three year retreat experiences?

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conebeckham
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Re: three year retreat experiences?

Post by conebeckham » Fri Dec 07, 2018 5:05 pm

Yagmort is correct. The idea of the 3 year retreat was propagated by Kongtrul and Khyentse. The reason for the duration is based on Kalacakra Tantra, where is it said this is the timeframe relates to the breath. See Kongtrul's retreat manual for more info if you're interested.

Not all monks do the 3 year retreat. And not all who do the retreat are monks, though until recently the vast majority would have been.

For those who grew up in monasteries, the retreat was the opportunity to learn and to practice what had largely been memorized. Monks would have memorized the basic sadhanas, and performed the basic rituals, but when they entered retreat they would learn the methods of approach,, etc., the "sevasadhana"etc. Most especially, the Completion Stage practices would be the focus of much of the retreat.

These days, the 3 year retreat is, for most, somewhat like a certification program, where one is exposed to the whole path, taught a variety of practices and one has the ability to experience some practice. Most graduates will tell you that it is just the beginning.
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Re: three year retreat experiences?

Post by JangchubLhamo927 » Thu Feb 21, 2019 4:52 pm

Initially the biggest obstacle was getting used to sleeping in a meditation box. After the first month, in exasperation, I tossed my cushion on the plywood floor and tried to sleep on the ground—but that was even worse. So I climbed back into the box—slowly, by about the 3rd or 4th month—I grew more accustomed to the “lighter” sleep of sitting up.

I would argue that the Himalayan Sangha isn’t any more prepared for the Drupkang than westerners. All Monasteries have about the same ratio of retreat graduates who remain at the Gompa—and those that leave.

While westerners may have more individual personality disagreements, the Himalayan Sangha has to work through ethnicity divisiveness. There are very few Tibetans in the Monasteries in Northern India—most monks and nuns are from various ethnic tribes. The the Sangha members often, unfortunately, divide themselves along these ethnic fissures.

Even with the chanting—if you move to a Monastery at least a year and a half before retreat, you can usually learn the daily pujas and basic mikpa—the only pujas that the Himalayan Sangha may be more adroit are the extended Mahakala texts and jinseks.

The Drupkang is excellent is if you really want to practice—if your thoughts are more focused on “after” the Drupkang — if you are simply thinking “Oh this is a way to make a living and publicize myself as a guru” or “After the Drupkang, I can write and publish books” —and some people have these thoughts in the East and West—then the Drupkang isn’t much benefit.

The Drupkangs are probably easier in India because usually there are 21 retreatants. There is a designated Umze and Chopon. You might have to do some choponing—but not as much as in the West—and I don’t think you would have to Umze at all in India. On the down side—Umze and Chopon -ing are excellent meditation skills! Nothing gave me more anxiety than the Umze seat—but sitting down in that seat and working through my fear—well that is a seed of practice.

In the west, you will be expected to cook and clean—usually in India, the Drupkangs hire a cook—and cleaning is shared by all 21 retreatants (except probably the Umze) —even if the cook quits in India—cooking is shared by at least 20 retreatants vs 6 to 9 in the west. The India Drupkangs often have meals prepared and sponsored by neighborhood Jindaks.The Drupkang facilities are newer in India—and usually well financed by Jindaks. In the west—you will have to pay and clean and cook your own way through the Drupkang—but I would argue it is a better practice experience.

If you complete the Drupkang in the west, then I would suggest you remain at the Monastery for one year after the retreat to acclimate—and then—if you can—spend a year at a Monastery of the same lineage in India or Nepal. The texts should be the same—maybe slight variations— i found it is enormously helpful to chant with a large Sangha—and during those pujas to take time to develop mikpa. In the west—when there are just 6 retreatants and one is downstairs cooking and another is choponing—everyone has to keep chanting—there isn’t time to stop just listen—and work on mikpa.

There are many Lineage obstacles—but they can also be used as tools for practice.

philji
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Re: three year retreat experiences?

Post by philji » Thu Feb 21, 2019 5:04 pm

:good:
JangchubLhamo927 wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 4:52 pm
Initially the biggest obstacle was getting used to sleeping in a meditation box. After the first month, in exasperation, I tossed my cushion on the plywood floor and tried to sleep on the ground—but that was even worse. So I climbed back into the box—slowly, by about the 3rd or 4th month—I grew more accustomed to the “lighter” sleep of sitting up.

