Fall unfolds with its blessings and bounty, I am reflecting on the mission of
the Mountain Hermitage, now looking forward to its sixth year. Peace
in the world begins with peace in our own mind and heart - and wise and
compassionate action in the world arises from wisdom and compassion within
ourselves. From our mission comes
our steadfast purpose - to offer the Buddha's teachings through extended
meditation retreats that support spiritual seekers in their search for
truth. We know from practitioners
themselves that each person's meditation practice ripples out, touching many
lives and bearing fruits that make a difference in the world.
That is the ground from which The Mountain Hermitage springs, and it
is the energetic force that has created this, our first E-Newsletter,
reflecting the commitment of all of us here at the Hermitage to support and enhance each person's awareness of the
deepest truths - to understand the truth of suffering and the liberation from
it available to us all. We hope you will
enjoy the Newsletter.In This Issue:
Hermitage Adapts to Economic Change
Call for Scholarship Funding
Filled with Light! -- 2009-2010 Retreats Schedule/Description
Reflections on Practice:
Sayadaw Vivekananda on Patience
Guiding Teacher Marcia Rose on Compassion
Stories from Three Light-filled Retreats:
Self/ No-Self and the Creative Process -- Five Yogis Write and Draw
The Annual Spring Retreat -- "A Deep, Full, Rich Experience"
Vipassana Retreat w/Sayadaw Vivekananda & Marcia Rose -- "A Blending of Many Energies"
Free Dharma Offerings
Closing Words & Contact Information
Core Mission Remains Strong
beating heart has proven resilient and strong over five momentous years marked
by success, struggle, and always a fierce commitment to fulfilling its core
mission -- to offer the teachings of the
Buddha and Buddhist meditation retreats to as many committed and interested Dharma
students as possible. As the
Hermitage moves into its sixth year, it looks back and counts 14 retreats
serving more than 253 yogis; a development campaign that left no stone unturned
before the deepening recession forced its abandonment; and a growing presence
that continues to attract more practitioners to its offerings.
For five years, the Hermitage has been a
movable feast. It has occupied the
lovely historic San Geronimo Lodge for its first five annual spring retreats
and its first Self/No-Self and the Creative Process Retreat. It has moved to the Vallecitos Mountain Refuge
in northern New Mexico and Synergia Ranch near
Santa Fe, NM
for retreats with the Sayadaw Vivekananda.
And every year it calls the beautiful Mabel Dodge Luhan House, a generous
co-sponsor, its home for at least one retreat, as it will do again this year
for the Metta-Upekkha/LovingKindness-Equanimity Retreat.
As we move into 2010, another set of
hard, wise choices faces the Hermitage Board. The effects of the economic
crisis continue. Although a strong base
of philanthropic donors continues to undergird the Hermitage operations,
resources are scant. And the Foundation
scholarship funding that the Hermitage
many Dharma students have enjoyed for its first five years will be reduced in
No matter the economic downturn, we see a
bright, energetic and continuing life for the Mountain Hermitage. Our core mission remains strong, the
commitment of an expanding circle of loyal friends and a hard-working Board is
unwavering, and the shepherding of a wise and experienced guiding teacher
combine for a positive outlook through 2010 and beyond.
|With this issue, the Hermitage moves from the print edition of the Newsletter to this E-edition, offering greater flexibility, opportunity to reach a wider range of practitioners and seekers, including photographs and contributions from attending students, and a cost-saving that is critical to the life of the Hermitage.
In these difficult times, practice opportunities -- deeply cherished by so many, and more difficult than ever to afford -- cannot be subsidized without additional philanthropic dollars from individual friends and supporters.
Will you be one of them? The Hermitage will need $12,000 in donations to continue to offer scholarship aid at our current levels and to support general Hermitage operations for the 2010 Annual Spring Retreat, the Wise Concentration Retreat, and the Self-No Self and the Creative Process retreat. Our operating expenses include a modest facility rental, small stipends for teachers and retreat personnel, travel/food for retreat teachers and manager, and office expenses.
A gift of any amount will be received with utmost gratitude, and will help the Hermitage weather the economic storm and continue to offer the many ways we are dedicated to bringing the Dharma to the world. Go to www.mountainhermitage.org and click on the How You Can Help button for more information.
