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It may be a bit premature in writing about this topic, as a mere five days have passed. And actually, not counting the sleepless day of transit from New York to Virginia, this is my first day off of work… So, I have had to take little tiny breaks to reflect.
The first thing I learned was very obvious the first day back at work (home from retreat). When doing an extremely potent practice like Vajrakilaya, I need to give myself at least two – three days of complete down time to integrate. I almost got myself fired. And this is coming from someone who, in the past would easily have accused himself of being a charming, super-nice, pleasing individual. Yeah, this practice of wrathful compassion stirred my pot, and so much so that I would not recommend it to anyone with less than five to ten years of authentic practice under their belts. At least give yourself some time to investigate how big the fire is before you dive into it!!! Seriously. Of course, then you must ask yourself, “why am I diving into a fire in the first place?”
Second, if I have delusions around my heart about anything, doing a potent retreat like this will constantly bring up those said delusions with the intention of clearing and dispelling them. Enough said. Ouch!
Third, it is my intention to participate fully in life. Sometimes in the past I have held back just a little, but this withdrawal quickly adds up and I found myself sitting on the outside looking at a circle of dancers who were enjoying themselves. Not anymore. I don’t care how I look, I don’t care what I am wearing, I want to immerse myself in life. I will keep a balance between restraint (I feel this is the first necessary ingredient to a spiritual life) and pleasure, discipline and letting go.
What does this have to do with the retreat? Well, basically I learned to take myself and my thoughts and my (annoying) patterns that much less seriously! Ha!
Fourth, always take pictures and have a camera ready in the event of a fascinating video opportunity. No matter what I am feeling like deep down. The first couple days of retreat were full of resistance and inner turmoil, not unlike other retreats, but in choosing to withdraw from the beauty around me, I missed it! At the Zen Center, there were strands of little bells hanging down from the gutters, and on those first two days, it rained. Well guess what – that would have made an awesome video to see the water works in action. They were so peaceful to watch! Sorry I missed the chance to photograph them.
Fifth, my life has become incredibly fluid. At my job, where I work at a moderately busy fine dining room, we never know what to expect and we must stay on our toes to react to any type of individual customer. In my life of travel plans, people invite me to do something down the road, and then two weeks later, they tell me they have to stay home and do something else. Romantically, I think one thing is going to happen, and I am taken by surprise. I am beginning to realize it would be best to completely let go of expectations! If I don’t need to decide something right now, then there is no use thinking about it. Just let my mind rest down, easy, letting go of any and all mental grasping. I remember the quote by a Native American Indian wisdom holder, that one needs to let go of the edge of the river and just allow themselves to drift out into the current and see where it takes them. Well, I thought I had this down. But I am just getting started.