Posted in Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism

Roll-Your-Own Retreat Schedule

My beloved husband is going out of town next weekend.  So, I’ve decided to take Sylvia Boorstein’s advice and “don’t just do something, sit there!”  Below is my tentative schedule, based on Hubby leaving around 7 Friday and returning sometime after 2 on Sunday.

Of course, all schedules are subject to change!  I will probably be seeing a friend on Saturday afternoon; I’ll just chop out the activities I had scheduled for that window of time.

My plan is a mix of Zen and Tibetan practices.  They actually blend together better than one might think.  Tributaries of the same stream.

I’ll try to report back after I see how it actually works!

FRIDAY

7:00 PM           Open Formal Retreat.  Prajna Paramita Practice (Sunset is at 7:40)

8:00 PM           Demon Feeding Practice

8:30 PM           Walk Dogs, Feed Dogs, Cat, Bun

9:00 PM           Evening Bell Chant

9:30 PM           Lights Out

SATURDAY

5:30 AM          Wake Up, Walk Dogs

6:00 AM          Prajna Paramita Practice (Sunrise is at 6:15)

7:00 AM          Demon Feeding Practice

7:30 AM          Breakfast, Walk Dogs

8:30 AM          Zazen – Bowing, Chanting, 3-4 Periods with 10 minutes of walking in between

11:30 AM        Relax (Yoga, Shower, Read, Etc.)

12:30 PM         Lunch, Walk Dogs

1:30 PM           Relax (Read, Etc.)

2:00 PM           Zazen – 5 Periods with 10 minutes of walking in between

5:10 PM           Relax (Yoga, Read, Etc.), Walk Dogs

6:00 PM           Dinner

7:00 PM           Prajna Paramita Practice (Sunset is at 7:39)

8:00 PM           Demon Feeding Practice

8:30 PM           Walk Dogs, Feed Dogs, Cat, Bun

9:00 PM           Evening Bell Chant

9:30 PM           Lights Out

SUNDAY

5:30 AM          Wake Up, Walk Dogs

6:00 AM          Prajna Paramita Practice (Sunrise is at 6:15)

7:00 AM          Demon Feeding Practice

7:30 AM          Breakfast, Walk Dogs

8:30 AM          Zazen – Bowing, Chanting, 3-4 Periods with 10 minutes of walking in between

11:30 AM        Relax (Yoga, Shower, Read, Etc.)

12:30 PM         Lunch, Walk Dogs

1:30 PM           Zazen

2:00 PM           Close Formal Retreat

2:01 PM           Nap.  🙂  KATZ!

Posted in Week in Review, Zen Buddhism

The Week in Review through 11/16/08

Meditation:

Demon Feeding: 2
Prajna Paramita Practice: 6
Zazen (periods): 4
Metta: 1

Chanting: 2

Teachings:

Talks attended: 1

Notes:

Zen Master Jibong gave a short talk on awareness. As always, powerful teaching.

I did a “roll your own retreat” yesterday. There was a day-long scheduled at the Zen Center, but I was still too congested from the flu. Even my rabbit was giving me funny looks and twitching his ears at all the unpleasant sounds I’ve been making. I decided I’d be more comfortable at home, and this way I wouldn’t disturb others’ meditation. So in between blowing my nose, walking the dogs, fixing meals, taking a nap, and generally feeling miserable, I did a few hours hard training. It was wonderful. 🙂

I’m doing less Demon Feeding practice these days and more Prajna Paramita practice instead. I’ve become fairly familiar with my demons, and while I’ll continue to have a relationship with them, they are quiet enough for now to allow me to focus on other practices.

Posted in Week in Review, Zen Buddhism

The Week in Review through 11/2/08

Meditation:

Demon Feeding: 7
Prajna Paramita Practice: 2
Zazen (periods): 1

Chanting: 1

Teachings:

Talks attended: 1

Notes:

Zen Master Jibong gave a talk on growing up and taking responsibility without losing our childlike enjoyment of life. On the absolute level, form is emptiness. In 300 years, where will you be? Nothing we do matters. On the relative level, emptiness is form. One person can make a difference. Everything we do matters.

It was a profound teaching. I was ready for it, since my recent retreat. Prior to that, I don’t think I would have understood a word the man was saying. I’m sure he’s talked about absolute and relative truth before, but I swear I have no memory of those terms until Lama Tsultrim taught them at Spirit Rock. In the month since then, I’ve heard Jibong and Tim both speak of them many times.

Isn’t that interesting…?

Posted in Week in Review

The Week in Review through 10/26/08

Meditation:

Demon Feeding: 7
Prajna Paramita Practice: 3
Zazen (periods): 5

Chanting: 2

Teachings:

Talks attended: 2

Books Finished: 1

“Dharma Punx” by Noah Levine

Notes:

I went to hear Tim, a Senior Dharma Teacher and abbot of the Golden Wind Zen Center, give a talk at Aikido-Ai on Tuesday. He spoke on “Polarity, Paradox and Poetry.” It’s hard to encapsulate a brilliant, 3-minute dharma talk, but here’s how I put it to my husband: the polarity is that, according to the Heart Sutra, form is emptiness and emptiness is form. The paradox is that both are true. The poetry is how you learn to accept that truth. After Tim’s talk, Zen Master Jibong answered questions from the audience. Then we had refreshments on the patio. A very pleasant evening.

Posted in Tibetan Buddhism

Non-Duality (Or, A Cool Thing I Learned on Retreat)

I’ve been doing Prajna Paramita practice and Feeding Your Demons practice since my return from a retreat at Spirit Rock. Maybe I’m a little slow, but it’s taken me until recently to figure out how they work together.

Both are Tibetan meditation practices that I learned from Lama Tsultrim Allione. Both involve visualization. I think of Prajna Paramita practice as “tantric” because the body position is very precise. Demon Feeding involves moving around. None of this was familiar to me as a Zen practitioner.

Prajna Paramita means “perfection of wisdom.” It is a mantra, an ideal, and, it turns out, an Indian goddess. The practice involves absorbing and becoming the goddess, or in more practical terms, getting in touch with your own inner knowing. Or your Buddha nature. Or your Christ consciousness. Or your subconscious mind. In my personal experience, the practice is teaching me to listen to the still, small voice within and trust it. It’s much easier to follow your intuition when you’ve been channeling a wisdom goddess.

Demon Feeding is a more “feminine” approach to dealing with what ails you. “Demons” are our inner forces that try to undermine us. Examples include depression, addiction, and disease, or global demons like war. They can be anything that stands between us and liberation. The practice of feeding our demons rather than fighting them accomplishes two main goals. It saves the energy we would have spent in the fight. It also turns the demon into an ally.

Lama Tsultrim taught both practices on the retreat, but I really didn’t get how they fit together until I’d been doing them at home for about two and a half weeks. Then it hit me how much I’m willing to trust the process of Demon Feeding because I trust myself more in general as a result of the Prajna Paramita practice.

Resting in my own innate, inner gnosis at the end of Prajna Paramita practice, I’m open to listening to the “large I” (as we say in Zen), and let go of the “small i.” Jung might call it the collective unconscious. For myself, I’m learning to make better decisions. And part of that better decision making has been to listen, really listen, to the voices of my demons and allies during Demon Feeding. I see patterns emerging that I had never noticed before, and I’m a fairly introspective person.

At last, I see the wisdom of learning – and practicing – these two meditation traditions together. When I viewed them as two separate practices, I was grateful to have learned each of them. Now, though, I’m finally getting to the heart of the lesson:

Nothing is separate.