I would argue that the Himalayan Sangha isn’t any more prepared for the Drupkang than westerners. All Monasteries have about the same ratio of retreat graduates who remain at the Gompa—and those that leave.

While westerners may have more individual personality disagreements, the Himalayan Sangha has to work through ethnicity divisiveness. There are very few Tibetans in the Monasteries in Northern India—most monks and nuns are from various ethnic tribes. The the Sangha members often, unfortunately, divide themselves along these ethnic fissures.

Even with the chanting—if you move to a Monastery at least a year and a half before retreat, you can usually learn the daily pujas and basic mikpa—the only pujas that the Himalayan Sangha may be more adroit are the extended Mahakala texts and jinseks.

The Drupkang is excellent is if you really want to practice—if your thoughts are more focused on “after” the Drupkang — if you are simply thinking “Oh this is a way to make a living and publicize myself as a guru” or “After the Drupkang, I can write and publish books” —and some people have these thoughts in the East and West—then the Drupkang isn’t much benefit.

The Drupkangs are probably easier in India because usually there are 21 retreatants. There is a designated Umze and Chopon. You might have to do some choponing—but not as much as in the West—and I don’t think you would have to Umze at all in India. On the down side—Umze and Chopon -ing are excellent meditation skills! Nothing gave me more anxiety than the Umze seat—but sitting down in that seat and working through my fear—well that is a seed of practice.

In the west, you will be expected to cook and clean—usually in India, the Drupkangs hire a cook—and cleaning is shared by all 21 retreatants (except probably the Umze) —even if the cook quits in India—cooking is shared by at least 20 retreatants vs 6 to 9 in the west. The India Drupkangs often have meals prepared and sponsored by neighborhood Jindaks.The Drupkang facilities are newer in India—and usually well financed by Jindaks. In the west—you will have to pay and clean and cook your own way through the Drupkang—but I would argue it is a better practice experience.

If you complete the Drupkang in the west, then I would suggest you remain at the Monastery for one year after the retreat to acclimate—and then—if you can—spend a year at a Monastery of the same lineage in India or Nepal. The texts should be the same—maybe slight variations— i found it is enormously helpful to chant with a large Sangha—and during those pujas to take time to develop mikpa. In the west—when there are just 6 retreatants and one is downstairs cooking and another is choponing—everyone has to keep chanting—there isn’t time to stop just listen—and work on mikpa.

There are many Lineage obstacles—but they can also be used as tools for practice.

smcj
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Re: three year retreat experiences?

Post by smcj » Thu Feb 21, 2019 5:22 pm

Cone wrote:These days, the 3 year retreat is, for most, somewhat like a certification program, where one is exposed to the whole path, taught a variety of practices and one has the ability to experience some practice. Most graduates will tell you that it is just the beginning.
:good:
JangchubLhamo927 wrote:The Drupkang is excellent is if you really want to practice—if your thoughts are more focused on “after” the Drupkang — if you are simply thinking “Oh this is a way to make a living and publicize myself as a guru” or “After the Drupkang, I can write and publish books” —and some people have these thoughts in the East and West—then the Drupkang isn’t much benefit.
:good:

I heard a story where during one of the early retreats one person could be heard typing away when he was supposed to be meditating. This was before computers became common. He is still lecturing and writing to this day.
Last edited by smcj on Thu Feb 21, 2019 6:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
2. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)

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Re: three year retreat experiences?

Post by smcj » Thu Feb 21, 2019 6:09 pm

I’m going to speak Kagyu heresy and float the idea that maybe Kongtrul’s 3 year retreat formula isn’t the best vehicle for transmitting Dharma to the West. Maybe people should learn fewer practices and learn to actually master them. Perhaps something like Ngondro, Shamans & Chenrezig. As it is now even when someone does a second retreat they usually just race through the same program that they did before.

But that is coming from a coward that wouldn’t be able to handle a 3 year retreat anyway.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
2. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)

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Miroku
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Re: three year retreat experiences?

Post by Miroku » Thu Feb 21, 2019 7:45 pm

smcj wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 6:09 pm
I’m going to speak Kagyu heresy and float the idea that maybe Kongtrul’s 3 year retreat formula isn’t the best vehicle for transmitting Dharma to the West. Maybe people should learn fewer practices and learn to actually master them. Perhaps something like Ngondro, Shamans & Chenrezig. As it is now even when someone does a second retreat they usually just race through the same program that they did before.

