03 Sep 2013
Alan welcomes the participants at the Thanyapura MindCenter and explains some of the groundrules for the 8-week Fall 2013 retreat. Alan begins by presenting some logistics followed by the content - the framework for his cycle of teachings. Alan elaborates on general recommendations: How to get most out of the retreat.
22:45 minutes into the recording Alan speaks about the content for this retreat. Unlike during previous retreats when 3 methods of Shamatha were thought, there will be 4 methods of Shamatha this year:
Week 1 Mindfulness of breathing
Week 2 Settling the Mind in its natural State
Week 3 Awareness of Awareness (Shamatha without a Sign)
Week 4 Merging the Mind with Space (NEW)
Week 5-8 will repeat the same sequence but more in depth.
For the half an hour teaching in the afternoon which is followed by discussions the topic for the 1st month will be
the “Seven-Point Mind Training” and for the 2nd month “A Guide to the Bodhiattva Way of Life”.
Alan also welcomes everybody who is following this retreat by listening to the podcast.
Note: Several sections containing personal introduction of the retreatants have been removed.
Welcome all of you to this increasingly beautiful center here, this Thanyapura. Everytime I come here Klaus has done more to make it just more and more exquisite. So, great pleasure to be back, this time for the seventh retreat of this sort, yeah.
Well, I see that I have major competition this time with that magnificent sports center over there, and the wonderful food of divine, so I’ll try to tug you into meditation as much as I can. But I know this is gonna be a tug of war for set for the eight weeks we’re here. So, just to jump right in, what I’d like to do this evening is just first of all attend to some of the, just the logistics of being here, what you gonna expect in terms of format, then I’d like to give a very brief introduction to the content of what I anticipate, we’ll be focusing on for this eight weeks. And then, making this a fairly short evening, ‘cause I imagine some of you are still jet lagged, maybe you even came in this morning. What I would like to do is invite all of you to give a very brief introduction, to yourselves , your, I think essentially your country, your name first of all, first name, country, and then just a very short synopsis of your dharma background, which is what I’d be most interested in. [1:20]
So first of all for logistics, what I’d like to do this time is start the interviews really quickly, and not let several days go by, because it’s a very, a really precious time. And I’d like to get to know each of you individually as soon as possible, so this first week of interviews is more of just getting to know each other by the time we get into stride,next week then we’ll be going really hunkering down and focusing on your meditative practice for each week. I have found in the past that 15 minutes is really a very good time, it is quite sufficient overall. And then of course every day we’ll have time for questions and answers. So, please do sign up as soon as possible, especially those who can sign up for tomorrow, so it’s at 10, 10:20, 10:40. And the interviews, or the time we have together for our personal meetings are 15 minutes and we try to be very punctual there, and then I have 5 minutes just to write up notes and so forth, so I can see what’s developing over time.
One note, that we’ve made a really good habit here in Thanyapura and I just generally do wherever I teach, is punctuality. It is not being rigid or up tight, to my mind being punctual is simply a sign of courtesy, just that. So, baring ill health or just something really unusual, you can expect that I’ll be here within about 60 seconds of our time, so 9 o’clock in the morning and then 4:30 in the afternoon, and so if we can all be here, it’s just convenient. It’s kind of courtesy that we are not waiting on other people kind slowly meandering in. So very simple kind of thing. But if for our meeting’s here we can be very punctual, it just makes things a lot easier. And then likewise for the interviews. We are, they’re kind of dense, 3 people every morning, 3 people every afternoon. So if you can show up very punctually, then I can meet you right at the time and so, because if you come, show up late it’s really taking time out of your time. Because we do need to end at, what it would be, 10:15 and so forth and so on. So, punctuality very helpful.
