3 year retreat vs Daily life practice

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Könchok Thrinley
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3 year retreat vs Daily life practice

Post by Könchok Thrinley »

Hi,

I would like to ask you what you think is better nowadays and is faster in developing one's practice, practice integrated into daily life or three years retreat?

There are several 3 year retreat places around the world now and I always wonder how to make it possible for me to attend one. But then again one has many duties that he cannot abandon and these retreats tend to be quite expensive.

What is in your experience or opinion better? And is it even possible to complete yidam practices in daily life? Is it even possible to engage in such long period retreats for modern human without being super rich?
“Observing samaya involves to remain inseparable from the union of wisdom and compassion at all times, to sustain mindfulness, and to put into practice the guru’s instructions”. Garchen Rinpoche

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CedarTree
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Re: 3 year retreat vs Daily life practice

Post by CedarTree »

Do you mind if I ask if you live in North America?

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Re: 3 year retreat vs Daily life practice

Post by Soma999 »

There are many things to consider. First, doing a retreat for so long : how can you organise this etc and also if this is opportune for your mentality (why did you get birth in america for exemple, and not india... there may be a reason)

But also, in daily life there is integration and a lot of possibility to grow. "You never stink alone", so it's good to meet people, they can be like a mirror.

Read "after the extasee the laundry" it will certainly help you to see things in a wider perspective. In the retreat, people touch the sky... but integrating all this on this earth after the retreat, that's another story... and that's part of the work also !

In daily life, you connect to the sky, and you integrate in your daily life. So it can in fact be an help.

There are other possibility, like for exemple daily practice, and few times in the year a little time of retreat, 1 week for exemple, and then go back to daily practice. It can works wonders.

A time of retreat means nothing per se. It really depends upon what you do and the guidance you get. If this is fully adapted to you, and structured upon your objectives, what the guru see, and what experiences come, that could be wonderful. If it's just a rigid calendar with fixed practice... well, not my things but maybe cool for others.
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Re: 3 year retreat vs Daily life practice

Post by tranides »

one can abandon all the regular life as long as that retreat is something one cannot live without anymore. when im watching myself how did i came to the point when retreat became my goal, from the person who drunk and partied a lot, to whom ritch sexual life without paying attention to others feelings was perfect way of living - it was an amazing jurney and worth getting to today.
for expensivity part - u can start saving money for it from today, there are sponsors who can help u doing it, there are grants that can be given to support your own practice, there are crowdfundings, friends, families - plenty of ways to gather resources. as long as your motivation is pure and strong miracles can happen.
and when u have funds, all u have to do is to go there:). can someone complete yidam outside of retreat? i doubt- unless one have amazing mind qualities, lots of merit and free time. Doing ngondro everyday i have realized its the only option for me. but everyone has his own path truly.
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Re: 3 year retreat vs Daily life practice

Post by pemachophel »

FYI, a third option has been emerging here in the U.S.-- don't know about other places -- of doing three-year retreat in your own home. Gochen Tulku Sang-ngag in Santa Fe, NM has allowed a couple/several of His Students to do this. At least one has been made a Lama at the end of three years. She is married and a mother. So she was allowed a certain amount of family time. I also have done 5+ years in home retreat, practicing 12 hours per day. I am married and spend 2-3 hours each day with my wife (who is also a practitioner). To make this work, I do have to get up at 3 AM each day. IME, long retreat is really, really beneficial for developing samadhi when doing the Three Roots, etc. For me, there's no comparison between practicing in boundaried retreat and practicing (even pretty intensively] outside of boundaried retreat.

Lama Dawa Chodrak's American students also, I believe, complete the Three Roots in a series of home and away-from-home retreats interspersed with less intense periods of practice due to family and work. I know two of them have completed all Three Roots and several have completed at least one of the Three Roots.

"Where there's a will, there's a way."

Good luck & best wishes.
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Re: 3 year retreat vs Daily life practice

Post by heart »

I just wanted to add that nothing is really possible without a master. Finding one is much more important then completing all the elaborate practices that exist in Tibetan Buddhism.

/magnus
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Re: 3 year retreat vs Daily life practice

Post by byamspa »

Miroku wrote:Hi,

I would like to ask you what you think is better nowadays and is faster in developing one's practice, practice integrated into daily life or three years retreat?

There are several 3 year retreat places around the world now and I always wonder how to make it possible for me to attend one. But then again one has many duties that he cannot abandon and these retreats tend to be quite expensive.

