Ahh, washed ashore on the other side of our Summer Retreat. This deeply transformative experience continues to ripple through my being, with effects that began several days prior to entering retreat. Putting my experience into words can be so challenging; human language is clumsy and somewhat inadequate for adorning the ineffable.
I started out with plans to stitch together journal entries and create one long review of the retreat. It simply refuses to come together like that. Dakini rolls her eyes and reminds me that this isn't English Composition class. So below are shorter highlights, just as they are.
The voice telling me that it's okay to breathe here, to rest and reassess, is being drowned out by other voices, all the conglomeration of “not-enough” voices screaming their often illogical arguments. I know it's illogical but I buy it anyway. Or at least, it's tempting to buy into it, to believe it. This is a demon. You're in Cho retreat, this is the time to reflect on your demons and put them to bed. As in, hear their cries, provide soothing words, contact, and sustenance, and sit quietly until they cease stirring.
Don't take refuge in things that are conditioned. Which is most things: career, possessions, people, love, pursuits, passions, physical beauty, mental prowess. All these little sandcastles inevitably swept up in the tide, kicked over by wayward dogs and children, or slowly blown apart by the wind. All these things are decaying from the moment they are born. What sense does it make to place any sort of hope, let alone demands, on corpses? It is all ashes in your mouth, in the end.
Once and for all, take your refuge in that which does not decay. Go beyond being enamored with the idea of a spiritual life. Ideas evaporate. Plant the roots of your new life in sacred soil and allow the old roots to wither. Better yet, sever those old roots with one fierce swing, wrathful dakini fire blazing to turn them into dust, forgotten and gone.
New moon, and on the other side of the Common and Uncommon Cho Empowerments. Deep gratitude, deep enough to bring tears and raw-hearted emotion after yesterday's session. What a strange and beautiful and potent coalescing of karmic causes and conditions. The good fortune, and the responsibility, is immense. Many lifetimes of seeking and spiritual work brought me here. Any time I feel like a failure, I need to remember – I made it here. I am fortunate beyond measure, and absolutely broken in the best way with love and renewed vigor.
I am a wandering yogini. “Wandering” doesn't mean traipsing all over creation trying to “find” yourself. There is nothing to find outside of this body-mind system. Wandering means no fixed abode of concepts; wandering means realizing the nature of emptiness, based on the supports of renunciation and bodhicitta. When the nature is realized, countless worlds explode into infinite possibility. Emptiness is not nothingness. Maybe it's no-thingness? It is the fluid ever-shifting womb of Reality. You are not separate from it. Suffering beings are you. There is no point clinging to personal happiness. E Ma Ho!