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Wisdom Spotlight - Issue #11 - How to Plan Your Personal Retreat Part Two

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Wisdom Spotlight

December 16 · Issue #11 · View online

A monthly spotlight on Dharma education and practice resources from Samye Institute.


Dear Student,
In “How to Plan Your Personal Retreat, Part 2,” Drupla Sonam Tsering continues his discussion of advice on how to conduct a successful personal retreat. He begins by referring to the previously mentioned traditional advice to bring sufficient food and medicine, as well as a means of self-defense.
Traditionally, it is said to be vital to have in the retreat representations of body, speech, and mind, that is, a consecrated statue, a volume of scripture, and a small stupa, which each establish auspicious connections to the Buddha. These are the most basic elements of a retreat. There are strict or relaxed retreats, which we can describe as best, medium, and least. A strict retreat would be only contact with your root guru, a retreat master, personal assistants, and possibly a physician. We ensure the retreat’s protection through establishing retreat boundaries outwardly and inwardly, so Drupla Sonam discusses the different kinds of protection circles.
He also discusses the nine different shamatha meditation practice stages so as not to be distracted by ordinary thoughts. Noticing distraction is actually very good, as it means you’re recognizing how your mind is acting. Investigate for yourself, check your mind and what you’re experiencing. Prostrations are directly reducing the ego, for instance, so be aware of that.
Developing your practice means developing your mind and its stability, Drupla reminds us. Essentially, in retreat you can hone in on your meditation, a process of closing in on your object of meditation. He discusses how to maintain retreat enthusiasm through the pacification of suffering, freeing ourselves from suffering and all obscurations or afflictive emotions.
Drupla discusses retreat obstacles and how to overcome them as well as some aspects of retreat meditation in a Dzogchen context. A retreat is usually concluded with a fire puja or, if that isn’t possible, with recitation of the One Hundred Syllable mantra. Finally, Drupla offers some encouraging words about how to deal with the pandemic.
To view the video recordings, click here to the past event page to view the first and second parts of this teaching.
Links to Translations
Wisdom Spotlight
If you are inspired to explore this topic further, you can find the first part of How You Plan Your Personal Retreat as well as two relevant wisdom blog posts below:
Senior Lama Teaching Series: How to Plan Your Personal Retreat
Reducing Negative Emotions: The Power of Meditation
Care-taking rLüng During Long Practice Hours
Latest Wisdom Blogs
Samye Institute posts regular wisdom blogs, covering various aspects of Buddhist practice, ritual and education. Here’s what we posted in the last month.
Princess Mandarava’s Prayer to Guru Rinpoche
Announcing a New Addition to the ‘Advice for Dying Practitioners' Curriculum
Educational Resources on Samye Institute
For those of you who want to learn in more detail, we have the following courses available on our platform. Each course is presented in a structured way and also has access to forums and instructor support.
About Samye Institute
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All of these articles include key points and many offer reflection exercises or contemplations. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to or watch these teachings before, we hope that you will take the time to explore them.
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