Deer Park Retreat 2004, Day 4

2/23/04
10:04 AM

Thay’s talk [yesterday] was not very accessible to those not already familiar with his books. He’s very soft-spoken; better suited to more intimate gatherings than the 1,000 or so people there. Too much singing at the beginning. Some people left before he even began speaking.

In spite of my body trying to doze, I got most of what he had to say. The Q & A with the audience was the best part. Thay was in his element & had the audience in the palm of his hand.

The bus ride each ways was nice. I sat with Stephanie, who has 3 dogs & a husband on 75 acres, & had a wonderful visit. Irvine was sunny, & our picnic lunch on the grass was fun.

It was raining when we got “home,” as I think of Deer Park now. We [my roommates & I] all had tea & talked for a while after dinner, even once we were each in our beds. “Isn’t this cozy, the 5 of us?” asked Trish. And indeed it was. I reconnected to my own gender in a profound way last night. That alone would be worth the trip.

This morning I slept in until 6:40. It’s “lazy day,” & breakfast wasn’t until 7:45. More yummy oatmeal & soy milk. More tasty apples & cheese.

Another Kensho moment at breakfast. This one was temporal rather than spatial. The mindfulness bell chimed & I thought to myself “this moment is the only moment there is.” Suddenly, past & future collapsed inward to the present. There had been no past. There would be no future. There was only this little bit of oatmeal between the roof of my mouth & tongue, the feeling of the chair under my butt, and my breath. Only now, microsecond to microsecond. Then I thought about writing the experience in my journal, thereby creating the idea of “future,” & the moment was gone, slipped into the re-emergent past.

Speaking of food, a major pre-occupation of mind this trip, dinner last night was leftovers & Lee’s sandwiches. We laughed about having subs on retreat. I got to have more of that delicious pasta with black olives that I regretted not taking more of the first time it was offered.

This morning the clouds were clearing, so I went to make friends with the mountain. A wonderful hike in silence, meeting other silent seekers along the way, both monastics & lay people. I found a rocky outcropping hanging out over the valley, & meditated out there until a light rain began to fall. Even then I stayed, listening to an unseen stream far below, until the temperature began dropping. The birds stopped singing, & I took my cue from them & came back down.

4:23 PM
The rest of the morning was spent reading. I’ve done a lot of reading, this far all of it on Zen. I have one Tibetan Buddhist book with me, but I doubt I’ll get to it.

I found a quote I like in my reading today:

See what is.
See what is not.
Follow the way.
-The Dhammapada

Lunch was good. I like this mindful eating thing. Afterwards I got my camera & a snack bar & went up the other side of the monastery. The clouds threatened more rain, & I dared them to do their worst. It comes down to my not minding getting wet. It didn’t rain, but it would have been okay if it had.

About halfway back down I stopped for a snack as I felt my blood sugar dropping. I ate my Slimfast bar mindfully, & Mild Berry Chewy Granola was never so interesting. Another brief epiphany, but this was just the realization that, as one of Buddha’s disciples said, “I know that I am eating.” (He actually said, “We know when we are eating.”) Okay, it was actually pretty damned profound in the moment in which it occurred, & there was no other moment, which was part of the revelation.

I hiked for nearly 3 hours this afternoon, after hiking about 1 1/2 to 2 this morning. Now I’m going to read for 2 hours until dinner.

One more thing…I miss Tony [my boyfriend at the time]. I almost cratered & called him last night. But it’s important to me to stay focused. Which doesn’t necessarily preclude calling him, but probably will.

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