November 14-21, 2009: METTA-UPEKKHA/LOVINGKINDNESS- EQUANIMITY RETREAT with Marcia Rose (co-sponsored by The Mountain Hermitage & Mabel Dodge Luhan House) at Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, NM.
For registration contact: Mabel Dodge Luhan House , 240 Morada Lane Taos, NM 87571 Email: mabel@MabelDodgeLuhan.com Phone: 575-751-9686 or 1-800-846-2235 On the Web: www.mabeldodgeluhan.com
- April 6-May 4, 2010: ONE-MONTH OR TWO-WEEK HERMITAGE RETREAT CONCENTRATION and/or INSIGHT: with Marcia Rose at San Geronimo Lodge in Taos, NM.
- November 5 - 7, 2010: WISE CONCENTRATION RETREAT: with Marcia Rose at San Geronimo Lodge in Taos, NM.
- November 8 - 22, 2010: SELF/NO-SELF AND THE CREATIVE PROCESS RETREAT with Marcia Rose, assisted by dance artist to be announced and writer Sean Murphy at San Geronimo Lodge in Taos.
Go to www.mountainhermitage.org and click on Retreat and Event Schedule for Introduction, Guidelines,
Registration and Scholarship Forms for the above three retreats.
"It is in this way that we should train ourselves:
- METTA - UPEKKHA/LOVINGKINDNESS - EQUANIMITY RETREAT.
by liberation of the self through love.
We will develop love, we will practice it,
we will make it both a way and a basis,
take our stand upon it, store it up,
and thoroughly set it going."
-- The Buddha from the Samyutta Nikaya
"Equanimity is the fearlessness, great strength, and balance of the mind and heart to experience all
kinds of change. Equanimity is the equilibrium, the equipoise between the opposing forces in the mind
of the desired and the undesired, with equanimity offsetting the weightiness of greed and aversion. It
is that point of balance in the middle of the see-saw of life."
-- Marcia Rose
The retreat begins with the teachings and practice of Metta/LovingKindness, bringing focus and steadiness to our hearts and minds and strengthening our fundamental interconnectedness with all of life. With Metta as our ground, the retreat will gradually move toward the teaching and practice of Upekkha/Equanimity, which develops clear seeing and knowing, acceptance and balance of mind. This retreat is open to both beginning and experienced students and will include sitting and walking meditation with clear instructions, evening Dharma talks, and small group and individual meetings with the teacher.
This retreat for experienced Dharma students will offer the opportunity for intensive concentration practice that may lead to Jhana, in the lineage of Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw, as well as intensive Insight/Vipassana practice. In consultation with the teacher students will decide upon a course of practice that may be directed specifically towards Concentration/Jhana practice or Insight/Vipassana practice or some combination of the two. The retreat includes three to four Dharma talks per week and individual practice interviews with the teacher every two to three days.
- ONE-MONTH OR TWO-WEEK HERMITAGE RETREAT.
Please see The Mountain Hermitage website for more details about participant requirements and the daily schedule for this retreat.
This three-day retreat will offer an introduction to and support for the practice of concentration (Samadhi) as taught by Burmese meditation master Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw. As we cultivate concentration, purification, a clearly focused attention, tranquility, joy and equanimity begin to blossom within deepening states of Samadhi/concentration. These qualities prepare the ground for a deeply penetrating insight into the nature of existence.
- WISE CONCENTRATION RETREAT.
This retreat for experienced Dharma students explores the flow of creative energy in relationship to "self-view" via Authentic Movement and Contact Improvisation, seeing/drawing, and writing. Retreatants need not have had any experience with these creative modalities.
- SELF/NO-SELF AND THE CREATIVE PROCESS RETREAT.
Please see The Mountain Hermitage website for more details about this retreat.
Marcia Rose and
writing teacher Sean Murphy,
Sayadaw Vivekananda on Patience
"Patience is a blessing to human beings and is the best moral practice."
-- The Buddha (Mangala Sutta; Dhp. v. 184)
"Patience leads to Nibbana"
-- Burmese saying
Patience is required in performing acts of generosity, in observing precepts, and in the field of mental development (bhavana). In meditation when we observe a pain that is gradually intensifying we tend to get annoyed. This annoyance may easily turn into irritation and restlessness. We start fidgeting, we change our sitting posture. We might even ask ourselves: Why do we have to sit still in meditation and observe this pain? This seems like a futile exercise. With this we have just missed a wonderful opportunity to gain intuitive wisdom. If we were to observe that same pain with some patience we could learn many things from it, such as seeing its inherent quality, its fascinating changes, and even its eventual dissolution.