And then, in terms of silence, it’s very important, that what will happen here, I’m gonna be a prophet because I’ve seen this happen so many times - is I think within a very short time you’ll get to know each other in a real sense of community. If we want to be all gushy we can say family, dharma-family. But certainly a spiritual community will arise here, I’m assuming and I’m certainly anticipating a spiritual friendship, of trust among everybody here. And so for that, today being Monday, so Tuesday, Wednesday, especially over meals I would encourage you to talk with each other and get to know each other. And then Thursday we’ll start silence, ok? And then at the very end of the retreat, the last 3 days or so will be once again not silence, during meals, so we’ll be kind of making the transition out. And then in terms of our kind of being in the main body of the retreat, so starting Thursday and then up until right towards the end of the retreat, there’s a nice balance here that I think we can all strike, in terms of not too much - not too little. And that is, this is not a rigid rule that is absolutely maintaining strict silence and so forth, much too rigid. At the same time if we fill the time between sessions with a lot of you know, unnecessary talking, just chatter, and filling time, killing time with speech, I think I can pretty much guarantee you that your kind of, the collected-ness, , the presence, the calm, the inner clarity and so forth, that you’d be cultivating while on the cushion, will rapidly dissipate as you get caught up in conversation, alright? [5:04]. And so the middle way here is, that, number 1 - for this room, unless there are yoga lessons, and that’s something that will kind of unfold over time, we’ve often had yoga. But apart from yoga lessons and our time collectively here for discussions, for dharma talk, this is a place of silence, ok? So some of you I think will very much enjoy your own private rooms and be able to set your own schedule. And in silence and so many of you, including myself, will want to spend really all of your time in meditation and solitary meditation in your own rooms. Of course you’re welcome to do that. What I found in the past is some people simply like the spaciousness of this room, and like to come here. And so what I would invite you all, or really ask of you all, is this is a place where throughout the course of the day you can come and you know this would be a silent place. So you can come at any time, just very quietly come in, sit down, go to your meditation, but you know that there’ll not be chattering or conversation taking place here.
[6:09] Another point here that we’ve, I think we’ve done every single time in the past is that given the fact that our collective time with me being present here in the room is really very few hours per day, it’s only two hours, but by intention, it allows you to set up your own daily schedule, your own level - when you’re beginning in the morning, how late to go in the evening, so . we’re really once again striking a balance. And I’ll let you know that B. Alan Wallace stands for balance walla, a peddler of balance. And so that’s going to be a theme that runs for all the retreats we’ve had here in the past and I think in the future as well.
One more element of balance here is that we have now 37 people, and then 38 including Danny, who lives here just across a street, an old timer. So we have 38 people here, and then add myself 39, and so on the one hand all of us are here, including myself, I’ve, in the past I’ve been meditating about 9 hours a day when I’m here, so I’m kind of in quasi-retreat myself, which I very much savour. So on the one hand we have 39 people here, each having our own individual retreat, ok? So some people may meditate daily only 4 or 5 hours, that’s your call. Other people 8 or 9 or 10 or 11 or 12 hours a day, it’s your call. You set your own duration of your times. Some people are morning people, I happened to be a morning person, other people are really evening or night people, they like to meditate until 12-1 o’clock in the morning, or be up doing whatever is meaningful. And so on the one hand 39, oh, and then Andrea, that makes 40, he is our resident meditation instructor, who has my very high, well, deep friendship but also have very high respect for him as a meditation teacher. So it’s his call, but should you want to be able to consult a real expert in meditation with a great deal background; Andrea is a wealth of knowledge. But I don’t want to pick on him because he has many other things to do here, but I do tell you - there’s a really good resource right over here. So that makes 40. So 40 of us here in a way each for our own individual retreats in our own individual rooms, setting our own schedule, how intense it is, how loose it is, it’s really our own call. And so this is one of the strengths of these retreats , I think. It’s a strength and it can be a limitation but in many retreats, especially of shorter duration, but I think also in places like Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts, Spirit Rock where they, Spirit Rock in California, where they regularly hold 3-month retreats. I haven’t been for one of the 3-month retreats, but I think there’s a lot of externally imposed discipline, setting schedule and so forth, and that can be a real strength, so I’m not criticizing I’m not saying one is better than the other. It can happen, it can happen that when you’re in a meditative setting where the discipline is set from outside, “ok, everybody hup-hup, we’re meditating 9 to 11, hup-hup we’re meditating...” etc. etc, that we easily conform to discipline set from outside, right? But then when we go home when there is no such external structure, we may be struggling a little bit to maintain a really robust and regularly meditative practice ourselves. Ah, and so that doesn’t necessarily happen, so there’s strengths and weaknesses, or strengths and limitations. In either way of a lot of externally imposed discipline and very little, what we have here is very little. And a major reason for that is that when you leave here after 8 weeks having set your own discipline, you’ll know that you set that discipline. It wasn’t me cracking the whip, it wasn’t externally imposed, it was what you rose to, the level of discipline, the number of hours, the duration of sessions, it’s something that you chose. And that you sustained, right? Which means that if you’d like to go into regular one day retreats after you’ve left here or occasional weekend retreats, some people in the past are still in retreat even going back to the shamatha project 6 years ago there‘s still several of them in full-time retreat. And from the very first retreat we had here, 4 years ago now, is it 4 years ? 3 years ago, some people from that retreat are still in full time retreat, Noah for example, Noah Rosetta is continuous in retreat and they come from 8 weeks here having set their discipline. And then we found that if they go into long term retreat they know how to maintain the discipline because they have already done it. It’s not speculation. Ok?