But that is coming from a coward that wouldn’t be able to handle a 3 year retreat anyway.
I think it would be best if the lineage heads experimented a bit more with various programms and etc how to make good practitioners. But yeah interesting idea. :twothumbsup:
“Observing samaya involves to remain inseparable from the union of wisdom and compassion at all times, to sustain mindfulness, and to put into practice the guru’s instructions”. Garchen Rinpoche

zenman
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Re: three year retreat experiences?

Post by zenman » Thu Feb 21, 2019 7:57 pm

smcj wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 6:09 pm
I’m going to speak Kagyu heresy and float the idea that maybe Kongtrul’s 3 year retreat formula isn’t the best vehicle for transmitting Dharma to the West. Maybe people should learn fewer practices and learn to actually master them. Perhaps something like Ngondro, Shamans & Chenrezig. As it is now even when someone does a second retreat they usually just race through the same program that they did before.

But that is coming from a coward that wouldn’t be able to handle a 3 year retreat anyway.
I won't do it either but it does seem that there is a lot of racing through in these retreats.

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Re: three year retreat experiences?

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Thu Feb 21, 2019 7:59 pm

smcj wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 6:09 pm
I’m going to speak Kagyu heresy and float the idea that maybe Kongtrul’s 3 year retreat formula isn’t the best vehicle for transmitting Dharma to the West. Maybe people should learn fewer practices and learn to actually master them. Perhaps something like Ngondro, Shamans & Chenrezig. As it is now even when someone does a second retreat they usually just race through the same program that they did before.

But that is coming from a coward that wouldn’t be able to handle a 3 year retreat anyway.
I have a question on this point:

Are there some folks who see retreat as a place to gain such realization that one no longer needs much of a formal daily practice? I imagine plenty would not feel this way, but I'm wondering if some do, or would make such an argument.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

smcj
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Re: three year retreat experiences?

Post by smcj » Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:13 pm

Are there some folks who see retreat as a place to gain such realization that one no longer needs much of a formal daily practice?

My understanding is that the 3 year retreat gives you a basic familiarity with the A to Z of a particular tradition. After retreat you would have had enough instruction to continue on without further supervision. However there’s no guarantee of that. It is the beginning of your life’s practice.
I imagine plenty would not feel this way, but I'm wondering if some do, or would make such an argument.
There are some. Chime R in the UK had a family, full time job, and a gang of students wanting his time. I can’t say for sure, but it’s hard to see where he would have time for a serious daily practice.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
2. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)

florin
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Re: three year retreat experiences?

Post by florin » Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:18 pm

smcj wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 6:09 pm
I’m going to speak Kagyu heresy and float the idea that maybe Kongtrul’s 3 year retreat formula isn’t the best vehicle for transmitting Dharma to the West. Maybe people should learn fewer practices and learn to actually master them. Perhaps something like Ngondro, Shamans & Chenrezig. As it is now even when someone does a second retreat they usually just race through the same program that they did before.

But that is coming from a coward that wouldn’t be able to handle a 3 year retreat anyway.
In Samye Ling they've done away with the three year retreat formula. Dont know if this is temporary, long term or forever. It appears that they came to the conclusion that a different approach is needed.
“The path of the supreme yoga it is not the path of accomplished sages of the past. Whoever enters onto the path of the sages of the past will end up gripped by the sicknesses of the path - meditation, attachment, and exertion.”Thig le drug pa.

“Everything of the universe of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa arises as the enlightened energy of the one self-perfected Natural Presence. But these teachers still mistakenly teach that disciples should fabricate enlightenment by applying discipline, renunciation, interruption, purification and transformation”.

smcj
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Re: three year retreat experiences?

Post by smcj » Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:31 pm

In Samye Ling they've done away with the three year retreat formula. Dont know if this is temporary, long term or forever. It appears that they came to the conclusion that a different approach is needed.
Interesting. Where’d you hear that? I’d like to know more if possible.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
2. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)

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Re: three year retreat experiences?

Post by treehuggingoctopus » Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:26 pm

florin wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:18 pm
smcj wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 6:09 pm
I’m going to speak Kagyu heresy and float the idea that maybe Kongtrul’s 3 year retreat formula isn’t the best vehicle for transmitting Dharma to the West. Maybe people should learn fewer practices and learn to actually master them. Perhaps something like Ngondro, Shamans & Chenrezig. As it is now even when someone does a second retreat they usually just race through the same program that they did before.

