Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Retreat Retreat

I'm not even sure how long it's been since I did this, but in two weeks I'm going on a weekend meditation retreat.  I think it may have been a couple of years, actually.  I do recall I went with some folks from the Unity Church in Grapevine, which is hell and gone from Cartagenia, in a manner of speaking. It rained most of the weekend and opportunities to meditate outside were pretty much nonexistent.  Plus my idiot neighbor (have I mentioned my idiot neighbor?  He's an idiot)  chose that weekend to chop down half of our live oak and demand payment for having done so, and I fielded a lot of frantic calls from Joan (understandably).  Since then, I've done quite a few half-day retreats and I think a couple of full days, but nothing beyond that.

Devout Buddhists, by which I mean rich Buddhists, go on retreats a lot, and they go on much longer ones; a week, two weeks, even a month or more.  Yes, it is technically possible to meditate ten hours a day for a month.  Real Buddhist monks do it for years, sometimes their whole lives.  But to go on retreats to meditate that much, you pretty much have to have money. Oh, no one's ever turned away from lack of funds, and all that, but even the Scholarship Rate can get pretty pricey.  Take this one at the Shambhala Mountain Center, for example.  Yeah, tuition's only $100 for an entire month, but lordy lordy, look at that room and boardy.  $2,315.00 for a shared room.  Same price for solitude in a tent.  A tent.  Scholarship rate, $1500.  Okay, it's true that rent and food and everything else you need to live in the world probably costs that much or more, and if you spent that much for a week on a cruise ship you'd just be getting started, but you don't have to come up with it all at once, do you?  Plus there's the getting there, and the incidentals, and the laundry, and the paying bills for the place you left behind (it's not like your landlord gives you a rent holiday or anything), and the sending postcards (I wonder if they let you send postcards).

Then there's the Retreats With Famous People, like this one.  I, personally, have never heard of His Eminence Jigme Lodro Rinpoche Khandro Nyingtik, nor do I have any idea what the Heart Essence of the Dakinis is, but given the advertisement, I certainly should know, and I'd darned well better find out before I show up.  Here's another one, and I've actually heard of Jack Kornfield.  He's the author of The Wise Heart, which I've been trying to get through for a couple of years now.  (It's full of lists.  Buddha apparently liked making lists.)  This one's nine days long, for a cost of between $1350 and $2110 depending on how comfortable you want to be. Kids, if I'm going to have my butt on a kapok-stuffed cushion for ten hours a day, I want to be as comfortable as possible.  And there better be a swimming pool, too.

No, when it comes to retreats I'm kind of low-rent.  I hang around with two different groups of Buddhists; the Maria Kannon group (all Zen, all the time) and the Dallas Meditation Center (Brother ChiSing's cult of personality and Tiep Hien - Order of Interbeing for those of you that don't speak Viet Namese, ie, practically everybody). Bet you didn't know Dallas had two gangs of Buddhists.  How's this: There are actually more than a dozen.  The DMC has a mini-retreat one Saturday morning every month, and I try never to miss one because by the time they roll around I'm usually in desperate need of some peace and quiet.  The MKZC has zazenkai (day-long meditation) about once a month, and while I've thought many times about going, I've never actually managed it. Zen meditation is formal to the point of being scary and after about an hour I need a chair.  What would they think if I dragged a chair in there?  Terror of exclusion from the group; it's all very Japanese.

Well, there's one on the 27th and I might go.  Maybe it would be a good warm-up. Until then, hoping for less rain and fewer altercations with my idiot neighbor.  I did mention he's an idiot?

1 comment:

Marcia Wall said...

LMAO: Devout Buddhists, by which I mean rich Buddhists.

Hope you are well! Miss ya!