[10:21] So having said that, having some a little bit more, not so much externally imposed discipline, a bit more format, a bit more structure to the time here many people find helpful. So what I would invite you to do, and if you don’t do it’s perfectly fine, but what I’d invite you to do is you might have a one hour optional session, for example 10 to 11 in the morning, and maybe 2 to 3 in the afternoon. I won’t be here, I’m leaving, I’m giving the, having the personal meetings or interviews during that time. But if some of you would like to have a bit of kinda group energy and group support, then you might very well do this and you might ask one person just to be the time keeper. You know this is public property so anybody is welcome to sit here, I don’t own it, I just, where I sit when I’m here. Or if you like to sit there I just don’t care at all. But you might have one person just the time keeper, and then have maybe two, maybe two sessions and a little break in between, two 24 minute sessions. And then, a lot of people really cherish that, and in past we found maybe 10 or 15 people, will come to those morning and afternoon sessions. It gives a little bit more structure to the day, a bit of group energy. And so that is clearly optional. Come whenever you like. But if you are coming, if you, you folks, , this is grass roots, it’s is your decision, not something I’m really asking you do, I’m kind of inviting this as a possibility. But if you do do that then once again it’s simply an expression of courtesy to show up at 10 o’clock and not start after people have already got in 5 minutes in their retreat and have people straggling in, ok? So, there is the balance, and I was speaking of another balance and that is I mentioned okay40 people - 40 individual retreats okay, on your own, with your own aspirations, your ideals. And of course you’re very welcome to augment the practices that would emphasized, taught and guided during this retreat from me, augment these practices with your own practice. So some of you will have a daily commitments you have from Tibetan Lamas that you’ve taken on, of course if there are commitments you keep them. But that would be entirely individual. So some of you may have just a few, some more. Some may have some other practices you really love doing and you’d like to augment when I’m sharing with you here with your own practices, you’re absolutely welcome to do so, ok? The aspiration here is really to let this 8 weeks in this really utterly magnificently conducive environment be as meaningful as possible. So I’m kind of meandering, r kinda jumping around little bit from topic to topic, but coming back to the issue of silence, not really absolutely strict silence, you know, where you have to do sign language and so forth, at the same time default mode - default mode is silence, really strongly encouraged. Generally speaking this is kind of an epicenter of silence here in this room, as I mentioned before. And then also within the quad, that is within the square there where all the rooms are, um, sound really does travel. And also the walls here are relatively thin. Klaus had a marvelous design to make the very strong noise insulation between each of the rooms with double walls. And I think foam in between and concrete, it was just a beautiful design that he had to make all of the rooms really soundproof, and lo and behold they built it before they got that message or they ignored it or whatever and by the time the walls were in it was too late. This is not a big disadvantage for us, since this is a silent retreat. So if you are doing as I do, I have my daily commitments, I’ve have for forty years most of them, you just do very very quietly. Under your breath, a very soft voice, if you have chanting or mantras or things like that that you need to do, of course, do them. But a soft voice so that your neighbours do not have to participate in your meditation. And the practices we’ll be doing here are silent meditations, so we’ve not found this to be a major problem at all. But, if for example, if two people talking in one room, well then you can just be certain that your two neighbours will be party to your conversation. So the rooms, the quad there where all the rooms are, if you can really generally keep that silent, of course at the front desk, ah, just you know, speaking in ordinary, fairly soft tones, it’s perfectly fine, right?
