Sunday, December 13, 2009

Practice or Retreat?

During intensive meditation retreats, we practice. We practice sitting without perusing the television or internet. We practice eating without wasting the smallest morsel. We practice walking without music or a cell phone blaring in our ear. We practice a simplified daily routine, happily dedicating ourselves to the most mundane tasks, instead of ignoring them.

When the retreat is over, do we apply this practice to our lives? Or do we jump right back into the fray, doing the very things we just spent two days (or weeks) trying not to do? While these things aren't all inherently bad (especially in moderation), if we spend the next fifty weeks looking forward to escaping them at the next retreat, perhaps we've missed the point.

Are we practicing for life, or retreating from it?

1 comment:

  1. There is the same danger in our daily practice. We can use our daily sittings as a escape or an empty ritual. We can also flee into the mountains, living among white clouds and still ask the same question:
    Are we practicing for life or retreating from it?
    Moreover, we can see the dangers of non-duality and reject it, abide in individuality, and thus retreat from life and perpetuate suffering.
    Too soon, too late.
    There is a koan that asks:
    whatever you do won't do; what do you do?