What is in your experience or opinion better? And is it even possible to complete yidam practices in daily life? Is it even possible to engage in such long period retreats for modern human without being super rich?
Well, i completed one yidam accumulation by doing about 1/2 of it in bits and dribbles at home, then going away for a long weekend retreat to finish the rest of it in some rather intense sessions. The intense sessions were definitely worth the effort, and it took me about 3 days to finish it up.
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Re: 3 year retreat vs Daily life practice

Post by Thomas Amundsen »

I've also heard suggestions of another option of doing shorter 6-month retreats whenever one can, perhaps a few throughout the course of their life, perhaps in between jobs. I'm still trying to figure this out for myself, it's one of my main practice questions I am trying to resolve. I still haven't managed to get the time to do even a 6-month retreat.
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Re: 3 year retreat vs Daily life practice

Post by pemachophel »

For sure Magnus is correct. The first thing is to find your Guru. When you feel confident you have found the person to guide you on the Path, then offer yourself body, speech, and mind. Then you do what He or She says. They may tell you to do three-year retreat or They may not. Thanks Magnus for interjecting this hugely important point. The students of Gochen Tulku Sang-ngag and Lama Dawa I mentioned had all developed a firm Guru-disciple relationship with Their Teachers Who then guided them step-by-step in their retreats.
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Re: 3 year retreat vs Daily life practice

Post by conebeckham »

I think you can practice pretty intensively in daily life, if you have the free time and the will. I belong to a group of practitioners who have completed a variety of practices done in 3 year retreat--and I think there are some advantages to our system, and of course some disadvantages as well. I should note that we have traditionally done strict group retreats, over the years, as well, for Drupchos, Drupchens, Jinseks, etc. I also think that Completion Stage practices, for the most part, require some pretty strict and intensive retreat, at least when one is first approaching these methods.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
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"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")
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Re: 3 year retreat vs Daily life practice

Post by TaTa »

pemachophel wrote:FYI, a third option has been emerging here in the U.S.-- don't know about other places -- of doing three-year retreat in your own home. Gochen Tulku Sang-ngag in Santa Fe, NM has allowed a couple/several of His Students to do this. At least one has been made a Lama at the end of three years. She is married and a mother. So she was allowed a certain amount of family time. I also have done 5+ years in home retreat, practicing 12 hours per day. I am married and spend 2-3 hours each day with my wife (who is also a practitioner). To make this work, I do have to get up at 3 AM each day. IME, long retreat is really, really beneficial for developing samadhi when doing the Three Roots, etc. For me, there's no comparison between practicing in boundaried retreat and practicing (even pretty intensively] outside of boundaried retreat.

Lama Dawa Chodrak's American students also, I believe, complete the Three Roots in a series of home and away-from-home retreats interspersed with less intense periods of practice due to family and work. I know two of them have completed all Three Roots and several have completed at least one of the Three Roots.

"Where there's a will, there's a way."

Good luck & best wishes.
This is inspiring thank you
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Re: 3 year retreat vs Daily life practice

Post by Karinos »

The best is to talk to your Guru, some people may not suit to long retreats and they will benefit better if they do daily life and some practice. Other people are born to do retreats, even without knowing Dharma they go on solitary trips to forests or mountains.
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Re: 3 year retreat vs Daily life practice

Post by conebeckham »

Good advice, regarding talking with your teacher.

One other thing: Most people who have done three year retreat will tell you that it is largely a "learning retreat." Yes, practice gets done, and yes, you will likely have some experience by the end....but depending on curriculum, people often say that the pace moving from one practice to the next allowed them to get only a taste of some practices and methods. Kongtrul even says this in his retreat manual, and this is why people often commit to longer retreats after doing a group three year retreat. However, if you really want to learn and be exposed to the entire corpus of methods of a given lineage, three year retreat is a wonderful thing. It's also not easy, for many. But for some it may be the only way to avoid distractions, too.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")
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Re: 3 year retreat vs Daily life practice

Post by Könchok Thrinley »

Thank you all for your suggestions. :) I honestly was just curious abotu your suggestions and experiences and certainly quite a number of them appeared. It is quite fascinating to hear about doing the retreat from your home. I haven't heard about that. I have just heard about Dzongsar Rinpoche's program where one is doing practice 2 hours everyday for 12 years in order to complete the retreat.
conebeckham wrote:Good advice, regarding talking with your teacher.