[14:51] But now in terms of meaningful speech - there is the road outside, obviously you can go walking in either direction. It’s very rural here, we’ve not had any problems in terms of safety. Generally walk during the daylight hours. But now, this is for the first time, we actually have pathways within the whole Thanyapura complex. So as I think you’ve already discovered you can go to the swimming pool, to the sports center, to the divine restaurant and all of that without having to go around outside, which was the case previously. But now it’s pretty well complete, I’ve had a couple of meals with Klaus Hebben, the creator, the master mind behind all of this, and he said the center now is pretty much complete apart from the school which he’d like to further develop as they add on the higher grades and also provide boarding facilities for boarding students. So it looks like there’ll be some more construction, but I think not while we’re here.
[16:00] But now pretty much for sports facility, this whole sports center, there’s a clinic over there, of course the restaurant. The sports hotel has been finished since I was away and it’s really quite lovely. And then our place has really been pretty much complete for the last 3 years. So in terms of just going for a walks, obviously you can go for interesting walks, they may even have nature walks, we’ve had those in the past. That can be very nice, we’re living in a very nature-rich environment here, lots and lots of wildlife, some of which you’ll want to be careful of. Thailand abounds in snakes. But they don’t want to bite you any more than you wanna bite them. They do so as a final resort when they feel they are threatened. So we’ve never had any body bitten. Not even close. But there they are, you want to keep your eyes open especially if you’re walking in the dark. Just kind of be aware of the ground.
But in terms of speech, again coming back to the original point, and that is - meaningful speech. And so if there’s someone else, I know a number of you are friends already or you have spouses here and so forth, or, hopefully you’ll all be friends within a very short time; if two or more of you decide at any time during the long breaks between our two hours here each day, would you like to go for a walk and just have meaningful conversation to enrich your practice, to just, have friendly conversation, but really practice centered conversation, you’re always welcome to do so. So it’s really your call. We’re all adults here and so it’s just your own judgement call what would be most conducive to your practice - to maintain that ongoing flow of silence, which truly can be golden and very very helpful for maintaining sheer continuity of your practice, but on occasion without doubt meaningful speech may actually be more helpful to you on a certain afternoon, than continuing to maintain silence. . Nobody is monitoring this, and whenever I see, if I might walking and I see two or more of you speaking I just don’t give it a second thought. To my mind it must be meaningful conversation, why would you come here to waste time when you could waste time at home, this is a long way to travel, you know, to just mess around. And I think none of us came here for that reason. So there’s the balance. Overall, silence in this area, maintaining silence, meals starting Thursday in silence. And it’s not just silence for silence sake but silence to maintain the continuity of the practice, right?
So, I think you’ve already had a least one if not two orientation sessions, so now you should know the lay of the land here. It really is, this is clearly the nicest retreat center that I’ve ever practiced in or taught in, it’s really quite splendid. And if you’ve not already discovered it, you will soon discover that the Thai staff here are simple spectacular. This is again is my 7th retreat, and that’s not counting 3 time the, 3 of the Cultivating emotional balance teacher training, which I’ve co-taught here So I’ve spent, the last 3 years I’ve spent 5 months a year here. And the staff here are simply impeccable. I’ve never seen them be even remotely rude, I mean utterly the contrary.
[19:08]. My experience and it’s a good deal now, is they are just homogeneously warm, gracious, helpful, ever so pleasant, so they’re really a treat. So what we’re getting from them is just an ongoing flow of courtesy, and then it’s simply natural and expected that we will show the same to them.
[19:34] And so, ethics is a very prominent feature of buddhist practice altogether. But I’d like to just kind of tone down the, ethics is a very marvellous term nothing wrong with it at all, but I think what I’d like to invite you all, something would probably happen even without my saying it, but ethics in buddhism is the very foundation of all meditation. Without ethics meditation one can almost say is a waste of time. Because an unethical way of life just erodes, kind of undermines the very foundation of meditative practice. And so here ethics, of course, the principle of non-violence, the principle of being of service where we can. But as we will, as you’ll see from the Thai staff here, and that’s everyone, over the kitchen facility, the front desk, the people that take care of our rooms, we’re getting the delightful treatment here, I think you will have to look far and wide to find a retreat center where people are doing all the kind of service they do for us here. But as we’re receiving just an ongoing homogenous flow of courtesy from them it’s kind of natural that we would show the same thing to them and also among all of us here. I will share with you that I’ll do my very best to treat you at the very least with courtesy of all times. Nothing less would be suitable. And that if we can just all show each other courtesy - it’s that simple, then everything goes smoothly. And by enlarge I mean with very few exceptions that has been homogeneously the case in the past. But it’s important to make it explicit. So, does that cover for the logistics? Anything comes up later I will just go back to it again.