When we are remembering some undesirable event of the past we may want to push it away and rather not observe it. Once again, wisdom cannot arise. Here too, patience will make a big difference. When we accept and observe the undesirable event of the past as an object of observation we get to know it, what it feels like in the mind, and eventually we might even come to terms with it.
Satipatthana meditation could be described as a process of developing ever greater levels of patience. At the outset of our meditation journey we easily get impatient with undesirable, and at times even with desirable objects. As the meditation practice is full of challenges this will give us ample opportunity to grow more and more patient. After being very diligent for quite some time, on occasion our meditation practice may collapse. At such a point again we need patience with the situation and just accept what has happened and start all over again. Sooner or later, in the presence of mindfulness and patience, we are bound to succeed and gain nibbana. Hence, the Burmese saying "Patience leads to Nibbana" very much applies to the meditation practice.
The patience gained from intensive or regular meditation at home will come in good stead in our daily life when we have to deal with the imperfections of ourselves and others. Others' speech may be timely or untimely, true or untrue, gentle or harsh, connected with good or with harm, spoken with a mind of loving-kindness or with inner hate. Whatever others might be saying, we need to abide in patience, compassion, and loving-kindness.
In the context of the Abhidhamma patience and other positive mental qualities like loving-kindness, gentleness, and amity are various aspects of the mental state of non-hatred (adosa). The commentary to the Cariyapitaka defines patience as follows: It has the characteristic of acceptance; its function is to endure the desirable and the undesirable; its manifestation is tolerance or non-opposition; seeing things as they really are is its proximate cause. In the texts patience is much extolled as a blessing to human beings and as the best moral practice (Mangala Sutta; Dhp. v. 184).
NOTE: In April of 2011 Sayadaw Vivekananda and Marcia Rose will be offering a month-long Vipassana Retreat at the San Geronimo Lodge in Taos, New Mexico
Guiding Teacher Marcia Rose on Compassion
"My continuing passion is to part a curtain -- that invisible veil of indifference that falls between us and that blinds us to each other's presence, each other's wonder, each other's human plight."
-- Eudora Welty, American author and photographer
"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy,
-- Dalai Lama
There is an image in Tibetan Buddhism that represents the awakened energy of unconditional, boundless compassion. It is an image of a Bodhisatta often depicted as having 1,000 arms outstretched and 1,000 eyes -- an eye painted in the palm of each outstretched hand, 1,000 eyes to see all the suffering in the world, and 1,000 arms reaching out to help.
Compassion is the heart beat of the Buddha's teaching. It may be experienced as the trembling or the quivering of the heart in response to pain -one's own pain or another's. Compassion is a very tender, open state and at the same time a place within us of great strength -- tenderness, openness and strength -- enabling us to stay present with whatever is happening within our own bodies and minds and with what is going on around us without becoming overwhelmed.
The practice and the unfolding of compassion are challenging, which means that we take to heart the Buddha's words, "I teach one thing and one thing only - suffering and the end of suffering." The practice of compassion asks us to gently maintain our awareness of suffering. Most of us are strongly habituated to sweep discomfort away, to sweep dis-ease "under the rug", to hide it away in a metaphoric closet. Or, we hide ourselves away by shutting off, going to sleep or distracting ourselves. We might ignore or trivialize suffering so we don't see the pain of others in the world -- or experience our own pain and suffering.
Through the purification of the heart and mind that practice brings, we gradually turn our developing capacity for heart-full, unconditional acceptance towards suffering. We are then able to open to it with understanding and courage and move towards its alleviation. Unconditional compassion, our heartfelt connection to beings and our way of being in this world, arises out of a clear, deep seeing and understanding of suffering, its root cause and the way of its end.
Unconditional, boundless compassion is one of the wings of awakening with which we fly free.
