Author Topic: 3 Year Retreats  (Read 3923 times)

Tobin

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3 Year Retreats
« on: May 06, 2014, 08:45:20 PM »
Hello again everyone! :)

I'm going to be taking a 10 day retreat here in the near future, and then hopefully and 3 month retreat possibly in Thailand following that down the road. If all goes well, I would like to venture into a full 3 year retreat in Tibet. (I am studying Tibetan to prepare)

The only one I've currently found online is the Karme Ling retreat center (https://www.kagyu.org/ktd/monastery/karmeling/retreat.php). A forum search didn't bring up anything but "Karme Choling" which one of the members apparently spent a terrible 3 months (due to bureaucracy) at.

I was curious if anyone on here is aware of other 3 year retreats, or has attended one in their lives and could share some insight on what to expect, how to prepare, etc. Links to the retreats would also be appreciated. (Ones in Japan are +++)

Thank you!
Regards,
Tobin

Matthew

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Re: 3 Year Retreats
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2014, 11:22:15 PM »
Diamond Mountain and Gampo Abbey both do three year retreats in north America. The three year retreat in the Tibetan tradition is usually the final stage before a monk who has been learning the extensive Vajrayana teachings (usually since childhood as they are so extensive) can go on to teach.

There are also three year retreat opportunities in France.

Before you do a retreat of this duration you would normally be expected to have a connection with the Rinpoche in charge and already have studied and completed the Ngondro and perhaps have taken some other empowerments. You really are placing your life in the hand of the master.

I think you need to make a connection with a teacher who leads such retreats and get to know them quite closely prior to making such a commitment.

You may find, especially following the months in Thailand, that joining a Thai monastery for three years would be simpler and perhaps even more profitable to your practice, but if you are determined to do this within a Tibetan tradition get to know the master first would be my strongest advice. There have been many controversies.

Kindly,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Tobin

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Re: 3 Year Retreats
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2014, 11:34:41 PM »
Thank you Matthew, this gives me a lot to look into.

I am not set on Tibet. I was only unable to find anything else and concluded (naively) that Tibet may be the only place that has full 3 year retreats.

You mention that I should get to know the Rinpoche of the monastery. Is this done through shorter retreats beforehand or is there some other opportunities that I'm not aware of. How close can you really get to a Rinpoche. I would assume they have busy schedules. But there I go assuming again. :)

Edit: Thank you, thank you, thank you. I think you just changed my entire life. Gampo Abbey is my new home. And to think Pema is there, could this get any better? You have no idea how grateful I am. Have a fantastic day!!!
« Last Edit: May 07, 2014, 12:17:35 AM by Tobin »
Regards,
Tobin

Matthew

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Re: 3 Year Retreats
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2014, 01:48:45 AM »
When you say Gampo Abbey is your new home do you mean you are living there? Have you ever been there? Have you ever encountered the Shambhala Sangha "up closer and personal"? I'm not too sure how involved she is, if at all, with the three year - I understood she may have semi-retired and has not so much to do with running the monastery, more practicing, writing, personal retreat and some travel on behalf of the Sakyong - you want to check this stuff out.

Also I lived and worked in a Shambhala centre for 18 months and it wasn't all good tbh ...but everything changes so check things out for yourself with open eyes and an open mind :)

You can get very close to a Rinpoche. Close enough to see how they operate. You can sometimes work as part if their retinue, especially if your Tibetan language skills are good. A friend of mine did this and it was a sobering experience ... things were not all ok. Now this was actually with my root teacher and that things were not all ok was a real shock to me ... not something I wanted to accept lightly, but then I had only done three retreats with that teacher and my friend who is a clear minded person spent a year with her and I don't distrust her experience.

Tbh the world of Tibetan Buddhism is, in my experience, a little messed up. Many of the long term students also seem a little messed up.

You can do a three year commitment in a retreat style under almost any teacher if you get to know them then join the Sangha as a monk with your intentions clearly understood in advance .... The reason it is prominent in the Tibetan tradition is, as I said above, principally the complexity of the Vajrayana teachings ... personal experience of Vajrayana students/practitioners is mixed but many are pretty messed up people - I don't consider these teachings relevant or suitable for most westerners based on what I've seen.

