Issues with going on retreat.

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Re: Issues with going on retreat.

Postby Astus » Tue Aug 07, 2012 7:28 pm

"Pure Land is precisely the sublime method enabling the practitioner to turn his back on worldly dusts to merge with Enlightenment and return to the source (the Mind). Laymen bound up in mundane affairs cannot easily find the time to attend retreats, practice meditation and recite the sutras. This method is, therefore, very suitable for persons such as yourself. Each one can pay respect to the Buddhas and recite sutras or Buddha Amitabha’s name according to individual circumstances and capacities, dedicating the merits thus accrued to rebirth in the Pure Land."

(Yin Kuang: Pure-Land Zen, Zen Pure-Land, p. 24)
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby Pero » Tue Aug 07, 2012 7:53 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Pero wrote:That's why you go on a retreat.


This is primarily directed to Pero:

In 2002, Chogyal Namkhai Norbu told me personally and privately that by doing six days of retreat on Khandroling you can realize what would take six months in other places. I then related this to other people. It is true.

ChNN has also said many times his students _never_ need to do more than three months of retreat at a time.

Thanks Malcolm. I don't think it's necessary to do more than three months at a time actually. I think some retreat, even if only one day retreats, is necessary to get some experience and also to stabilize it. Perhaps that may not be the case for everyone.
Although many individuals in this age appear to be merely indulging their worldly desires, one does not have the capacity to judge them, so it is best to train in pure vision.
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Re: Issues with going on retreat.

Postby wisdom » Wed Aug 08, 2012 9:48 am

I see no issue with going on retreat, and I see no issue with not going on retreat. I see no issue in going for a short time or a long time. In the end it shouldn't matter because phenomena have no objective existence from their own end, so regardless of where you are when you realize emptiness, everywhere you go you will find things to be empty. The same can be said for realizing Rigpa or achieving an end to all phenomena. If it wasn't like this, then these realizations are conditional, and are based on ones surroundings at the time of realization. Thankfully this isn't true and genuine experiences of emptiness (for example) carry over into anything and everything and make it so not a single thing that one can observe will ultimately be found to exist in its own right.

If you are thinking "I shouldn't retreat for X amount of time" then how is this different from thinking "I shouldn't perform X action because its bad"? Is that not in a sense just another form of renunciation, renouncing an extended retreat? On the other hand thinking that "I *must* retreat for only three months" is again placing limitations and conditions on things in an absolute manner.

Finally thinking that the length of time that a person retreats or whether or not they do retreats has anything to do with their capacity, practice, quality of practice or realization is in my opinion not useful at all. All of the great masters we follow and study went on retreats, including ChNNR. So whether or not a person chooses to or not, unless we know all their karma, their intention, and the contents of their mindstream, we can't know whether its a good or a bad choice for them to make.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby freefromsamsara » Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:24 pm

treehuggingoctopus wrote:
Nemo wrote:It's very realistic when you are young and have no ties. Even a crusty bastard like me has taken a few years out of his life for retreat. Admitting that your need for comfort and security is greater than your spiritual aspirations is more honest than saying it is an escapist dream. People love money and worldly life more than Dharma. It sounds like you are trying to comfort yourself by thinking everyone has your low standards.


Might I point out that you know nothing whatsoever about my standards?

Let me put it this way: I don't think I've ever met personally and in meatspace even one Western person who "took a few years out of his life for retreat" and came back a noticeably better practitioner - by which I mean, a kinder, more relaxed and more compassionate person. Sure, I may know nothing whatsoever about their actual attainment. But broken up marriages, severed family ties and abandoned kids all speak volumes here. As does the self-aggrandizing hype along the lines of oh-you-know-nothing-you've-learned-nothing-don't even-try-comparing-yourself-to-me-before-you've-been-to-a-real-retreat.

I'm absolutely certain there are numerous exceptions. I'm also fairly sure for many, perhaps for most, of us it's just a dangerous trip.

underthetree wrote:
This IMO depends on the person completely. For some it may indeed be escapism but not for everyone. But even for those (of us perhaps hehe) for whom it would be escapism, I still think that whatever the original reason was for them to leave, if they put in the practice they're bound to get some results.


Depends more on the time and place, time of life. For me right now? Total escapism, total fantasy. I simply can't go off on a retreat of any kind - I can neither afford the time or the money, and I can't leave my family in the lurch. I couldn't justify it to them and actually, I couldn't justify it to myself either. Any results I gained would have to be offset by my lack of compassion towards the people I love and who rely (to a certain extent) on me.


I agree wholeheartedly. My situation exactly - and, more generally, the situation I've had in mind all along.

