Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche even describes boredom as a necessary part of our meditation practice: “Boredom is part of the discipline of meditation practice. This type of boredom is cool boredom, refreshing boredom. Boredom is necessary and you have to work with it. It is constantly very sane and solid, and very boring at the same time. But it’s refreshing boredom. The discipline then becomes part of one’s daily expression of life. Such boredom seems to be absolutely necessary. Cool boredom.”
This is the story of a retreat I did at Karme Choling in the winter of 1977. That retreat was a bone rattling experience for me, but I was too young at the time to fully appreciate how it was going to change my life. Well, here I am on the fortieth anniversary of that retreat, and it certainly did change my life, so it might worth sharing a bit of that story before I fade away.
Most of our life in the world is the mind directed outwards. For most of us, this is how it needs to be, but we know there is this whole inner world of ours that is the foundation for the quality of our entire life, and all our relationships. If that inner life is thriving, healthy, enriched, liberated, illumined, then everything we do gets that benefit.
The first day is not as silent as you might think it would be. The invading noises of bats, jungle, and ocean blend in flurried motion to become that deeper internal silence that negates all commotion. Disturbing isolation becomes a comforting meditation.
Neither wild monkeys, nor snakes or other poisonous animal life could dissuade me from staying in retreat, not even these huge reptiles and the fear they triggered in my mind. But now a larger problem occurred.
I sit in the same seat, staring at the same sky, as I have the last three years, on the bones of the morning, fleshing out with joyful diligence my heart’s expanse, that lucid cognizance, the sun’s rays bring to the sky.
Rather than being caught up in the turmoil of life and overpowered by emotions, losing our own seat and sane judgement, we can always stop and settle our heart and attention in a even state of mind.
A poem about experiences from a three year retreat: Lonely cabin in the pines in front, the boundless sky empty-clarity vast as mind behind, the rising ridge a fortress of fearless confidence vast and held, here I dwell.
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The night was pitch-black, the empty sky littered with countless stars. I lay silently in bed, my mind churning with thoughts. I was at the end of three-year retreat in solitude, meditating alone in a cabin in the woods.
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