NOTE: To listen to, download, or to order a CD of Marcia's complete and most recent Dharma talk on compassion go to www.mountainhermitage.org Dharma Talk page: June 2009 One-Month Hermitage Retreat with Sayadaw Vivekananda and Marcia Rose
Gratitude -- Deepest Joy -- Enhanced Practice -- The Dharma
Carried into the World.
Self/No-Self and the Creative Process
"When we speak of Nature it is wrong to forget that we are ourselves a part of Nature. We ought to view ourselves with the same curiosity and openness with which we study a tree, the sky or a thought, because we too are linked to the entire universe."
-- Henri Matisse
From February 13-27, 2009, 12 yogis convened at the San Geronimo Lodge in Taos, NM for a unique retreat offering, grounded in the Vipassana teachings and practices and oriented toward investigating Self/No-Self in relationship to the creative process. For many it was a bright awakening. Here are some of their stories and creative offerings:
An artist writes --
"When I first signed up for the retreat, I was hesitant and not looking forward to the body movement modality, and was most excited about the drawing and writing components. However, interwoven with Marcia's guidance and the teachings in the body movement session, a greater understanding of the transformative powers of the heart began to unfold."
"With greater awareness of the body, a new intimate relationship with the body has brought forth a new meaning of taking refuge in the three jewels, and yes, the body movement modality."
A poet writes --
"The retreat revived my interest in the written word and its connection with both the Self and No-self -- and of course "seeing" will never be the same again!"
"I hope that a retreat of this nature will be offered again - I can't sing its praises loudly enough."
Crouched over the flowering pine,
pencil poised to draw,
tingles of shock arise,
seeing no end
to the changing patterns
encrypted within a single cone.
Filament of Grass
A delicate dance of light on curling winter grass
catches mind's attention.
to simply see
the play of moments,
mind darts out
to make a moment 'mine.'
the burning is so sharp and fast,
the mind recoils.
what danger to believe
a moment can be held.
there is no peace in wanting.
The unlocked door --
"It becomes experientially apparent that laughter loosens me up, making me so pliable that I am no longer me -- in that transformation a door unlocks, a door I can suddenly, surprisingly pass through. On the other side is now and no-self. In this retreat the door has been unlocked - the lock removed, in fact."
Jet trails cross blue sky
Chill upon a subtle breeze
Bridging Practice into Life
On moving --
"Moving with eyes closed, despite there being witnesses watching with open eyes, I found it surprisingly easy to let go of the self. It was as if the movement itself would take over.
The attention was so fully inside the movement that the internal witness went off duty."
On drawing --
"My eyes began to thrill upon seeing any and every object in front of them - as if I was constantly drawing in my mind, whether my eyes were open or closed. It was quite tricky to handle the energy and constancy of this. I was often awake every 20 minutes all night long with this unstoppable process of seeing."
On writing --
"This is the modality I'm least comfortable and experienced in. I was truly amazed at how big the self was - the one who wants others to think well of her, how powerful. I'd like to think that coming really present with that experience might increase my willingness to step out of my comfort zone.
"How many opportunities do I miss because I don't want to risk the burn of self-consciousness?"
When the rubber hits the road --
"The retreat was exactly what I'd signed up for - to bridge my practice into my life. It allowed me to see where my practice really was 'when the rubber hit the road.' I didn't always like what I saw, but it was very informative and very real."
Just Seeing -- Just Hearing -- Just Moving
"Thank you very much for the eye-opening (literally) retreat. I see more, more clearly, and in more detail. And I hold the story of myself more loosely, with less investment in it, considering it more as a story than a gripping reality. Not taking the ever-changing story of the self so seriously.
"I'm still digesting and appreciating the experience. There's something about it I have yet to put into words - something about getting closer to just seeing, just hearing, just moving -- about experiencing the world and myself more clearly and directly."
With the generous support of Hermitage friends like you we will be able to offer this retreat again in November of 2010. Please go to www.mountainhermitage.org, and click on How You Can Help for more information.
The Fifth Annual Spring Retreat
In April 2009, 15 yogis, many the grateful recipients of scholarship aid, came to the lovely San Geronimo Lodge in Taos, NM for the fifth annual Spring retreat, taught by Guiding Teacher Marcia Rose and returning Visiting Teacher Annie Nugent. Many wrote light-filled letters and offered fresh insights gained during the retreat experience.
