Wednesday, September 16, 2009


So in a way a retreat experience is inexpressible to people outside the spiritual community. Of course I talked a lot on retreat to my spiritual friends. I suppose what I'm doing is to try and think about he retreat now, as a kind of way to keep it alive. Of course I write in my journal and to friends.

In fact, spiritual friendship is one of the keys to retreat experience. I get into a kind of tender and soft place, and that makes me more open and receptive. That's what the retreat was about--receptivity. We focused on the acceptance verse in the public ordination, "with loyalty to my teachers." One aid in that is the Cetokhila Sutta. This translation is a little different, in ours it talked about "ardor", which is a lovely word. I'm not going to go into the sutta, except to say that I have to kind of map it out on a sheet of paper to make sense of it. Because it's from an oral tradition it has all these mnemonic devices to help the monks memorize it, and that makes it actually hard to me to hear it. My mind wants a kind of outline or a story. The other thing I would say is that I uncovered personal reasons why, in my mind, there is subtle doubt about companions in the spiritual life, and I worked hard to understand the barriers I put up. My isolation is becoming less and less tenable.

How do I become more soft, tender. Lots of meditation. I have to say, compared to most of my brothers, I'm too wiggly of a meditator. I'm not so flexible, and I quickly scratch myself, put my legs up to make them comfortable. Compared to my rock like peers. But this retreat I was trying to appreciate and explore my body, with the influence of old Reggie Ray and his last book on somatic meditation, and Paramananda's book The Body. So, when my knees began to hurt, I investigated, tried to bring a sense of play instead of feeling trapped. I get twisty knee pain when I sit in a modified half lotus, and straight on knee pain when I used my bench. There's a kind of princess and the pea situation where I pile up a bunch of mats to try and not feel hardness on my knees. I would modify my posture to put more pressure on my butt, but then I would be hunched. I was trying to keep my body aligned, the hips at the right angle, my head at the right angle, my arms just so, and my shoulders not hunched.

So the pain would lead to a panic attack, and the panic attack led to emotional pain. I cried a lot. Someone put a brownie on my pillow Wednesday. The cool thing was that I thought anyone on the retreat was capable of it. That kind of kindness kills me.

So in the company of men, we told our life stories, and met in small groups and heard talks, lots of discussion of the Dharma. I have to say, I love Dharma talk. We also went on walks with each other, I thoroughly enjoyed talking with everyone. I have to say it's a special group of men. The food was good. It was more nature than I'm used to in NYC, so I enjoyed looking at green, seeing trees sway in the wind, sitting outside.

Here's what google earth shows as the two domes:

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Looks pretty green around there. Here's where I live on Google earth:

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Not my real address by the way but my neighborhood. Anywho, to continue. We also listened to a good talk by Subhuti on just sitting meditation.

I also read David Smith's book, A Record of Awakening. Someone mentioned it, and I'd forgotten it, so since it's short, I read it again. I never got to read the letter as to why he decided not to try and join the order, and started his own sangha. It's funny, there are a lot of controversies going around the order, but out here you kind of miss them. Something to talk about I suppose.

So, that's all I want to say for now. I have to say, I'm not sure what my point about communicating this stuff is to the strangers, I question blogging. Am I some kind of exhibitionist? Am I really adding to the knowledge of the Dharma? I doubt it. I expect it's kind of like a public notebook record of my spiritual life, and that's not a horrible thing. I hope everyone is well.

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