But that is coming from a coward that wouldn’t be able to handle a 3 year retreat anyway.
In Samye Ling they've done away with the three year retreat formula. Dont know if this is temporary, long term or forever. It appears that they came to the conclusion that a different approach is needed.
:shock:
. . . there they saw a rock! But it wasn't a rock . . .

smcj
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Re: three year retreat experiences?

Post by smcj » Fri Feb 22, 2019 12:22 am

In general, a retreat can be for a set period of time, a set number of repetitions, or by result. So you can say that you’re going on a month long retreat, a 10,000 mantra retreat, or until you get the signs of accomplishment. In the last scenario the commitment is open ended. You may get it in 10 days, 10 weeks, or months or years. In theory even lifetimes.

That last one is a little scary if you ask me.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
2. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)

florin
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Re: three year retreat experiences?

Post by florin » Fri Feb 22, 2019 12:45 am

smcj wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:31 pm
Where’d you hear that? I’d like to know more if possible.
I work at the Samye Ling Library.
I do not know details.
“The path of the supreme yoga it is not the path of accomplished sages of the past. Whoever enters onto the path of the sages of the past will end up gripped by the sicknesses of the path - meditation, attachment, and exertion.”Thig le drug pa.

“Everything of the universe of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa arises as the enlightened energy of the one self-perfected Natural Presence. But these teachers still mistakenly teach that disciples should fabricate enlightenment by applying discipline, renunciation, interruption, purification and transformation”.

smcj
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Re: three year retreat experiences?

Post by smcj » Fri Feb 22, 2019 1:58 am

florin wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 12:45 am
smcj wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:31 pm
Where’d you hear that? I’d like to know more if possible.
I work at the Samye Ling Library.
I do not know details.
Thanks. That’s good enough for me.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
2. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)

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Sonam Wangchug
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Re: three year retreat experiences?

Post by Sonam Wangchug » Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:10 am

IMHO people who wish to undertake a three year retreat should have previous retreat experience before deciding. Initially 1 month, than 3, than 6, if they fare well then continue. I am in complete agreement with my late teacher about this point. If you have ever met 3year Retreatants you will realize that some come out worse, mentally off, or with pride for size of a mountain. For others, it can be a meaningful experience, but ones retreat will ultimately follow ones own motivation for undertaking one which should be the liberation of all mother sentient beings.
"To have confidence in the teacher is the ultimate refuge." -Rigzin Jigme Lingpa

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Sonam Wangchug
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Re: three year retreat experiences?

Post by Sonam Wangchug » Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:11 am

Sonam Wangchug wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:10 am
IMHO people who wish to undertake a three year retreat should have previous retreat experience before deciding. Initially 1 month, then 3, then 6, if they fare well then continue. I am in complete agreement with my late teacher about this point. If you have ever met 3year Retreatants you will realize that some come out worse, mentally off, or with pride for size of a mountain. For others, it can be a meaningful experience, but ones retreat will ultimately follow ones own motivation for undertaking one which should be the liberation of all mother sentient beings.
"To have confidence in the teacher is the ultimate refuge." -Rigzin Jigme Lingpa

smcj
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Re: three year retreat experiences?

Post by smcj » Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:37 am

Good post, but could you delete three of them? Four of the same post is a bit much.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.
2. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)

yagmort
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Re: three year retreat experiences?

Post by yagmort » Fri Feb 22, 2019 11:04 am

smcj wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 6:09 pm
I’m going to speak Kagyu heresy and float the idea that maybe Kongtrul’s 3 year retreat formula isn’t the best vehicle for transmitting Dharma to the West. Maybe people should learn fewer practices and learn to actually master them. Perhaps something like Ngondro, Shamans & Chenrezig. As it is now even when someone does a second retreat they usually just race through the same program that they did before.

But that is coming from a coward that wouldn’t be able to handle a 3 year retreat anyway.
personally i don't see it as a heresy at all. imho this is the way to go. from what i heard drukpa and drikung don't follow Kongtrul's 3 year retreat formula and do their own plan as it have always been, mahamudra and naro cho druk mostly.

Silent Bob1
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Re: three year retreat experiences?

Post by Silent Bob1 » Fri Feb 22, 2019 6:43 pm

Before things fell apart in Shambhala, Gampo Abbey was beginning to offer six-month and year-long strict retreats on a few practices, which included the Six Yogas and another on Vajrayogini/Chakrasamvara. This seemed like an eminently sensible approach for students who've been practicing in this tradition for a long time and have no interest in doing the full 3-year curriculum, starting with ngondro.

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