Best,

Matthew
« Last Edit: May 07, 2014, 02:02:27 AM by Matthew »
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Tobin

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Re: 3 Year Retreats
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2014, 10:13:20 PM »
Hello again Matthew. :)

It was a real eye opening day for me is all I meant. Something about Gampo Abbey just clicked with me the moment you mentioned it, even before I viewed the website. I've struggled with an almost decade long depression and for some reason, this gave me incredibly strong purpose again. That is why I was so appreciative.

No, I've never been there, but hope very much too around September of next year. I didn't see anything about 3 year retreats, but there seems to be the option of staying for a year and choosing to remain as a monastic if that's what you feel is right for you.

I've been looking into the Shambhala tradition, and while I've noticed there is a lot of supernatural belief, the concepts seem very simple and pure to me. It seems to be based around creating an enlightened society.

Could you maybe clarify some of the reasons you find experienced Shambhala practitioners to be 'messed up'? I'd like to think that I come to my own conclusions on this path, but I don't want to wind up walking into some brainwashing if I can help it.

Thanks again!
Regards,
Tobin

Matthew

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Re: 3 Year Retreats
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2014, 04:09:57 PM »
Hello Tobin,

You're right not to wish to be brainwashed (by anyone) ...  Even the Buddha taught, "do not believe anything, no matter where you heard or read it - even if you heard it from me, unless it agrees with your own common sense and reason". I think this is a very important teaching - it's why I wrote, "... check things out for yourself with open eyes and an open mind" - my opinion is just as likely to be mistaken as anyone else's :D

The three year retreat centre at Gampo Abbey is called Söpa Chöling, has its own website. The Program is not completed in one three year block but in stages. You need to have a number of Shambhala programme under your belt before you would be granted entry. It is a Vajrayana training in the Tibetan tradition so you would certainly need to familiarise yourself with what this means before even contemplating going down that route.

Tibetan Vajrayana (actually Tibetan Buddhism in general) is a mixture of Buddhist, tantric Hindu and Bön teachings. This includes deity worship and practices and quite a few other things that personally I place in the category of "religious cultural baggage" or agglomerations/accumulations to the teachings of the Buddha. It is also a path where you give your self entirely into the hands of the teacher/master.

Two of the most famous Tibetan masters to come to the west have found themselves amidst great controversy, Sogyal Rinpoche and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (founder of Shambhala). Both had great influence and helped spread the Dharma ... both gained reputations for sleeping with their students and Trungpa died early of sclerosis of the liver due to alcoholism. He handed the Sangha to his Dharma Heir who, infected with HIV, thought his "high spiritual attainments" meant he could not transmit the disease to others, so he followed in his master's footsteps, slept with a bunch of students and consequently transmitted the disease to them resulting in illness and early death.

These truths get to the bottom of an issue with the master-centric forms of Buddhism in general and also Vajrayana: the ego often seems to blossom and enlarge, not wither and die, despite seemingly gaining high levels of wisdom on the way. This was something I saw for myself in the eighteen months I spent in a Shambhala centre: lots of "old", I.e. long-term, students with lots of "issues". The most common was alcoholism and, it seemed, encourage by Trungpa's example and by his teachings on "mindful drinking".

But, as I said before, everything changes - and it was certainly not all bad. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche (Trungpa's son and Shambhala's current leader) took action against one of the senior Acharyas, instructing him to stop sleeping with students, showing a level of wisdom and trustworthiness.

I met very many wonderful, generous, spirited and kind people from the Shambhala Sangha in my time there, and though I officially "disengaged" from the Sangha in 2008/9 I'm still in contact with some good people there.

The base concepts are simple and wise: enlightened society and "basic goodness", a term I suspect Trungpa coined in direct opposition to the Christian concept of original sin. But IMHO it's a bit of a "rabbit hole" and especially if you get into the tantric/Vajrayana side.

I hope I have answered your questions in a way that is educational.

Kindly,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Dharmic Tui

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Re: 3 Year Retreats
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2014, 06:57:06 PM »
My limited dealings with Tibetan Buddhism weren't quite so insidious but the amount of Jedi like supernatural claims put me off.

