Notes From a Buddhist Retreat


While I was in Nepal I attended a weekend retreat on Tibetan Buddhism at the Ganden Yiga Chozin Buddhist Center in Pokhara. The course was led by the wonderful venerable Yeshe, an American monk with a deliciously exacting mind and a wicked sense of humour. While I was at the center (about two weeks in total) I read “Seeking the heart of wisdom” by Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield (an introduction to insight meditation, which I very highly recommend), and the following are notes from both.

♥ “The way things exist is not the way they appear” – the Buddha

♥ From “Seeking the heart of wisdom”: “There’s a sign outside a casino in Vegas that says ‘You must be present to win’ – the same is true for meditation”

♥ It’s never about the external. It’s always about your mental attitude towards it

♥ From “Seeking the heart of wisdom” – “Wisdom grows out of our clear seeing in each moment. Seeing the arising and passing of our experience and how we relate to it”

♥ The 7 factors of enlightenment are: Mindfulness, Effort, Investigation, Rapture, Concentration, Tranquility, Equanimity

♥ From “Seeking the heart of wisdom”: “Everything is arising and dissolving, like a bubble”

♥ The very fact of being alive means that you will kill (ants, bacteria, food), and that your body will suffer

Form is emptiness and emptiness is form (example of the lentil, which transforms into a sprout and then into a plant)

♥ From “Seeking the heart of wisdom”: From the poet Kabir – “When the eyes and ears are open, even the leaves on the trees teach like pages from the scriptures”

Dependent arising – when you se a piece of paper, see the cloud that rains and provides the water for the tree to grow which provided you with the paper; everything in the world needs the right conditions in order to exist, hence nothing exists independently

♥ “When you walk, let your feet kiss the ground” – Thich Nhat Hanh

♥ From “Seeking the heart of wisdom”: “Restraint leads to a profound change of understanding. Not only is it the letting go of unwholesome actions and the conservation and build-up of a strong energy momentum, but restraint of mind is also the matrix for seeing more clearly the impermanent, insubstantial nature of reality”

♥ ‘Time’ is a measurement of change. A ‘moment’ is the shortest interval of change that we can perceive. Increased awareness = increase in change perception ability

Ego is strongest in times of adversity

♥ From “Seeking the heart of wisdom”: “In true compassion there is no attachment and no aversion”

♥ You must hold your sense of self like a soap bubble

♥ From “Seeking the heart of wisdom”: “When we settle back and open to what is happening in each moment, without attachment or aversion, we are developing a compassionate attitude toward each experience”

♥ I am “a complex flow of physical and mental events, clustered in habitual patterns, continuing through time”



2 thoughts on “Notes From a Buddhist Retreat

  1. I love that quotation from Kabir “When the eyes and ears are open, even the leaves on the trees teach like pages from the scriptures”!!!
    This is very inspiring and it makes me want to stop, see, hear and learn. Sometimes one gets too busy making an effort to learn when sometimes just stay still and being present in the moment it’s all it takes to learn.


Comments are closed.