Reflections on Personal Retreats at SCOL
From the August 2022 Newsletter, several KCC members share reflections on their personal retreats at SCOL in June and July:
Being able to take a week away on our land in the Ponderosa and scrub oak, with views of the Simcoe hills, while comforted by fresh air and renewing whatever practice one has, is a rare opportunity. With the friendship of folks you may already know, the occasional spirited conversation and opportunity for silence within that container, such a retreat is rarer still. As long as KCC has owned this land – which many dedicated folks gave up their personal lives to work hard for, during months or even years – it’s now available to any of us who put a practice plan together. It feels good to be able to do one’s practice as well as one can, even if it’s “only” tonglen, or hours of reading (the SCOL library is extensive), or renewing a long abandoned practice. Each evening everyone meets for recitations. Realizing that you also have access to encouragement from teachers, staff and friends, you come to realize that you’re living a miracle.
Over the years I used to wrestle with the idea of whether I was “good enough” to go on retreat, or if I could afford it, or if it was the best time for me. Sometimes Dave and I would wrestle with the “good enough” aspect just going to KCC on Sundays, and I’d remind myself that that was why I was going to KCC on Sundays. If I wanted to go on a certain retreat, staff worked with me to find ways to pay for it. Could it be, during a time of extremity, with chaos and disillusionment around and within, that now is the best time to go on retreat?
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SCOL – Ser Chö Ösel Ling – of the Clear Light Golden Dharma. No doubt the land sings the praises of the dharma and radiates with the blessings bestowed upon it – not just from Bokar Rinpoche who named the land, but directly from the heart of the guru. It is an absolute gem and feels like coming home. The cool of the evening breeze and crisp clear mornings shifted into hot afternoons. Time for walking, contemplation, prayer, meditation, dharma conversations and silence. Evening aspirations in the shrine room…what a comforting space, open blue sky in the picture window above, or clouds. Sounds of cicada, a woodpecker, pinecones underfoot, the rushing wind. But mostly I am blessed to have this precious human life, and the time, ability, and opportunity to practice. What good fortune has brought me here! The time passed so quickly! Just as I settled into the cushion and into my mind, it was time to head back to the mundane world. But what a joy to experience such a taste and I unhesitatingly make aspirations to return again and again.
We all need a good drink of clean water, it is so very refreshing.
Absorbing Silence at SCOL
Noticing outer silence… Pervasive, reassuring
Like a reminder
Like a warm bath
Noticing inner silence… Yes, it’s there
Trying to relax and sink into it
To rest my noisy weary mind
To clear the path so I can find my way back more easily
Trying to remember to stop trying –
What a great luxury to have so much time for unhurried practice!
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