Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Sound Of Silence

Since today's was going to be the last koan class of the year, with both Paul and Lucy going away this week, we had breakfast at Paul's house afterwards. Talk turned to sesshin, and the different approaches of different traditions; Paul is interested in the way Gil Fronsdal sets up his Vipassana retreats, he and a few people from here having attended one a month or so ago. Simon and I had both heard from someone who just did a retreat with Adyashanti: more than three hundred people, who were instructed not to write a note unless they needed to go to the hospital. Apparently, only one note materialised in the entire week.
I had been meaning to say something about my continued surprise at how many notes landed on my cushion, on my desk, at my door or simply in my hand, almost every time we got up from sitting. It was, I suppose, better than the alternative of having a conversation about each topic. I had also intended to set up this photograph, so this morning I got around to it:


Shonen said...

Hey consider it fan mail... I assume (hope) the majority of them were at least sesshin related.

I always find it interesting what the mind gravitates to when we remove ourselves from the usual distractions and have it follow the breath as its sole source of entertainment. While doing the 3 month retreat at IMS, the bulletin board became the substitute for television - the most inconsequential bit of information posted instantly drew a crowd of silent readers who read and reread it then came back and read it again (myself included).

I just got back from Burma and did 10 days at a monastery in Yangon - not what I was expecting at all - wake up at 3 am, chicken & fish curry for breakfast at 5:30 (not everyday but even once was enough for me), then lunch at 10 and that was it until breakfast the next morning. Last period of sitting was from 10pm - 11 pm, I never made it to 11 but got as close as I could

Shundo said...

Yikes, that regime sounds pretty strenuous, especially with the food offerings. And yes, getting to see the mind craving stimulus; this is why chocolate-covered strawberries can seem like other-worldly manifestations.
Most of the notes were to the point - sickness, kitchen-related, doanryo jobs, but also parking and lost dogs...