[21:08] Format, format. So we have, we have our a half an hour in the morning - from 9 to 9:30. And if we sometimes go over a little bit, no big deal. In the mornings will always be a guided meditation with maybe a little bit of preamble, sometimes yes sometimes no. The afternoons will start, that is they will go from 4:30 to 6 and then immediately followed by dinner. The afternoons will also begin with a guided meditation, and then this time, since we’re really covering some texts, and I think you’re already very familiar with these: the Seven-Point Mind-Training and a Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life. I’m going to play this by ear a little bit. But I’m thinking after the guided meditation from 4:30 to 5 ish so 24 minute session, then I certainly will not fill the hour with talk, because then we’d have no time for discussion. And discussion, the group discussion is very important. And so this will be kind of a if, if you are all a garden this would be drip feed. Just little bit each day, you know, 25 minutes - a half an hour of dharma talk, then we go to discussion. Happily we have some leisure here, you know. In a one week retreat or in the Cultivating Emotional Balance Teachers Training - they tend to be quite intense. I give a lot of information, pretty high density teachings for a short time, because this may be the primary teaching people have for six months. So I give them all a lot in a one week and then hopefully it kind of assimilates over the coming weeks and months. Here that’s not my intention at all to give you a great deal of instruction or teaching each day, not needed. Because here we are with 22 hours every day on our own, right, that’s plenty of time for assimilation, right. And so what I’m anticipating to do for the content, so now we slowly move over to that, is first of all for the meditations, the guided meditations, which will gradually have less and less guidance and more and more just quiet silent meditation as the weeks go by. What I’d like to focus on would be now four methods of shamatha. In the past a number of you I know have been to a number of retreats with me, week-long retreats with me, we have a couple of once returners, who’ve been to eight-weeks retreats here. In the past I’ve always taught three methods: - mindfulness of breathing, it’s kind of a really a baseline, enormously helpful, practice that the Buddha taught more than any other meditative practice, and then settling the mind in its natural state, do this again, which is right on the cusp, right on the border between shamatha and vipashyana, and many people would call it vipashyana, ‘cause it certainly lends itself to gaining direct insight into very important aspects of a mind itself, second one is this, and then thirdly the shamatha without a sign or awareness of awareness, which is then once again right on the cusp between shamatha vipashyana, but also on the cusp between shamatha and Dzogchen practice.
[24:00] Ok? So this is material I’ve taught many times. As many of you will know I spent more or less the first half of this year, from the winter solstice to the summer solstice in a solitary retreat, which was long awaited, much anticipated and very satisfying, very meaningful. So I had my time just time out. I was doing just a minimum e-mail that just had to be attended to. Meditating about 12 to 14 hours a day, so I really got to swim around in the pool of Dharma for a while. And one of the things that came out of that solitary retreat was a, don’t quite know how to say this, but a sense of clarity on one practice that’s referred to in the mind treasures of Dudjom Lingpa, called, and it’s simply called “Merging the mind with space”.Merging the mind with space. And it comes up in a number of his mind treasures, which I’m sure I will allude to later on in this retreat. But he just calls it by that name, and he basically doesn’t elaborate at all, he just says “do it”, for 20 or 21 days. And when you do this all day, merging your mind with space, he said “if you’re a person of medium faculties, within 20 or 21 days you’ll gain a direct insight into rigpa, or or pristine awareness, in which case you can skip shamatha, skip vipashyana, skip Threkchö and go directly to Thogyal the final stage of Dzogchen practice.
