Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Friday, September 20, 2013
Monday, February 13, 2012
I am going to jump forward here a bit….you see…I had this idea of how some books jump from one time frame to the next and everything makes sense in the end. Past, future and present get their own time in relation to another moment in time all at the same time. The reason I say this is because I want to tell this story without the limitations of time. I am thinking that all of this will last until the end of the retreat. Sometime in 2015. But this might go on longer…who knows…not the retreat but this journey….this project. The basic idea was to document the duration of the retreat and everything that is happening and will happen. I'm still trying to figure that one.
What is happening?
Well, I took the first trip to the retreat center which is actually a monastery in upstate New York….Wappingers Falls to be exact.
Kagyu Thubten Choling monastery and retreat center was founded in 1978 by Lama Norlha Rinpoche.
It had snowed the night before. Everything was covered in white and fog made the scenery look even colder. What I mean by scenery is what I saw from the seat of the train. The ride takes one from Manhattan to New Hamburg station along the Hudson river. The roughly 90 minute trip it's quite scenic and beautiful. Similar to India in the sense that each town one passes looks just like the next and so on but at the same time they all have their distinct charm. I will talk about the similarity of places and situations in the future.
What happened at the train station seems to be a replay of what I experienced back in India. Remember I mentioned how I arrived a few days late? not because I missed a flight but because the program started earlier without me knowing. Well in the case of the train that I was supposed to be taking to the monastery…..I missed it. That was my fault. My watch was slightly behind. I missed the train by one minute. It was with a heavy feeling in my gut that I saw the back of the train slowly leaving the station. What I'm gathering here or I should say the pattern I see happening here is one of near miss opportunities. I have not missed anything yet! but I feel this is a fair warning that if I'm not careful I will indeed miss something. So I am on my toes!
The retreat has been closed for nearly 3 months now. I was told they are in the middle of doing prostrations. "They are getting strong" tells me a nun who did her three year retreat in the late eighties here in KTC. I will be introducing her later.
Prostrations are part of a larger practice called ngondro. The ngondro practice sets the ground and its said to make the practitioner "ripe" for practices that lie ahead on the path.
They will have to perform 111,111 full body prostrations to complete that part of the ngondro and move on to the next practice. I often think of the 3 year retreat as the equivalent to a spiritual bootcamp.
Inside the gates of these retreat houses are men and women who have decided to undergo this training for the benefit of others.