One other thing: Most people who have done three year retreat will tell you that it is largely a "learning retreat." Yes, practice gets done, and yes, you will likely have some experience by the end....but depending on curriculum, people often say that the pace moving from one practice to the next allowed them to get only a taste of some practices and methods. Kongtrul even says this in his retreat manual, and this is why people often commit to longer retreats after doing a group three year retreat. However, if you really want to learn and be exposed to the entire corpus of methods of a given lineage, three year retreat is a wonderful thing. It's also not easy, for many. But for some it may be the only way to avoid distractions, too.
This is quite interesting conebeckham! I have never heard about this. I always thought that 3 year retreat is more about accomplishing practices. So it is more about making deep foundation for the practitioner?

The advice about asking ones lama is probably the best as some people probably would not benefit from the retreat enviroment as much and could hurt them.

Is there anyone who did 3 year retreat and can share his opinion and advice on how helpful it was for him/her?
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Formerly known as Miroku.
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Re: 3 year retreat vs Daily life practice

Post by pemachophel »

"So it is more about making deep foundation for the practitioner?"

IMO, yes. It's about creating a firm foundation so that you can practice effectively the entire rest of your life. If you think you could Realize if only you could do a three-year retreat, that probably isn't going to happen. It could, but it's not likely or typical.

I should also mention that, in Asia, doing a three-year retreat and even doing a three-year retreat under a particular Master or at a particular retreat center is also often seen as a stepping stone in one's professional development. ("Professional" here meaning professional religious.) IOW, it's a career path.
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Re: 3 year retreat vs Daily life practice

Post by conebeckham »

pemachophel wrote:"So it is more about making deep foundation for the practitioner?"

IMO, yes. It's about creating a firm foundation so that you can practice effectively the entire rest of your life. If you think you could Realize if only you could do a three-year retreat, that probably isn't going to happen. It could, but it's not likely or typical.

I should also mention that, in Asia, doing a three-year retreat and even doing a three-year retreat under a particular Master or at a particular retreat center is also often seen as a stepping stone in one's professional development. ("Professional" here meaning professional religious.) IOW, it's a career path.
Indeed, 100% agreed.

The whole idea behind "3 years/3 months/3days" comes from Kalacakra Tantra, regarding breath and time, incidentally, and this is why Kongtrul used this time-frame. Now, if you were a monk and were going into "drupdra" (Retreat) you would have memorized much of the sadhana and liturgical material already, and of course you would be familiar with Tibetan language. Most retreats, even in the West, still use Tibetan language, though there are some that don't. So, for Tibetans, it was less about "learning the practices" though honestly Tibetan monks did not often get complete instructions until they were engaged in a practice. Still, if one compares the program of a three year retreat at Tsadra Rinchen Drak, for instance, as outined in Kongtrul's manual, even many of the current retreats in Tibet and India are not as demanding. In the West, there are a variety of programs, but no one does all the practices that Kongtrul outlined.

The reality, for many Westerners, is that they are still learning Tibetan, and also coping with ritual practices and crafts, as well as with vows and vinaya, with which they have had no prior experience. For those retreats where Tibetan-only texts are not used, there are still a host of things that need to be learned in order to successfully complete a Drupcho, for instance.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")
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Re: 3 year retreat vs Daily life practice

Post by TaTa »

conebeckham wrote:
pemachophel wrote:"So it is more about making deep foundation for the practitioner?"

IMO, yes. It's about creating a firm foundation so that you can practice effectively the entire rest of your life. If you think you could Realize if only you could do a three-year retreat, that probably isn't going to happen. It could, but it's not likely or typical.

I should also mention that, in Asia, doing a three-year retreat and even doing a three-year retreat under a particular Master or at a particular retreat center is also often seen as a stepping stone in one's professional development. ("Professional" here meaning professional religious.) IOW, it's a career path.
Indeed, 100% agreed.

The whole idea behind "3 years/3 months/3days" comes from Kalacakra Tantra, regarding breath and time, incidentally, and this is why Kongtrul used this time-frame. Now, if you were a monk and were going into "drupdra" (Retreat) you would have memorized much of the sadhana and liturgical material already, and of course you would be familiar with Tibetan language. Most retreats, even in the West, still use Tibetan language, though there are some that don't. So, for Tibetans, it was less about "learning the practices" though honestly Tibetan monks did not often get complete instructions until they were engaged in a practice. Still, if one compares the program of a three year retreat at Tsadra Rinchen Drak, for instance, as outined in Kongtrul's manual, even many of the current retreats in Tibet and India are not as demanding. In the West, there are a variety of programs, but no one does all the practices that Kongtrul outlined.