[25:26] So it’s taught as a extremely concise Dzogchen practice of the Threkchö or breaking through to pristine awareness, and that’s what it’s intended for. It’s almost like a placement exam to see, well, where are you, a person of superior faculties, medium, or like me, you know, dull faculties or the least of faculties? But as I kind of meditated on this practice, ventured into it, I found that this practice, which is really explicitly designed to realize rigpa or pristine awareness can also be a perfectly legitimate and actually very refreshing shamatha practice. And there’s a nice symmetry here. The practice of shamatha without a sign is obviously presented as a shamatha practice. But Padmasambhava when he is explaining this in quite some detail, he says: “Oh, by the way, when you are doing this practice, it may lead to a breakthrough to the direct identification of rigpa itself”. So it’s shamatha but may do double duty as a Threkchö practice for realizing rigpa. .
[26:30] This practice of “Merging the mind with space” is presented as a Threkchö practice for realizing rigpa but it can do double duty as shamatha. And, so I’ve shared that with quite a number of people since it became clear to my mind and I think virtually all of them have found it helpful. So we’ll do that. And what I’m thinking of doing this time for the first 4 weeks, in terms of the guided meditations, is really try to drench your minds in each of these 4. So 4 shamatha practices - 4 weeks. I’d like you to get really familiar with them because it’s absolutely clear to my mind - each of them has tremendous merit, great benefit. And so to really get the taste of it, so that you get really friendly with them, very familiar with them and you know for yourself the value of each of these meditative practices. Which I can guarantee you they can serve you very very well, all of them, when you’ll leave this retreat. And so what I’m anticipating doing is for the first, roughly the first week - focus on mindfulness of breathing and really unpack it, not theoretically so much, I won’t give the whole context in these sources in the Pali canon and so forth, that you can just look in “The Attention Revolution” it’s all there, just practice. But really try to unpack it, so by the end of the first week, say, ok, if you weren’t really familiar with them already, you’ll be quite familiar with them after the first week. Second week - settling the mind. Third week - shamatha without a sign. Fourth week - merging mind with space. And then we go to the second 4 week cycle - do it over again. And just go deeper and deeper but then with less instruction. So really I would hope by the time you, when we all leave here you’ll be very very familiar and know for yourself through your own experience the values, the benefits of each of these practices.
[28:20] Now in terms of the Seven-point Mind-Training, that will be our topic for the first 4 weeks. And I anticipate teaching that all the way through, all of the aphorisms, all the entire root text, it’s not very long it’s 4 pages long. And I dug out of my computer, out of my archives in my computer about 30 page, about a 30 page outline, that I’d put together a few years ago when I taught this in a 1 week retreat in Santa Barbara. And scanning through that I thought - ah, with a little bit of polishing here and there, a bit of editing, I think that can be useful kind of as a framework for this first month. And so I’m gonna finish polishing that and make that available for all of you. And it’s just that, it’s not as full as my two books, what’s it called... first one called “Seven-point Mind-Training” I think, it used to be called “A Passage from solitude”, and the it got retitled “Seven-point Mind-Training”, and then the later one, you’re all familiar with I presume “Buddhism with an Attitude”, Buddhism with an Attitude.. So for a fairly rich and detailed commentary then I would refer you to those books especially, but there are so many other very very good commentaries, one by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche called “Enlightened courage”, it’s really outstanding, one of the great Dzogchen masters of the 20th century. I think there is another one by Tongo Rinpoche, a very good Lama, I’ve not read his commentary, but he is excellent Lama, so his commentary is bound to be good. And there must be at least a half dozen or more others in English. And so this is not exclusive, I’m familiar with my own approach, my teachers, the lineage and so forth. So, if you study the commentaries, meditate on the commentaries I’ve written, that’ll be utterly in accordance here, but my approach is very traditional. So I think it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll find any real discrepancy or disparity between my interpretations of the root text and those of these various Lamas, but maybe some by western teachers as well. But it’s easy to find out, go to amazon.com and you’ll, propably all of the commentaries in “Seven-point Mind-Training” will come up. So, that’s what we’ll do for the first month, first 4 weeks, go through that line by line.
