Press Room

Five-day Retreat with Rinpoche in New York State

The five day retreat this May was an unforgettable time – five days together with Rinpoche and Khenchen Rinpoche in the simple yet freshly transformed UTBF Retreat Center in Cochecton, New York, under the northern spring sun. From May 23 to 28, 2008, the first ever group retreat in the U.S. under Rinpoche's direct guidance took place.


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There were forty-three participants of the full program, as well as several additional participants in the one-day program with Vesak celebration which was open to non-retreatants (a continuation of the annual one-day Vesak celebrations that Rinpoche has been holding for many years now).

This was also the first retreat with a new comprehensive series of teachings designed by Rinpoche, with the title "Discovering the Dharma". The program progresses through fifteen subject areas covering major topics in Mayahana Buddism. In this first introduction of the program, Rinpoche talked extensively on how to meditate, focusing on shamata meditation – calming and steadying the mind toward a single point of concentration.

Hand in glove with shamata meditation practices are the practice of loving kindness and compassion. These in turn support one's development of Boddhicitta – the desire to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all living beings. And so, the five-day retreat concentrated equally on practices to develop these important qualities within each person. Within this framework, the key points of mental purification – traditionally named “Lojong” - were introduced, along with a number of skills and tips for daily practice to bring home. These instructions form the basis – the foundation – for rapid development in the path of mental awareness that ultimately leads to enlightenment.

Overall, five topics among the fifteen were covered in the retreat. These were: The Mind – Cultivate Positive Energy, How to Meditate – Enhance Concentration and Calm our Mind, Mental Purification – Uncover Attachments and Learn to Let Go, Taking Refuge – Give Yourself the Gift of Commitment to Practice, and Daily Practice – Establish Consistency and Skills to be Successful.

Ample time was given for sitting and walking meditation. The participants exchanged their experience in meditation and understanding of the teachings through group discussions at the end of each day.

Bart Mendel, the appointed "MC" for the retreat made the following comments during one of the sessions: "In many ways this is a momentous occasion. It represents the decades of work by Rinpoche preparing to teach students in the US." Indeed, it was momentous – and very powerful. It was clear from the energy and interactions of the participants that these five days had a significant effect on all.

The retreat brought together students from around the world. Rinpoche's students came from as far away as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Seattle and Miami. It also showed how much can be achieved preparing and facilitating such an event in a short time when a handful of dedicated volunteers work together.

We thank Rinpoche for this remarkable event – and for the many blessings bestowed on all.

Comments

One Prayer to Share

The sole medicine for the suffering of all beings,
And the source of all happiness,
May the Buddhadharma be upheld, honored and remain,
For a very long time.

- Shantideva (India, 8th Century)

Retreat worth repeat

Yes, the retreat was an amazing educational experience. I cannot imagine what would keep me from attending the next one!

Slow but steady progress

The weeks following the retreat were wonderful as I felt my practice expand. Like many things in life you can take on too much – and I did. When the stress of work and daily life kicked in; my mind started returning to its usual tricks. That’s when Rinpoche’s structured and step by step instructions stood firm. I was able to recall what I was taught. As an adult learner - that’s a really big deal.

I now practice Shamata with a growing confidence. I have a better understanding of the barriers and can apply antidotes; a lot less panic and confusion and more curiosity… and progress is measurable. If I skip a day or practice less I notice the loss in my behavior and thoughts. Though I have not worked the Lojong and Compassion meditation into my daily regimen - I find myself relying on it when things get tough and negative situations and thoughts occur in real time. It’s a great one-two punch to train the mind. Thank you Rinpoche for all the thought and care you put into how we were taught. My goal, like many others, is to be prepared for the next Retreat.

As a member of the Retreat Center Staff, it was great to spend time with everyone. Many of you have returned for short retreats. Thank you for your generosity and friendship.

Amazing Experience

And much homework, indeed. Discovering the Dharma has revolutionized my shamatha practice, and left me with little doubt that i will be fully prepared by the Rinpoche's of the UTBF for in-depth tantric teachings/practices when the time arrives.

As much as this retreat has helped my meditation, it has helped my daily samsaric life even more. The kleshas still hold sway, but not so firmly, and i am able to work with them in daily life much more effectively.

i look forward to the next retreat very very much. Of all the teachers i have observed transmitting the dharma in the west, none even approach Trungram Gyaltrul Rinpoche's capabilities in terms of the level of detail and accuracy exhibited in his instructions. Rinpoche's ability to communicate in the English language is what we in America call "scary-good."

Re:

Yes, I'm looking forward to the next one, too!