)
6:30 Water Torma (this is a collection, and comes from various lineages, including Atisha's, as well as Nyingma Terma tradition, etc.)

7 Morning Group Puja--NorgyunMa/Namjom/Namgyalma, Confession/Repair of Vows, Green Tara from Chogling Tersar, Riwo Sangcho from Lhatsun Namkha Jigme.

Breakfast

8:30-11:30 second session Main Practice
11:30-lunch and rest

1:00 or 1:30--4:00 third Main Session

4:00 Afternoon Group Puja-Mahakalas/Other Protectors/short Chenrezig/Surcho

6-8:30 Fourth Main Session
8:30--Chogling Phurba (Nyingma)
8:45-9:00-ish--Lujin/Chod practice (Chod/Machik's tradition)
Yoga of Sleep


You can see by looking at the daily schedule that many traditions are represented. This is based on "Western" (American) retreats.......if one were Tibetan, there'd be more daily recitations, for sure...including, probably, a White Tara and a Vajrasattva daily recitation commitment, possibly a Yangdak commitment in the afternoon--maybe "Thun Shi Lamai Naljor" if one were Karma Kagyu.....if you look and Kongtrul's "Retreat Manual" you can see what was expected during his time. It's mind-boggling.

Personally, I like variety...and I'd view a three year retreat as a training ground, or school, as well as an opportunity....but primarily as a school. I'd welcome a variety of practices. But there comes a time when one needs to focus on a smaller group of practices, perhaps.......and try to take them to fruition.

I can see how people would want to concentrate of fewer practices, and go "deeper"--but hey, that's what you have the rest of your life for, innit?
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Re: 3-year retreat question.

Postby Clarence » Thu Sep 30, 2010 7:29 am

Thank you Cone. Your perspective makes a lot of sense.
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