Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Listen up, everybody. This is an important question.  How does a butterfly get through the fine meshed bird netting that covers one of my garden beds? During the past several days I've freed numbers of them, when I've seen them floundering against the net from the inside, trying to escape. It's a mystery to me.

I'm back from retreat. Kind of. Let's say I'm edging back. Officially, I'm not 'back' until tomorrow, but I put a hole in the proverbial dam yesterday when I answered an email from the bhikkhunis in California that I wanted to chime in on immediately, as it concerned me and some new duties I'm taking on. Once that was done, the hole just kept growing and emails have now been flowing as normal. But, I'm still being silent otherwise, still sticking with the meditation schedule and work schedule and the monastic precepts (no evening meal and no entertainment, primarily).

And, since I took the plunge last week and signed up for a formal jhana retreat at Bhavana next week (as opposed to the informal one I've been doing here), I will have a four-day turnaround before I hit the long road again early Sunday morning.

I found great humor during this week at how much my house has profited from the daily scheduled hour of work. My house is too small to require an hour to tidy up every day, so I had to find projects, things that would take time. This morning, I hauled everything out of the pantry and cleaned it thoroughly, then put it all back inside. Badly needed! There have been many of these projects, inside and out (I almost tamed the rosemary). That's a good thing!

The retreat was more than successful. It was intense and deep and hard work! So hard, in fact, that by Sunday I was drained, whupped, pooped, flogged. Done. That's when I started peeking at the internet again, reading but not answering email. The mind and body were just too tired to keep the work going. I'll do more of these, but I've learned a couple of things. One is not to use an electronic teacher, since that requires turning on the computer. The one I used is actually on a cd that I have, but it opens in a browser and has three talks per day, so it didn't make sense to turn the computer on and off three times a day. I just left it on -- and the temptation got me.

The second thing I learned was that next time I won't make it quite so long, since I really haven't been very effective these last few days while I was so drained.

Other than those minor things, it all went well. I didn't have any trouble keeping to the schedule (although I did blow off early morning meditation a couple of days when I was so tired and the body just wanted to sleep). All in all, I think I spent more time meditating during meditation periods than I normally do at a formal retreat.

The best thing about it all was silence. Outer silence that allowed the inner silence and peace to arise and take over. That was just too, too beautiful for words. And rather surprisingly, most of that disappeared when I began communicating and becoming involved in things again yesterday.

I really would make a good hermit. And I really do need silence, at least from time to time.

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