Strategies for a Peak Retreat Experience:
developed 01-04-2011 at Dhamma Dena following the Monastics' second retreat here
Every complaint must be paid for with chocolate.
Rest is priority number one for staff and visitors alike. Humor lags when rest is neglected. It’s ok, in fact it is important, please get the sleep you need.
Acknowledge, Forgive and Learn (Ajahn Brahm)
Keep your eyes in your own ballpark. (Ven. Madika)
We frequently hear the Buddha quoted saying: "I teach one thing and one thing only, that is, suffering and the end of suffering." For the Monastics at Dhamma Dena and Great Determination it is the goal of our practice to fully attain the end of suffering in ourselves that we may lessen suffering in others. For the time you are here please make that your goal as well. This is not the suffering caused by your likes and dislikes, it is the suffering created by attachment to your preferences. So while you are here please acknowledge and at least temporarily drop the goal of righting the wrongs of the world, drop the goal of being the person who fixes this place up, drop the goal of anything outside of yourself. Keep your eyes in your own ballpark and we will all suffer less.
If there is some aspect of the shelter, food, teaching or people you find any fault with, acknowledge the presence of fault finding (ill will.)You do not need to react. You do not need to do anything. Often the Three Poisons arise to stir up the urge to DO. This keeps them in business. You are on retreat and do not need to DO anything. You will maintain silence unless there is imminent potential for loss of life or limb. If you feel like a pressure cooker about to explode, let off steam by talking with Ven. Madika by appointment in interview only, and considerately and respectfully. The story will keep coming up, it may grow into quite a monster, if you slip and DO something in response to it, acknowledge then that that was fault finding (ill will) and start again. At any point it is possible to start over again with a clean slate, an open heart, a new day.
Keep the Focus Positive: any time fault finding mind is roving about,
use Sensei’s (Ven. Madika's) SUDS to clean it up: SEE, UNPLUG, DROP STORY.
Seek the middle way, not fulfilling your desires and not disciplining yourself to misery. Let it all drop away. Above all, keep your attention on your own mind and behavior. Keep your eyes in your own ballpark, don’t worry about what others around you are doing or experiencing. You are responsible only for yourself.
When a choice of speech, action or livelihood presents itself, remember the best choice is the one that increases wholesome states, becoming more peaceful, gentle, happy and at ease.