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Thread: My experience at a Tibetan retreat

  1. #1

    My experience at a Tibetan retreat

    Hi guys,

    These past weekend I got the privilege to be invited to a Tibetan Buddhism retreat, by the Khamlungpa Center. They are the Gelup order, the same the Dalai Lama is from. The Center was founded by Lama Zopa Rimpoché, a very respected leader of their community (almost a living god for what I saw).

    A few months ago the nice folks at Khamlungpa contacted me because they were very curious about me because I am the only Soto Zen priest here in the city. We went for coffee and became friends. And they were very kind to invite me. So I went.

    The retreat was because a very dear teacher of them, Ven. Lhundup Damcho, was visiting town and they wanted the whole community to listen to her teachings. The retreat was about living an ethic life in a country full of violence and how to be at peace with all, and at the same time, how to work for the well being of all sentient beings. Also the center teaching of the retreat was to study and recite the Sanghata Sutra.

    There was only vegan meals and drinks and some sugary treats. Some coffee, but I found out that most of the attendants are against coffee. The nerve!

    The retreat lasted for 4 days and most of the time everyone was silent, except in the teachings, talks and meditations.

    Meditations were very interesting because they don't sit silent zazen. They talk to inject imagery to the mind. They use a lot of visualizations, symbols and stories. Also there were no bells at the begining or end of the sessions. At first it was a little unsettling to listen to a guided meditation, but after the first day it was easier. Still, I missed my silent zazen a lot. When I got home I wanted to sit in silence for a bit. And I did!

    The talks by Ven. Damcho were very interesting and in tune with some of the things we have learned in Treeleaf. I felt at home there. Damcho was fun, smart and she knows how to deliver a strong message when she needs to.

    When she saw me she was surprised because it's unusual for them to have an ordained priest form another tradition. She made me feel welcome and asked me a couple of questions about zen practice. I tried to answer as best as I could and she was happy with that. Not sure if she was testing me, but I didn't detect any ill intention.

    By the third day came the main teaching. We recited the Sanghata Sutra, which I didn't know and found very interesting and a real gem. In fact I found it so powerful and wise that I'd like to study it a little more.

    From the offical Sanghata Sutra web site:

    The Sanghāta Sūtra records a discourse given by Buddha Shakyamuni on Vulture’s Peak in Rajagriha. This discourse, like all Mahāyāna sutras, was memorized by his disciples and later written down in Sanskrit. However, the Sanghāta Sūtra is unique in that it is a teaching that the Buddha himself had heard from a previous Buddha, and it is also unique in the scope of the effects it has on those who recite it.

    The Sanghāta is one of a special set of Buddhist sutras called dharma-paryāyas, or ‘transformative teachings,’ that function to transform those who hear or recite them in particular ways. One very powerful benefit is that at the time of death, any person who has recited the Sanghāta will have visions of Buddhas who come to comfort them during the death process. A further benefit is that wherever the Sanghāta Sūtra is established, the Buddhas are always present, as explained in the text itself. As such, the recitation can bestow a powerful blessing on the place where it is recited.
    If you are interested you can download it from here:

    The chanting was very energetic. We were about 50 people chanting and it lasted for more than 3 hours. When we finished I was soaked in sweat! And then there was a little silence

    The retreat ended yesterday and I came home for a few hours to catch up on work and in the night I went back for my last talk about attachment and love. Pretty interesting but it was intended for visitors new to Buddhism.

    And in the very last moment, one of the nuns, Ven. Nangpel came to me and asked me if I used to train Aikido in Mexico City. My jaw dropped to the ground because that was in a city far far away from here and about almost 20 years ago! So I said "yes, I did". She told me that I had gone to her house many times and that we had practiced together in Aikido retreats in the beach. She mentioned a couple of friends from those days.

    It turned out she was my Aikido pal from back then, whom I had totally forgotten!!! Now she is a Buddhist nun and she travels the world! What are the odds of that! 20 years later, both in schools of Buddhism that rarely get together, in a totally different city... It was weird, but I was very happy. And she was too, but she managed to control her emotions really well.

    So that was it. I'm still tired, but it was a very interesting experience. I really missed my zazenkai and Treeleaf.

    It's really good to be back

    Lastly, here are some pictures:



    Last edited by Kyonin; 07-15-2015 at 12:02 AM.
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  2. #2
    That's awesome, Kyonin! I've been to a small Tibetan center here in Pittsburgh and it was an interesting experience. The visualizations were very different for me too. Fascinating to say the least. I'm glad you had a great time!



    Sent from my LGMS345 using Tapatalk
    Forever is so very temporary...

  3. #3
    Hello Kyōnin,

    This is wonderful. I have sat and participated in a few Tibetan retreats as well in the past. There is a beauty in their practice, but I too agree, I enjoy the stillness and simplicity of Shikantaza which has always been my true home. =)

    Also, tried to look at your photos, but unable to due to permissions.



  4. #4
    Thank you so much for sharing this story, Kyonin!

    Kaishin (開心, Open Heart)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  5. #5
    Fixed the pictures. I just uploaded here 4 of them


    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyonin View Post
    Fixed the pictures. I just uploaded here 4 of them


    Very nice Kyōnin, thank you for sharing. =)



  7. #7
    Thank you for sharing this story, very interesting to me Kyonin,

    My favorite part however, is the pictures, the space is so colorful, their robes and statues and paintings are really lively. Perfectly complimenting their practice from what you have described.


  8. #8

    Thank you for sharing. And the photos were lovely to see, two traditions side by side.

    Gassho, Kyotai
    Sat today...outside....with a skunk!

  9. #9
    I'm so glad you had a good retreat! It's neat to practice with different traditions, to be exposed to new practices and reaffirm our own. I practiced with a Tibetan group here in Maine before I settled at Treeleaf. What impressed me was the ready smiles of all the teachers!

    Welcome home!

    Deep bows


  10. #10

    Thank you for the lesson.

    Myosha sat today
    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  11. #11

    Thank you.


    Life is our temple and its all good practice

  12. #12
    Member Getchi's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Between Sea and Sky, Australia.
    Beautiful, glad you enjoyed your time!

    I studied at a Dzogchen centre near me for a while, its a different sort of spice
    Nothing to do? Why not Sit?

  13. #13
    Thank you very much, Kyonin.


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