[30:09] And the second month, since I don’t want to cram a whole lot of teaching into this time, which is really primarily for meditation, it’s not so much a learning retreat, it’s primarily a meditation retreat and the teachings they are simply there to support your practice, but not to train you to become buddhist scholars, right? And so I won’t try to cover all the verses of the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life in one month, make it pretty dense and it’s just an awful lot of teaching. So not how I wish to spend the time. So what I’ll do is what His Holiness Dalai Lama does now standardly - he will say “Ok, I’ll teach Bodhicaryavatara in 3 days”. And what he does is he cherrypicks , he just finds a verse here, and verse there and a verse there. He’s going do this in Mexico, I think it’s maybe 2 days, I think it’s only 2 days for the Bodhicaryavatara. And I spoke about this with Tony [? Karam 31:19] who was organizing this magnificent visit of His Holiness this month, this month In Mexico he’ll be there for whole week. And he wrote to His Holiness saying “Well, we have only two days, will you just focus on one chapter?”. And Tony was hoping because then he could just had one chapter translated into spanish, right? And His Holiness wrote back “No, the whole text”. Which means that he is gonna be very very picky, you know, just choosing a verse here, a verse there, but throughout the entire text. So, following the footsteps of my Lama I’ll do the same thing. Just I would simply be picking out verses that I think are representative of the text, but also I’m gonna pick verses that are extremely meaningful to me and hopefully will be to you as well. Obviously, it would be very good if you have both the texts, anybody’s commentary, mine would be helpful, but any good commentary will be fine for “The Seven-point Mind-Training”. And then the root text, and there are three good translations, each of them has its own strengths and limitations, but they’re all good. Three recent translations, I think they’re the best ones out these days. And so any of those. But if you wanted to follow my translation and obviously the one that my wife and I did, will be recommended. If you don’t already have those here, I would get in touch with the office and I’ll order them and you’ll get them in time. So, Bodhicaryavatara for the second month. But a half an hour of teaching each day and discussion, followed by discussion. And I think that’s about it.
[32:50] So, yeah, so any questions before we go to just introducing yourselves. Any questions on the format or logistics or on the content, either one. Is everything totally clear? Yes, please, Eric. [inaudible 33:04]. That’s really as I suggested, this is not something I’m requesting, or like “please do it”. I’m just commenting that this has been done in the past and it’s just been done every single time and from what I know was about 10 to 15 people would regularly show up. But you don’t have to show up every time. It’s entirely optional. `And so what I would suggest here is again, it’s grass roots or it’s nothing, ‘cause I’m not going to be imposing anything at all. What I’m, I wouldn’t say “imposing”, but what I’m offering is the very clear structure in the morning, half an hour, 90 minutes in the afternoon, the weekly meetings, which are very important. And so if you can’t come please do let me know. Oh, and one more thing. So to answer that little bit more Eric; what I would suggest then is - why not just go to the front office and have a sign-up sheet, anybody interested in, attending either a 10 o’clock group session here or 2 clock, just let us know. And then if there’re any of you who would like to do a very modest job of being time keeper, I think some kind of a, all the smartphones all have timers on them. So just so there’s somebody there to just give a little bit of structure. Ok? But that’s for you to decide, set it up. And also if there any of you who are qualified yoga teachers and you’d would like to volunteer your time, to lead yoga here, as again not something I’m asking you to do, because what I’m here is to help you in your practice and not help you in your practice this time and not give you work to do. Right? But if any of you would enjoy doing that, certainly yoga is a wonderful complement to meditation. I don’t know whether Andrea or his partner Elaria will be offering, they do this professionally here, so I think it would be very suitable, if however you want to work it again. I have no interest in managing that. But since this is how Andrea and his wife make their living here, I would not ask Andrea to do this on a volunteer basis, obviously it’s his call, but this is his profession, he lives here and he is offering meditation instruction and yoga, and his partner is a professional yoga teacher as well. So it can be done volunteer, it can be that, it can be both. Again I like to see this just happen bottom up. Ok?
