“In Tibet, there were many hermits like Milarepa who gave up all ordinary activity and meditated in caves. This kind of practice is wonderful, but the hermit tradition has waned as the times have generated. This is why some great lamas such as Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thaye instituted the 3 year retreat as a good context for practice. This tradition has arisen out of their efforts.
In Tibet, many people devoted themselves to monastic life, but very few did retreats. Those who undertook three-year retreats did so on their own initiative, out of their own personal motivations. If ordination was a way to get out of the cycle rut of worldly life and to rise above it to some extent, doing a retreat was like taking a further step, making a deep commitment to putting the teachings into practice. Becoming a lama was held in high esteem.
Westerners who chose to undertake a 3 year retreat do it out of their own motivation even more so : nobody makes them do it neither king, president, nor parents. It truly comes from their own aspiration, from their own wonderful inner motivation. Considering impermanence, it is never a mistake to renounce outer things in order to give ourselves completely and profoundly to Dharma practice.
This kind of retreat is the best way to practice Dharma intensively for three year, without worldly cares or distractions. This period offers the most favorable conditions for devoting all the energies of body, speech and mind to the most important tantric practices : sadhana of the yidams, yogas of Niguma, the Five Golden Teachings, Mahamudra, and so forth. If your are considering doing a 3 year retreat in the future, you must prepare yourself well for it. If you can actually follow through on it, it will give extraordinary meaning to your human life.
Even if you do not continue in total commitment to the Dharma once the retreat is over you will still have used all your energy in a very positive pursuit during that time, and that alone is an extraordinary achievement.A 3 year retreat offers the opportunity to get well acquainted with Dharma and with tantric practices. Afterward, we can follow up by doing lengthy solitary retreats and eventually attain buddhahood in this very life.”
“Considering impermanence, it is never a mistake to renounce outer things in order to give ourselves completely and profoundly to Dharma practice. The 3 year retreat is the best way to practice Dharma intensively for three years, without worldly cares or distractions.”
Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche