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Without clairvoyance, we cannot work for other sentient beings - Khunu Lama
Suddenly you will know the different knowledge without study - Thog-'bebs
One may now accomplish the welfare and instruction of all sentient beings, spontaneously and without effort, by simply being, that is to say, by manifesting one's enlightened nature through spontaneously emanating an infinity of Nirmanakaya manifestations - Vajranatha
Absolutely there is a tradition of formal retreats in most lineages of Dzogchen. Just ask one of Chatral Rinpoche's close students about the importance of retreat in Dzogchen according to Rinpoche. My own Teacher, a close disciple of Chatral Rinpoche, spent the last 15 years of His life in retreat. According to Chatral Rinpoche, He achieved the Fourth Vision. There are many, many other examples of this. Or take Chatral Rinpoche's American disciple Yeshe Dorje who has spent the better part of 40 years in retreat. Hence his name "Hermit" Yeshe Dorje. Then again, there's Ayu Khandro, one of ChNN's Teachers who spent decades in dark retreat.
That being said, retreat is a very, very precious opportunity, one as rare as a day-time star. So, if you have that opportunity, you don't want to waste any of it. To me, that means working closely and carefully under the guidance of a Teacher to plan out and implement such a retreat. This is where having direct access to a Teacher is vitally important. You don't want to spend a year doing something useless or wrong. You may never get the chance to do such a retreat in this life again.
Just some advice from someone who has had a little experience with retreat.
Andrew108 wrote:I was wondering if anyone has plans to do an extended retreat and what format the retreat would take.
Retreats are good for Dzogchen practice. I would like to do more dark retreat when I have the opportunity.
Also do you think that in order to properly integrate we need to do retreat?
No, if you are distracted in retreat it is the same as if you are distracted in the world. If you enjoy instant presence in retreat, it is the same as enjoying instant presence in the world.
I have an opportunity in the near future to spend a year in retreat if I so wished. I'm wondering if there need be any set practice except GY?
Ask your root Teacher.
Do you guys have the aspiration to do retreat in the same way that Therevadans do or 3 year retreatants do in Vajrayana?
Some yes and some no. As a Dzogchen practicioner you can take on whatever practice form is useful to you. A Dzogchen practicioner can take on the vows of a Therevadan monk or nun if he /she thinks it will be good for their practice. There are no limits in this respect. If you feel that you want to do a three year retreat in Vajrayana form - go for it. Do what ever you think will help your practice.
Is there a history of formal retreat in Dzogchen or is it that the practitioner takes themselves away from the hustle and bustle and practices whatever arises?
Whatever works for you. Nothing prevents you from maintaining instant presence while doing formal practice.
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Your thoughts, experiences and suggestions are most welcome.
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