The reality, for many Westerners, is that they are still learning Tibetan, and also coping with ritual practices and crafts, as well as with vows and vinaya, with which they have had no prior experience. For those retreats where Tibetan-only texts are not used, there are still a host of things that need to be learned in order to successfully complete a Drupcho, for instance.
I remember that tenzin palmo said that she went through the 3 year program in her longer retreat but in terms of yidam practice instead of going through lots if yidam she did one. Do you know if this kind of progrm is held somewhere?
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Re: 3 year retreat vs Daily life practice

Post by conebeckham »

TaTa wrote:
conebeckham wrote:
pemachophel wrote:"So it is more about making deep foundation for the practitioner?"

IMO, yes. It's about creating a firm foundation so that you can practice effectively the entire rest of your life. If you think you could Realize if only you could do a three-year retreat, that probably isn't going to happen. It could, but it's not likely or typical.

I should also mention that, in Asia, doing a three-year retreat and even doing a three-year retreat under a particular Master or at a particular retreat center is also often seen as a stepping stone in one's professional development. ("Professional" here meaning professional religious.) IOW, it's a career path.
Indeed, 100% agreed.

The whole idea behind "3 years/3 months/3days" comes from Kalacakra Tantra, regarding breath and time, incidentally, and this is why Kongtrul used this time-frame. Now, if you were a monk and were going into "drupdra" (Retreat) you would have memorized much of the sadhana and liturgical material already, and of course you would be familiar with Tibetan language. Most retreats, even in the West, still use Tibetan language, though there are some that don't. So, for Tibetans, it was less about "learning the practices" though honestly Tibetan monks did not often get complete instructions until they were engaged in a practice. Still, if one compares the program of a three year retreat at Tsadra Rinchen Drak, for instance, as outined in Kongtrul's manual, even many of the current retreats in Tibet and India are not as demanding. In the West, there are a variety of programs, but no one does all the practices that Kongtrul outlined.

The reality, for many Westerners, is that they are still learning Tibetan, and also coping with ritual practices and crafts, as well as with vows and vinaya, with which they have had no prior experience. For those retreats where Tibetan-only texts are not used, there are still a host of things that need to be learned in order to successfully complete a Drupcho, for instance.
I remember that tenzin palmo said that she went through the 3 year program in her longer retreat but in terms of yidam practice instead of going through lots if yidam she did one. Do you know if this kind of progrm is held somewhere?
Gelukpas often spend 3 years on one HYT system, actually. I can't say I know of such programs, but I'd bet they exist.

In general, Sakyapas maintain Naro Khachoma and Hevajra on a daily basis if they have such commitments, and they also do closed retreats. Lam Dre approach works like that. They may also do retreats on Vajrapani, or forms of Mahakala, and also in Guru Yogas and other deities.

Nyingmapas practice their Ngondros, sadhanas of the three roots, and the two stages of Dzogchen completion stage practices, depending on lineage affiliation. I'm mainly familiar with Dudjom retreat centers, where Dudjom Tersar is stressed--Dudjom Ngondro, Tsokyi Thuktig, Pudri Regpung, Etc.

Kagyupas practice ngondro, various guru yogas, a few yidams (fewer, generally in the Western retreats than in India and Tibet these days), and the Six Yogas/Mahamudra approaches, as well as Mahakalas. As I am most familiar with the various Kagyu retreats, I can tell you that KTD's program focuses on the three main Kamtsang yidams, along with a variety of Guru Yogas and the Mahamudra/Six Yogas path. Kalu Rinpoche's western retreat centers focus on the Shangpa practices with some Kamtsang and practices from other traditions as well. Thrangu Rinpoche has instituted a 6 month on/6 month off retreat curriculum in Colorado, I believe, related to Dharmadhatu folks, where practice is done in English, and they complete PhagDeGyalSum, as well as Mahakala Bernakchen, and I think Six Yogas too, along with some other practices related to Dharmadhatu's tradition.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")
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Re: 3 year retreat vs Daily life practice

Post by Kelwin »

Just want to add that indeed most people who did 3 year retreat that I spoke to, consider it to be more like a school than a retreat. You spend all the time going through many different practices at a very high pace. Ironically, it's very stressful for many of them. Not relaxing at all.

The system only exists because Kongtrul thought it was a good idea to have a foundation for teachers who have to transmit these methods. It was never intended as the quickest way to enlightenment. Not even close.

If you want to practice to liberate yourself, don't do 3 year retreat. Do retreat, but don't take this particular structure.

Oh, and first do retreat for a month or so, and see how much you really like it. Until you did that, and longer, it's all just a fantasy anyway.
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Re: 3 year retreat vs Daily life practice

Post by Crazywisdom »

3 yrs is a big commitment. Might take this me to be sure you found a lineage you really believe in and give some time in case you get older and change your mind.
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