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Friday’s agenda: pick up friends truck, filled with meditation cushions for the center; drop off children’s books that a client left in my healing space – on top of Afton mountain at Swannanoa; drive to Maryland, Lama House and Tibetan Meditation Center; talk with Lama – questions about upcoming year
Saturday’s agenda: sit, eat, rest, chant mantras
Sunday’s agenda: see above; give bodywork treatments to monks
Monday’s agenda: rest, discuss Drikung texts that need translating
Arrive at friend’s house, discover the entire back of his truck is full of meditation cushions. His truck is older, so the rear hatch gate on his truck cap is gone. Instead, there was bubblewrap, packing tape keeping it securely in place. Truck is musty, moldy. It is also extremely foggy on Afton mountain… Throw my stuff in the cab… whoa not much room for me…
Starting off, I quickly realize I may be in way over my head. I gun the truck by accident and it sounds like I have never driven a stick before. My friend told me about how the truck struggles to go into reverse… yep, I eventually grind it into place… Ugh! No power steering fluid! OMG! I begin to realize I might be driving a death-trap…
Attempting to navigate the narrow roads around Swannanoa in dense fog, getting lost. Keep in mind the truck bed is full of cushions, and I can neither see through them nor the bubble wrap… Attempting to keep this truck on thin driveway tire tracks as I get stuck in a dead end which I can’t turn around in… Driving in reverse is a nightmare.
I give up and then head up to Maryland. Thankfully there is very little need to stop on interstates, which also means I don’t realize how sluggish the brakes are compared to my car… Hmmm, luckily I did not hit anyone, but did come close later… And they wonder why my kidneys and adrenals are shot? Oh, did I mention the fact that this old truck had limited windshield wiper capacity? Yikes!
Luckily I get the clunker to the Lama House where Khenpo Chophel and Lama Gyaltsen have just returned from doing a sand mandala at a private school – that was a great story in and of itself. The translator is there, so I get to ask her some questions about Tibetan and I eventually help her with some textual phonetics fixes. My main teacher, Drupon Thinley Ningpo is out doing shopping for the upcoming retreat.
I eat dinner with the lamas then head up to the center to welcome any late comers for the retreat weekend. No one shows up for a couple hours, so I unload the truck bed by myself, get a little scraped up but somehow manhandle the huge, bulky boxes of cushions into the foyer of the TMC. Later another fellow arrives and he helps to move them downstairs – thank goodness! Else I might have tried to either carry or roll the boxes down the stairs… Kirby – not smart! Practice self care please 🙂
Sleep well. Saturday: Wake up early, still foggy – it was somehow foggy for 48 – 60 hours straight, strange weather weekend. Trudge down the mountain to the lama house, eat breakfast and start the retreat. Very enjoyable retreat.
Morning session: long meditation on four thoughts that turn the mind toward enlightenment, Mahakala sadhana and mantras, tea break and more mantras. Afternoon session: same sadhana, then Achi protector practice to finish around 4:30 pm. Evening session: Tea offering ceremony to all the many Kagyu protectors.
Sunday: slept downstairs in the TMC basement (bookstore). Pretty certain something was in the other room chewing on stiff cardboard. When I got up with my flashlight to make certain there wasn’t a large rodent nearby, the chewing stopped. But then I lie back down and it resumed. C’est la vie! I think my sleep is affected but oh well. Note to self – next time sleep with other people in the room so there are strength in numbers.
Similar schedule for Sunday except we end around 4 pm so people can get home and start their week. There were seven people total, so a very intimate experience and it seemed like we got personal teachings on tea offering and sang ceremonies.
Lama Gyaltsen does incredible work behind the scenes, always cheerful and modest. I stick around, intending to give bodywork treatments to the lamas, so I help him clean up. I do not realize how much work he does, even for a PDL retreat. But this time he was the cook, the clean up man and he set up the tea station. Plus he vacuumed everything. Whoa! He also entertains me with stories about how he used to practice driving up and down their road, I laugh for at least ten minutes straight as he tells me about strange idioms mechanics and tow truck drivers used to say to him about his beaten practice car.
Monday went well except almost ran out of gas as I discover my debit card has expired… several weeks early? Strange! All in all, a quality, resourceful weekend. Had nice, relaxing time hanging out with and making offerings to the lamas. Somehow they treat me like I am an honored guest – but nothing special about me, rather it is Tibetan hospitality to treat guests like royalty. Wow!
2 thoughts on “Little Mahakala retreat”
Sounds like a busy weekend, but fun. Which Mahakala was it?
Hi Lee, I believe it was four armed black (dark blue) mahakala. Good stuff! ~Kirby