Also, for many people in the West - especially men, if my experience is in any way representative - it's long retreats which are the easy appealing option. And it's everyday responsibilities, silly mundane chores and various previously made commitments that such people find unbearable, not long-term solitude. In such a case, going on a long retreat is little but a regular samsaric escape, I'm afraid.

I'm not castigating anyone - as I said, I do know the urge (and have been warned by my teacher not to follow it). We all have our limitations. It's OK.


The goal of enlightenment is to free yourself from the cycle of rebirth and death and freeing yourself from samsara necessitates the severing of your family ties. To have severed family ties is actually a blessing as this means your karma with the other parties have finally been resolved.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby freefromsamsara » Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:29 pm

Huseng wrote:
treehuggingoctopus wrote:Also, for many people in the West - especially men, if my experience is in any way representative - it's long retreats which are the easy appealing option. And it's everyday responsibilities, silly mundane chores and various previously made commitments that such people find unbearable, not long-term solitude. In such a case, going on a long retreat is little but a regular samsaric escape, I'm afraid.

I'm not castigating anyone - as I said, I do know the urge (and have been warned by my teacher not to follow it). We all have our limitations. It's OK.


Mundane chores and various previously made commitments are usually just samsaric activities that are not terribly conducive to liberation.

Long-term solitude coupled with meditation is what the Buddha advised people to do. To be far away enough from people that you cannot hear the cry of a cow. This is how you escape from samsara. No need to denigrate it as some kind of failure to cope with life.

Ideally someone who is inclined to practice will devote themselves to it before creating a lot of commitments. That means not having a family or property. Not having a girlfriend helps a lot, too, because you always run the risk of unwanted pregnancies or getting married in the hopes of securing a good life which may or may not happen in the long-term.

I'm 26 now and have decided for the foreseeable future I'm remaining single and celibate. I will not buy property either. I have the freedom and means to travel around. Instead of going home to a wife and kids, I'm free to go to the cafe and read my books. I can save my money and direct it towards future practice or donate it for a good cause (like funding someone's retreat).

Such freedom when I think about it is a lot more satisfying and worthwhile than being in a long-term relationship (which I've had). The more I think about it the more unappealing relationships seem. A complete waste of time. Most married people I know end up ultimately unhappy while the lifelong single globe trotters of advanced years that I've met are cool, happy, groovy and free. They're the old guys you meet in India who have been there two dozen times over the last thirty or forty years and keep coming back to do yoga or something like that.

In any case, my point is that freedom from commitments is half the battle. Just leaving your family and all the nonsense that comes with the home life opens up immeasurable opportunities. You don't even have to become a monk (which arguably in many places likewise robs you of freedom). Most of our mundane woes are our own creation. We just need to drop them. If you're running with a torch and burning your arm, you need only drop it to stop suffering.


Unfortunately marriage and relationships is the devil which binds us to the cycle of rebirth and death.

When you get into a relationship and god forbid, marriage with someone, you are reinforcing the karmic seeds which had been sown between the two of you from your past lives.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby freefromsamsara » Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:37 pm

Nemo wrote:I don't like excuses. Human potential is almost unlimited, but it is only attainable if you have high standards and work hard. Buddha took 7 years to become realized. Not because he needed to, but as an example to be followed. He probably practiced 38,000+ hours in that time. An hour or two a day will largely be spent untying the emotional knots of your worldly life. Very little exploring and mastery of meditation can be done in such a setting. 1000 hours would be the most basic familiarity in meditation. To be effective it needs to be done in larger chunks. Pretend to be Marpa if you like but without retreat I think you are deluding yourself.

If you take the plunge the price is high. Poverty, no sex and being told what to do can become difficult. I've watched many people with no imagination of how hard it is completely crash and burn. I actually used to entertain myself by watching the minutiae of people freaking out in slow motion on retreat. You will never attain the wages you could have earned. Statistics say that losing those formative years causes permanent wage scarring. Your health will suffer from poor diet and poverty in general. You will lose social contacts and status. If at a later time you seek a mate you will have no property or career to bring to the table. Life will be harder. I can see people not being able to do that. At 40 I certainly can't do it. Embracing poverty is easy when you are young. I understand that if you are finally waking up to the spiritual life at 40 it is probably too late for you. Sorry I touched a nerve but to see human potential disparaged is blasphemous.

To pretend that you know Dharma without actually having done the thousands of hours required is a bit shallow. Even doing thousands of hours is no guarantee. Obviously ;)


The blind and the ignorant measure the capacity of man's potential by how much he earn,how famous he is, how big his houses are, how beautiful his wife his, how successful his children are.

The enlightened and the wise measure the capacity of a man's potential by how much he has developed himself into a Higher Dimensional Being.

Do you think that the siddhis teleportation, remote senses, the ability to sense and influence universal energies come easily without a price?