Ahm, there was something else that sprang to mind at that moment... Oh, “buddy” that was exactly it, thank you, yeah. Buddy system. We found in from the past this is very helpful and I really would ask you to do that, right so why don’t we do it right now. The buddy system is again absolutely not policing, ok? It is a buddy system as in having there is someone else you’re looking, just keeping an eye on. So if they’re not here, it’s not that they’re breaking a rule. I mean, we do ask, as I will show up every single time baring ill health. The half an hour in the morning, the 90 minutes, we’re really I’m asking you please do show up for that. That’s what we are here for, and it’s a sense of commitment to the whole group. Ok? So baring ill health, or something like that or emergency, of course, we’re very flexible there, but we do ask you on a very regular basis to make a commitment to come to the morning and afternoon sessions. That’s it, two hours a day, is the only commitment. And then coming to the interviews, because I really want to get to know you and be of as much service as I can to you. But in the same spirit of just being in a spirit of spiritual friendship we found it very helpful in the past to have a buddy system, and so that you just keep an eye open that during the morning, the afternoon sessions, if your buddy isn’t here then it’s absolutely again I just want to emphasize it, it’s not - oh that you go there and shake your finger, you know, “why didn’t you show up?”. You go there and say “oh, do you need any help, are you ill, are you getting all the attention you need? In any way I can be of help to you?”. So it’s just kind of really looking after each other. And so if someone isn’t here, then the buddy can tell me “oh, this person isn’t here today” and it could be a one liner - ill health, or a family issue came up, or needed to go, just whatever it is. And there are all kinds of good reasons, perfectly legitimate reasons for skipping, just not for casual reasons. So then, so we’re just kind of all know of this. So right now, why don’t you choose, ‘cause this is logistics. Some of you are partners, some of you are good friends, siblings and so forth. But it’s your call. But if you would now choose..no, actually how did we do this in the past? I think maybe it’s not even here, you just do it on your own time. But by tomorrow if you can maybe have a signup sheet or just agree amongst yourself, but everybody paired off, so that somebody is looking after you as you are looking after them. It’s a really good deal, it’s a very nice thing to do, ok? So, I think we’re finished with that. Anything else about content or logistics?
[37:51] Ok, good. So what I’d like to do now is again, we’re, it’s now just 7:35, so a minute or two, so not long soliloquy but more than just you know data. Name, country, dharma background, basically whatever you’d like to share for a minute or two, and then as soon as possible we’ll learn each other’s first names, that will be a top priority for me, very quickly. So we’ll start and I’m just gonna sweep here like a fan. So we’ll start… oh yeah we’ll have a floating microphone here. And as the microphone goes to Danny I just want to welcome also we have just a 40 people here, but in the past we have had actually hundreds of people listening, participating in the retreat sometimes more or less in real time. Often people will listen to the teachings, guided meditations. Sometimes while driving, not the meditation so much, but the talks and so forth. So I want to welcome everybody [who] is listening by podcast, you are certainly welcome. And I’m delighted that thanks to the one young participant in the first retreat we had 3 years ago, Daniel, I think you might know him, he was one who came up with this bright idea and it’s actually helped thousands and thousands of people since then. It blew us away in the first retreat, what was it, it was something like 40, I don’t know, 40 cities, maybe it was 40 countries. It was an awful lot of people that signed up. But that does remind me of one more thing - Danny has very kindly agreed to look after the audio system here, and also the whole, the uploading onto the internet, and Sangay is taking care of this from Santa Barbara side. And two of you already very kindly agreed on a voluntary basis to write up a fairly concise synopsis of each day. This is very very helpful for the people listening in the podcast, so they are not just going in blind, right? The more the merrier, if we had 6 people for example that volunteer, then each one person would just have a little bit of work one day a week, to write up a synopsis then you turn it over to Danny, he sends of to Sangay, and soon it is put up on the web, both iTunes and the Apple Store I think, it’s all free of course. That people can read the synopsis, get kind of a flavour of what the meditations were, the gist of the talk and then discussions. Just, but whatever, it was done so nicely the very first time. Daniel put great enthusiasm into it. And last year I noticed also, they’re really very very helpful. So if anybody else apart from the 2 people who’ve already volunteered, if you’d like to do so just, maybe if we had 6 again it would just be one time a week. That would be very helpful, you literally will be helping hundreds hundreds of people kind of make sense of the whole progression of these teachings. So, you might want to let Danny know, if you would let Danny know, if anybody else like to volunteer. You will need to right in English. But that’s the only requirement. Ok. So for the time being I think that covers all the main points. [40:50]
Transcribed by Kate Skai
Revised by Rafael carlos Giusti
Final edition by Cheri Langston