This made my recent personal retreat and vision quest difficult. I planned to go to a quiet retreat land and stay in a personal cabin and, you know, wrap my mind around impermanence and the joyfulness of human birth and all that. I'm usually happy to do that for hours at a time. Then I want a tea break and to have a nice chat with friends or, well, with anyone. I'll talk to a park bench if I'm in the mood. But at this retreat land there was a group doing mindful walking and maintaining complete silence for an entire week. I wasn't even encouraged to walk near them. No one on the land would "hang". It wasn't that my ego was hurt, it was just that there is a genetically-based need in my psyche to enjoy companionship, to study together, to share space.
One morning after several days there I went to sit at a sacred site on the land while the group was practising quietly, slowly, ever-so-mindfully walking up and down their own six foot spot while gazing at the ground. The energy was intense, it was really as if they were discovering everything about what it meant to be feeling the air around them. But it was boring and somewhat exclusive. So I left. Yep, I bailed. I blew out of that retreat land so fast it made the trees bend.
Now the next night a marvelous teacher, Mingyur Rinpoche, was teaching about meditation at the Rigpa Fellowship center in San Francisco. So I headed up there and joined my fellow sangha members in enjoying this radiant being's teachings. And we had some lovely chats before and after. I guess sangha is really the third jewel for me. I take refuge in the Buddhas, the Dharma, and the Sangha. Not in one without the other. And thank the Lord my sangha likes to socialize, in the breaks between silent practices.
After San Francisco I debated where to go. I had time on my hands and wasn't expected home for several days. So I found a hotel on hotels.com right on the cliff in Cambria. After a lovely meal and a glass of wine (by myself but with Mingyur Rinpoche's book, Joyful Living), I ended up walking along Moonstone Beach with my camera, capturing these last rays of sunlight through the waves.
It was the end of a lovely day and the climax of an unexpected series of lessons about where I belong.
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