Retreat

Meeting the Buddha – Dedicated to Rosemary on her Going Forth

Samanartha writes: This article is based on a talk I gave to celebrate Rosemary’s leaving for her Ordination retreat. In it I’ve tried to evoke, if somewhat briefly, some of the myth and hence the importance of what she has embarked on.  Firstly, what do we mean by ‘the mythic’ or ‘myth’? In a Buddhist context we don’t use the term ‘myth’ in the sense of something not being true. Instead, the mythic is something like a deeply held belief, story, or organising principle that creates a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives. These myths are not ones in which we are observers but are something that we participate in and actively live out. For example, I’m a great uncle and when visiting my family recently I could see that living out the myth of the family is very important to them. It carries a strong sense of purpose and even of meaning for the people involved and is something that is obviously lived out. This, of course, is fully supported by society and is a very strong myth indeed. For some people, however, to only live out these common myths – such as those of the career or the family – seems lacking and unsatisfying in some way. And this propels some people to begin a search, a quest for something else, something that may include the myths of the career and family but is ultimately a vastly bigger myth. It is this quest for greater meaning that explains why many people arrive on the shores of Leeds Buddhist Centre. “In a way the Buddhist path... Read more

Opening up to the Light…

Jenny Roberts writes: Along with Samanartha, Khemasara, and Penny, I’ve just returned from an intensive meditation retreat at Vajraloka, led by Tejananda. Those who know the venue and the teacher won’t be surprised at the revelation that this was a very intensive eleven days. The theme was ‘simply being’. And the practice which was explored as the days went on was simply to be present with whatever was happening – be it thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations or perceptions (like hearing and seeing). As in any meditation retreat there was a good deal of formal sitting in the shrine room but, this time, the practice extended to just about every waking minute. As Tejananda remarked at the beginning of the eight days of silence, ‘There is no time off on this retreat!’ And indeed there wasn’t. We were encouraged to stay present at all times: while out walking, while sitting in the garden, while washing up, while doing work duty, while eating, getting ready for bed or getting up in the morning… And throughout each day the whole area seemed full of retreatants walking meditatively through the forest, gazing at the beautiful views or just sitting in the garden seemingly staring out into space. Tejananda made the point that we are not our thoughts, even though our thoughts encourage us to think that we are. So the practice, for me at least, was very much about opening up to my experience, and especially listening to what went on in my head. So for eight days I tuned into my feelings, perceptions and thoughts, trying not to get caught up in... Read more