In the spring of 2013, I found myself in a tiny house in the midst of an Oregon forest nestled under towering Douglas fir trees and surrounded by green moss and thick grass. Next to my cabin flowed a beautiful creek. The water originated from snow-melt in the Oregon Cascade mountains. That creek flows to McKenzie River and eventually empties onto the Oregon coast. This forest was to become my secluded home for my solitary retreat for the next three and half years.
The land was owned by my friends and blessed by many Tibetan lamas, particularly a number of Kagyu Mahamudra masters. My cabin was a custom-made trailer tiny home. Outwardly it looks like a small cabin on wheels with cedar shake walls and a metal roof and inwardly, it is a cozy functional tiny lodge with a bedroom loft of three Japanese tatami-grass mats and a meditation seat in a 2-mat Japanese styled tea room.
This long-term retreat was traditionally called “Nyen-Chen” (Great Retreat), a life-time dream of yogi and yogini meditators in the Geluk tradition. It took me almost 40 years from my first spark of interest in the Buddhadharma for this retreat to finally ignite all the auspicious causes and conditions that allowed me to actualize this retreat. When my son, Mani, died suddenly at the age of 16 in 2003, I knew that there would be nothing to lose in devoting the rest of my life to Dharma practice. His life and death were great blessings of joy and sorrow for my dharma practice in retreat.