So, where did I leave off? Oh, yes. I believe I had burst into tears yet again over my struggles with faith. Yet, a kind monk showed me that this blackness in my mind was just a passing storm and could easily be placated with a good thrashing about the head with a dharma book and some chocolate. But, something definitely had shifted.
When I got back home from the bliss bubble that is Festival, I started taking my practice quite seriously. While I had been a dharma student for nine years, it didn’t mean my meditation practice was particularly stable. I kinda figured if I meditated 2-3 times a week at class, I was good to go. But, now I was trying to get in some serious meditation everyday. I also took up a simple daily purification practice, which surprised the hell out of even myself. Purification was one of those concepts I had definitely put on the back burner because I simply didn’t buy into it. It seemed so . . . again, Catholic is the word that is coming up for me. Yet, without much ado, it felt like the right time to take it on.
It was also coming up to the time where people traditionally do some Vajrayogini retreat. The longest I’ve ever done is a week, and always considered doing the long 110,000 mantra retreat something I would have to put off until I was unemployed or retired. Yet, the crazy idea was going through my head that maybe I could pull it off this year if I could talk my friend John into doing it with me at his place. I couldn’t/wouldn’t want to do that month long retreat at the residential center in the city because a) I didn’t want to stay there because I had elderly, sickly cats at home b) I didn’t want to commute and c) many of my fellow practitioners annoy the hell out of me. However, when I posited the idea to John, he laughed and laughed and laughed. OK, OK I get it. My teacher, who was thrilled I was considering doing the retreat, suggested I just do it by myself at home. Wha? Me? The world’s laziest practitioner? That requires discipline! I don’t do discipline. Yet . . .
Somehow it all worked out, and I managed to complete my month-long retreat at home by myself. At times blissful, at times grueling. It was exhilarating, it was exhausting. It felt sacred, it felt banal. And at the end it felt like one of the biggest accomplishments of my life.
Coming soon – Part 4: the dharma center implodes.