Even if siddhis and enlightenment are the birthright of human beings, the gods and buddhas will make sure that you want enlightenment more than anything else in the world.

The gods and buddhas will DEMAND that you drop everything else in your life, including your chances of becoming a billionaire, your marriage, your wealth, your children, your family, your fame and ever your life in need be, in the quest for your own enlightenment and ascension into a higher dimensional being.
Last edited by freefromsamsara on Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby freefromsamsara » Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:40 pm

Nemo wrote:When does integration become self indulgence? If you don't often ask that question it is probably the latter.

If you want to practice you automatically simplify your life. If I were going to be serious about practicing again I would not have internet, cable TV or a cell phone. To me they would be distractions. I wouldn't be depriving myself of these things. I wouldn't want them around. If you want to quit smoking you don't keep a pack in your pocket. If you chose to make your life complicated enjoy it for what it is. All you need to practice is a few teachings, a cushion, a mala, some cookies and incense.

The Buddha promised that by his own merit no monk would ever starve. You do get some support if your practice is sincere. Retreat really is the only way to get close to the deity. Like any skill that takes thousands of hours to master you can't just do an hour here or there and expect to be good at it. There needs to be sacrifices.

If you look at Longchenpa or Jigme Lingpa they were homeless bums for parts of their lives. Longchenpa said he preferred the company of beggars. Jigme Lingpa's asceticism could be seen as punishing. But for him it was not. It was liberation from the bondage of materialism. He had more important things to do. I would say if you don't go on retreat at least a month a year or give 20% of your income to the Dharma you are not a serious practitioner. You are a dabbler. Buddhism is a hobby. You will not accomplish the path with so little effort. Which is fine, but a real waste of a potential Bodhisattva.

I could live a very serious life of practice in my current circumstances. I don't because I am not motivated. I have insufficient Bodhicitta and wisdom. Similar to not going to the gym even though you have a membership. The only thing stopping me is me. I love comfort. Sleeping in a bed, warm water, food that I choose myself, the love of a good woman, a job with the security of a pension, HBO, a nice bottle of wine, etc. etc, etc, The Buddhist trend is in decline not because it is "impossible" or "escapist nonsense". It is because people don't want to make the sacrifices. Life is very comfortable right now and making a living brings a decent amount of luxury,.....


Then I say you are blinded by your attachments to the illusionary luxuries of life.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby underthetree » Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:56 pm

freefromsamsara wrote:
The enlightened and the wise measure the capacity of a man's potential by how much he has developed himself into a Higher Dimensional Being.

Do you think that the siddhis teleportation, remote senses, the ability to sense and influence universal energies come easily without a price?

Even if siddhis and enlightenment are the birthright of human beings, the gods and buddhas will make sure that you want enlightenment more than anything else in the world.

The gods and buddhas will DEMAND that you drop everything else in your life, including your chances of becoming a billionaire, your marriage, your wealth, your children, your family, your fame and ever your life in need be, in the quest for your own enlightenment and ascension into a higher dimensional being.


Try telling that to Kukkuripa's dog.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby dharmagoat » Wed Aug 15, 2012 1:11 pm

freefromsamsara wrote:Unfortunately marriage and relationships is the devil which binds us to the cycle of rebirth and death.

When you get into a relationship and god forbid, marriage with someone, you are reinforcing the karmic seeds which had been sown between the two of you from your past lives.

It ain't the loving that's the problem, it's the needing. It seems that many are unable to make the distinction, and so confine themselves to a loveless world.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby freefromsamsara » Wed Aug 15, 2012 11:46 pm

dharmagoat wrote:
freefromsamsara wrote:Unfortunately marriage and relationships is the devil which binds us to the cycle of rebirth and death.

When you get into a relationship and god forbid, marriage with someone, you are reinforcing the karmic seeds which had been sown between the two of you from your past lives.

It ain't the loving that's the problem, it's the needing. It seems that many are unable to make the distinction, and so confine themselves to a loveless world.



If you don't need it, you wouldn't even spend a single second on it.
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Re: The Buddhism trend in decline.

Postby underthetree » Thu Aug 16, 2012 12:48 am

freefromsamsara wrote:
dharmagoat wrote:
freefromsamsara wrote:Unfortunately marriage and relationships is the devil which binds us to the cycle of rebirth and death.

When you get into a relationship and god forbid, marriage with someone, you are reinforcing the karmic seeds which had been sown between the two of you from your past lives.

It ain't the loving that's the problem, it's the needing. It seems that many are unable to make the distinction, and so confine themselves to a loveless world.



If you don't need it, you wouldn't even spend a single second on it.


You assume need, but there is also the state of being needed. They are very different.
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