Here we are...

Just off the Port Bow—a place of uncertainty, adventure, and insight. Thank you for your ears, eyes and hearts. I hope to bring compassion, grace and beauty to your day.

Holy Silence (Part One)

Recently I attended a seven day silent retreat. The host was Insight Meditation Society, and insight meditation was what it was all about.

The setting was a large country estate, formerly a private home, then a Roman Catholic confraternity center, and, for the past forty years, the site of I.M.S.. It is a beautiful place, which now boasts the dormitory space to house over one hundred retreatants in single rooms.

A friend of mine has written of a charity which once operated in Philadelphia (I believe), called The Home for Hopeless Cases. Writ large over the stately Georgian portico of I.M.S. is a single Pali word "METTA", which means Loving Kindness. Very hopeful!

Yes, there are statues of the Buddha all over the place, and most of the literature has references to Buddhist teaching. What I encountered, however, was only suggestively religious. The title of the retreat was "Your Life is Your Practice".

Let me sum it up:

Live mindfully with yourself in the present, making peace with the past, so that the future can be approached with wisdom.

The mechanics of the retreat are pretty straight forward. You do about eight hours of sitting and walking meditation every day, receive instruction three times a day, eat, and sleep. You mostly have no idea who your fellow yogis (for that is what one is called) are; you only know that they have chosen to spend a week in silent meditation (which does, actually, say a lot). You eat only vegetarian food. Because of the way the buildings are constructed you could spend the entire retreat indoors. Because I.M.S. was once a large country estate the grounds are quite lovely and expansive, located far out on the fringes of Barre. This means nice walking in the quiet farmlands of north central Massachusetts.

One is placed with a group of ten other yogis for three set group interviews with the three teachers. These forty five minute sessions are question and answer times; and it is here that you get a glimpse into the story behind the person meditating on the zabuton mat next to you. If you have a question you might hear yourself speak a few words; the only words you will hear coming out of your mouth in the course of the week. I suppose one could talk to oneself in one's room. I didn't.

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Holy Silence (Part Two)

Mesalliance - Part Two