The heavenly messengers --
"I was fascinated by this ancient tree on San Geronimo road with parts of it old, dying and dead and parts springing into new life. All the 'heavenly messengers' in various stages in one tree! It had its first fully opened blossom the day before the retreat ended.
"Thank you for a most nourishing retreat--"
A deep, full, rich experience --
"I have been a Buddhist for 35 years and have attended numerous retreats in Theravadin, Zen and Vajrayana traditions. However, this retreat was unique in several respects. Its duration of 14-28 days, the balance between opportunity for self-retreat and using retreat schedule guidelines, the maturity of practitioners and, finally, the not-too-loose or not-too-tight container allowed for a deep, full, rich retreat experience allowing me to reconnect with and deepen my practice. "
breath comes and goes
between melting spring snow
forgetting the I
recalling the breath
with each bite of
forgetting the I
recalling the breath
no start no finish
Taos moon watches
Worth every minute --
"No particular thought can be the mind's natural state, only silence. When the mind is in its natural state it reverts to silence spontaneously after every experience or, rather, every experience happens against the background of silence."
"For me, it was worth every minute. The quote from Nisargadatta sums up my retreat and post-retreat experience beautifully."
Come join us in April of 2010!
Go to www.mountainhermitage.org and click on Retreat and Event Schedule for Introduction, Guidelines, Registration and Scholarship Forms.
June Vipassana Retreat with Sayadaw Vivekananda
Progress was inevitable!
Synergia Ranch in the Santa Fe, NM area welcomed 23 yogis to a month-long Vipassana retreat in June, 2009. Co-taught by Sayadaw Vivekananda, a German Theravada monk and resident teacher/Abbot at Panditarama in Nepal, a Theravada-Mahasi retreat center, and Hermitage Guiding Teacher Marcia Rose.
A retreat participant writes:
Synergia Ranch appeared a perfect fit for the retreat. An organic orchard provided camping spots and comfortable adobe buildings provided shelter for meditators of all ages.
Sometimes challenged by the random appearance of large bull snakes and red racers, wild winds, buzzing insects, and our own minds, we were steadfastly supported by the wisdom and compassion of teacher Marcia Rose and Sayadaw Vivekananda through daily interviews and Dhamma talks. With the additional support of fellow meditators, scrumptious vegetarian meals, expansive vistas, spectacular sunsets, star-filled night skies, and the seemingly endless patience of retreat manager Chris Clifford, progress was inevitable!
During one Dhamma talk, the hall darkened, thunder boomed, and then enormous raindrops began slapping all around us, progressively landing faster and faster until the din was ear shattering and the roof leaking. Each time the din increased, so did Marcia's voice, as she calmly continued her talk. Later, as we mindfully walked out into the clear evening calm, not a sign of moisture remained, already evaporated into the dry, dry air. Our surroundings, like the practice itself, kept changing.
In the closing circle Sayadaw Vivekananda eloquently observed how the blending of many energies had benefited our practice: the Eastern wisdom of the Buddha flowering in this uniquely Western setting, the personality styles of the two teachers balancing and supporting the teachings, the quiet natural beauty of our surroundings, and the comfortable acceptance of the local creatures sharing their space with us (as the days passed, the wild rabbit population began feeling safe enough to forage for food near the feet of slowly moving yogis).
The last day, as we packed up and went our separate ways, much gratitude was expressed and many were hoping to share such synergy again soon.
Without the generous help of all of our friends, the Hermitage will be hard-pressed to offer retreats like this. Please visit www.mountainhermitage.org and click on How You Can Help for more information.
Go to www.mountainhermitage.org, and click on Dharma Talks for free downloads of talks and guided sits from the last two years of Mountain Hermitage retreats. CDs may be ordered on a dana basis. Our cost is $4.50. Hermitage Dharma Talks are also available through the web on I-Tunes.
For Marcia Rose's international teaching schedule, click on Guiding Teacher.
"If we are patient, determined, diligent, and at the same time relaxed in our practice - it is inevitable that joy increases, peace increases; that wisdom increases. It is inevitable that our ability to live a beneficial and compassionate life increases."
-- Marcia Rose
Thank you for your interest in The Mountain Hermitage. Your thoughts and comments are always welcome - and we would be delighted if you would forward this newsletter on to friends.