One of the difficulties of writing about the experience of the retreat is in finding the balance between talking about concepts/definitions which need to be understood in order for anything that I’m saying to make sense, and just writing about the experience itself and not worrying about whether the reader is familiar with the terms I’m using. The latter isn’t appealing to me, but the former results in a lot of verbosity and a loss of cohesiveness.
I think I’ve done a decent job of balancing it here, though I’m sure there’s a lot that I have missed. If this is the first post of mine you’re reading, it might help to go back and read some of the things I wrote about the last retreat: in this post I outline the general schedule of retreats, and go into some Buddhism 101, and in this post, towards the end, I talk about wtf meditation actually is and what mental muscles it exercises.
I’ve been hearing a lot of things about this retreat in the days and weeks leading up to it. That it’s really intense, that it’s not that intense, that it’s the most important retreat of the year, that the really serious practitioners (the “Dragon” group) are supposed to commit to reaching enlightenment by the end of it (look, I’ll be happy if I end up with generally-more-productive days as a result of the retreat, and maybe eating fewer cookies – enlightenment feels a little bit out of reach).
Some people are dreading it. Some people are excited for it. For me, I’m definitely in the excited camp. I’ve been at the monastery for a month and a half now — The 7-day retreat last month was tough but fascinating, and I imagine that the 14-day retreat will be tougher and …