September 2014, Harry Einhorn, photo by Andrea Sherman
For more information about the Profound Treasury Retreat, click HERE.
The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma Retreat happened next to the ocean. One fellow retreatant mentioned that the constant sound of the waves breaking on the shore kept us company during long periods of meditation. I suppose it’s kind of ironic, because I’ve heard that Trungpa Rinpoche hated people sunbathing in the sand on the beach; he called it “lying in the dirt.” But I can’t help but think he would get a laugh out of the fact that this is where we were immersed in his teachings.
Although many participants got the chance to fit in some quick swims, there wasn’t much time for lying around. Our days were full of sitting periods, teachings, supplementary classes, meditation instruction, and study. When I signed up for the retreat, all I knew is that I would be studying Trungpa Rinpoche’s seminary teachings with their esteemed editor, Acharya Judy Lief. What I didn’t realize was that I would be entering a mandala, mutually created by all of the participants, from seasoned practitioners who had been close to Trungpa Rinpoche since he arrived to America, to people who were more or less brand new to his teachings and methods.
Working together, an old gym was converted to a fully functioning shrine hall. Chants were uttered, forms were revived and taught. For the first few days, nothing happened but walking, sitting, and chanting. Potent boredom set in. We were meeting Trungpa Rinpoche’s mind through the forms and practice he established for his western students over forty years ago.
Enter Acharya Lief. With a mix of gentleness and strength, she conveyed these precious teachings in a way that was at once accessible, present, and pure. These teachings were not meant to be intellectualized, but could be put into practice, on the spot. This manifested in the care, attention to detail, and the feeling of community that arose during those eight days. The space began to be tamed, and society was formed.
As the retreat came to a close, people packed up their cushions, the shrine hall was taken down, and participants began to go on their way. The real challenge began: to continue the spark of compassion and spaciousness that had been ignited over those eight short days. Sometimes it’s hard to remember as I’m rushing around New York City, but I cherish the connections, re-connections, and discoveries I made, and am so grateful for the opportunity to return again next year.