Tobin

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Re: 3 Year Retreats
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2014, 09:30:36 PM »
Thanks again Matthew,

I had no idea Trungpa Rinpoche and his successor were involved with such dealings. I was under the impression one of the 5 precepts was to not partake in intoxicants, so his mindful drinking confuses me a little. No worries though, you've alleviated my fears. I would love to teach, but I don't feel that I need to partake in a ceremonious 3-year retreat to do so. I would prefer to just spend 3 or more years in retreat as a resident to simplify my life and connect with myself and Dharma. (and hopefully spread it to others eventually)

You were right about Pema, she does do some teaching, but she spends a lot of her time in committed solitary retreat or traveling. Even so, she was initially the first person who got me interested in Buddhism through her audio talks and I can only imagine that if she is part of the organization, then there is some wise compassionate goodness within it.

I will just make sure that I stay true to myself and the path that I am seeking.

Much Metta!
Regards,
Tobin

Tobin

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Re: 3 Year Retreats
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2014, 09:37:32 PM »
My limited dealings with Tibetan Buddhism weren't quite so insidious but the amount of Jedi like supernatural claims put me off.

The only "supernatural" (albeit Buddhist) belief that I've noticed so far is Mipham Rinpoches apparent incarnation. This is probably just my lack of experience with past life phenomenon, but the conditioned western skeptic in me pulls away from things like this. The ironic thing is that I highly believe in reincarnation, just not peoples claims of it. :P

I'm sure he is who he says he is, I'm just not completely sure. Make sense? Haha
Regards,
Tobin

Matthew

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    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
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Re: 3 Year Retreats
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2014, 10:14:12 PM »
It's not him who says, another Rinpoche recognises the reincarnation from members of the twenty one feudal families who ran and owned Tibet before the Chinese invaded. Politics, business and religion were all tightly intertwined in the hands of these families.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Dharmic Tui

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Re: 3 Year Retreats
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2014, 12:05:33 PM »

The only "supernatural" (albeit Buddhist) belief that I've noticed so far is Mipham Rinpoches apparent incarnation. This is probably just my lack of experience with past life phenomenon, but the uconditioned western skeptic in me pulls away from things like this. The ironic thing is that I highly believe in reincarnation, just not peoples claims of it. :P

I'm sure he is who he says he is, I'm just not completely sure. Make sense? Haha
The monks I've sat with made claims of running really fast, flying, that sort of thing.

J0rrit

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Re: 3 Year Retreats
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2014, 09:33:39 PM »

The only "supernatural" (albeit Buddhist) belief that I've noticed so far is Mipham Rinpoches apparent incarnation. This is probably just my lack of experience with past life phenomenon, but the uconditioned western skeptic in me pulls away from things like this. The ironic thing is that I highly believe in reincarnation, just not peoples claims of it. :P

I'm sure he is who he says he is, I'm just not completely sure. Make sense? Haha
The monks I've sat with made claims of running really fast, flying, that sort of thing.

Why didn't they show it than ? What about that ego-talk, didn't expect that with monks....

Tobin

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Re: 3 Year Retreats
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2014, 11:03:28 PM »

The only "supernatural" (albeit Buddhist) belief that I've noticed so far is Mipham Rinpoches apparent incarnation. This is probably just my lack of experience with past life phenomenon, but the uconditioned western skeptic in me pulls away from things like this. The ironic thing is that I highly believe in reincarnation, just not peoples claims of it. :P

I'm sure he is who he says he is, I'm just not completely sure. Make sense? Haha
The monks I've sat with made claims of running really fast, flying, that sort of thing.

Why didn't they show it than ? What about that ego-talk, didn't expect that with monks....
From what I've been told, they can only be done without the ego. Showing it to someone else would involve including the ego and is paradoxical. This is my understanding anyways. Who knows!
Regards,
Tobin

sariputra

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Re: 3 Year Retreats
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2014, 02:48:13 PM »
  I found out one meditation group I go to is associated with the Shambhala tradition, didn't know Mathew knew so much about them, interesting to say the least......
  Went to a 2 day meditation retreat this weekend with my other group which involved a certain Buddhist nun "Shih Mom" , anyone know her? She's from Tiawon, advocated a vipassana meditation putting attention on abdominal movements rather than at nose which was a little different.

 

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