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Dear Dharma Friends,
Aspens gnarly trunks
Warm greetings from Taos on a beautiful northern New Mexico fall day.  This month our issue features an interview with long-time Mountain Hermitage friend & supporter Jean Smith.  Jean has been involved with the Hermitage from the very beginning... her energy & dedication have been central in shaping our mission and moving it forward.  For many years, Jean headed our board of directors. Her wisdom guided many board meetings, through discussions often inspired and sometime difficult. The Mountain Hermitage is grateful to Jean for all she has done to make it possible for us to offer our retreats and share the Dharma with so many dedicated practitioners over the years.  A deep bow to you, Jean, from all of us!
                      with metta, Marcia Rose, The Mountain Hermitage Guiding Teacher
"... in the footprint of the Buddha..."
with Marcia Rose & Nikki Mirghafori

November 1-18, 2014
at San Geronimo Lodge in Taos
Please contact TMH office re: available space... 

This two and a half week Samatha/ Concentration retreat for experienced Dhamma students will offer guidance for the development and nurturing of  deep concentration leading towards Jhana in the lineage of  Burmese  meditation master Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw. The small group size at
Mountain Hermitage retreats (a maximum of 15 students  for this one) helps create a more intimate experience and easier access to teachers.
Sliding Scale Fee for 18 days: 
(low) $1,625 (actual cost) $1,775
(benefactor) $1,925 
Additional Scholarship support available -
application required


Jean Smith talks with TMH staff member Kathy Lyons....
K: Would you speak about your relationship to The Mountain Hermitage?

J: Yes. When Marcia Rose first had a vision for The Mountain Hermitage, she talked with me about it and asked me if I wanted to be a part of it. I was so taken with the idea of making the Dharma accessible to all kinds of people in a beautiful, intimate setting with good teachers and a good relationship to nature. So I wanted to be part of it... and after I went to my first Mountain Hermitage retreats, I never left it. That was at least 10 years ago, it may have been 12, but it's a good long while.


K: Were you involved with the Dharma before?

J: I was. I got involved with the Dharma when I was young. Sort of in a romance with "The Jean Smith with Sophie Dharma Bums" and Zen Buddhism and that sort of thing. Then when I was in my early 40's, I had an experience that got me involved in the Dharma from the neck down - it made that 18 inch drop from my head to my heart, so that I then had a heart-mind, whereas before I had only had a head. That experience was trekking in the Himalayas, coming into a very small village, and sitting for a couple of hours with a woman who was weaving. She was so completely mindful and involved in what she was doing... and I realized, "Wait a minute. This is a way of life. This is a way of relating to the world around you." I knew then that she had something that I wanted, although I didn't quite understand it at that point.


K: Was she a Tibetan Buddhist or Nepalese?

J: We were near the Tibetan border in Nepal. What I found in these small isolated villages was that people didn't necessarily know what a Buddhist is. They knew who the Dalai Lama is, but they didn't specifically identify themselves as Buddhist. There were some small gompas, some small monasteries, and they sometimes went to ceremonies there. But this was absolutely a way of life rather than something that would be called Buddhism. I think most telling was when I learned that these people had no word for "thank you." You did what you were expected to do and it was beyond them. They could not imagine why anybody would thank anybody for doing these things that they ought to be doing anyway. And that, too, gave me an idea that there was something here that I wanted to know about. I wanted to be like that when I "grew up."


I came back to this country and did what I always do - which was read every book I could find on the subject - which didn't do me a whole lot. So then I started sitting, practicing meditation, going on retreats... and very, very slowly it moved into my heart-mind to the point that the Dharma became part of me at an absolute cellular level.


K: Were you in New Mexico during this period?

J: No, I was living in New York City and mostly I went for retreats up to the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA. My main teachers there were Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzburg, and also Sylvia Boorstein. I went on retreats as many times a year as I could get up there.


K: What were you doing in your other life?

J: My other life, I was in publishing... primarily college textbooks and humanities subjects. But I was also beginning to do some writing and some publishing on my own. And when I reached retirement, much earlier than I should have, I decided that I wanted to write the books. So I began, first of all, to edit books on Buddhism and then eventually to write books on Buddhism. Over a period of 30 years, I've published 10 books on Buddhism.


K: What makes you stick to the Dharma? You say it's in your cells now, so I can imagine...

J: It's definitely at the cellular level. It just simply made so much sense. There were so many metaphysical concepts and religious concepts out there, whereas the Dharma was just absolutely practical. And when I began to ask my major question -- which was "What does this have to do with me?" - I always got an answer...and I always felt as if I had come home. And when I am involved with the Dharma, I am at home.


K: Any advice that you might give to beginning students? 

J: I would say to get a tangerine and eat it mindfully. Because when you do that, when you peel it and see what it looks like and smells like and feels like, on the outside and the inside, when you break off a section and put it in your mouth, but don't chew it yet... you suddenly discover that your tongue is doing very strange things. When you go through this and eat a tangerine this way, you'll suddenly say something like: "I don't think I've ever eaten a tangerine before!" or "Where did you get these tangerines?" And you really get the idea that - just as that tangerine tastes, looks, smells, better than any tangerine you've ever had - you can realize that your entire life can be a tangerine.


K: That's wonderful. I don't know if you wanted to add anything else for our readers?

 J: Yes... being able to go on Mountain Hermitage retreats has been one of the greatest blessings for me in the last 10 years because I found that I could practice in a way that was very much unstructured. My practice could take the shape that it needed to on any given day. I found these retreats infinitely more fulfilling than any retreat that I have ever been on, and I want them to be available to everyone.


Jean's latest book "Life is Spiritual Practice: Happiness through the 10 Perfections" is coming out in February 2015 from Wisdom Publications. For information on her other books, you can go to her website

Looking ahead to 2015...
Marcia2 cropped more April 12 - May 10, 2015  ONE-MONTH SPRING HERMITAGE RETREAT with Marcia Rose

June 27 - July 3, 2015  FINDING FREEDOM THROUGH INSIGHT MEDITATION  with Brian Lesage

  August 16 - 25, 2015  MANIFESTING SPIRITUAL ASPIRATION BY DEEPENING PRACTICE: People Of Color Retreat For Experienced Students
with Gina Sharpe & Larry Yang

 November 13 - 20, 2015 LISTENING, CONTEMPLATITenzin Jesse cropped closeON, and  MEDITATION:  A Study Retreat on The Art and Practice of Loving
 with Ven. Dhammadinna &  Tenzin Jesse

All 2015 Hermitage retreats will
be held at the Columbine Inn, situated at 9,000 feet among tall pines in a mountain setting at the beautiful Taos Ski Valley. 

You can view photos from
previous Hermitage retreats on our website...
Please don't forget...
Begging bowl   ...we always need donations to help with operating expenses & to support  those who  would not be able to attend Mountain Hermitage retreats without financial help.    NforG DONATE NOW BUTTON
                  THANK YOU!                   
We are also deeply grateful to those who offer their dana to The Mountain Hermitage year after year through vital volunteer work that
Seated Buddha statue with flowers
enables us to continue our retreats. 
We invite you to visit us on Facebook.  
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For more information on all these retreats, you can contact us....
(575) 758-0633 or
Taos Mountain Evening
Limited scholarship support available for all of our retreats. Application Necessary.
Extensive information on the website:

May our practice serve towards the welfare, the happiness & the awakening of all beings.
Tuan lotus reflection
"We have to study (the Dharma)
with our warm heart,
not just with our brain." 
~Shunryu Suzuki