I just returned from my 5th silent meditation retreat @greatvow in 5 months. I am also on the verge of reaching 365 consecutive days of seated meditation practice. To say this year has been life changing would be a dramatic understatement. It has been, rather, life making. Life giving.
While my previous seven meditation retreats at Great Vow have all been important, each unique in its unfolding and impacts, this one was different.
I started out on this path of monthly retreat in part as an experiment. I feel a deep call to Buddhism, to centering spiritual practice in my life, and especially to Great Vow itself – the people, the land, the lineage. Finding this place has been the most profound sense of homecoming I have ever experienced. So, on the heart’s instruction, and with the very kind and supportive assent of my wife, Amanda, who really makes it all possible, I dove in to see what I’d find.
Early retreats were like chipping off layers of sediment. I had insights in those retreats, and got to know the forms, the lineage, the stream of information, more deeply. But in a way it was still an experiment – almost intellectual – almost personal development. Who would I be, how much better would I be, after this?
I’m likely never to know the answer to that question because I can’t really imagine not living my life this way, now. What started out as a question has become an emphatic answer – YES. This retreat centered on lineage, on ancestors, and I felt as though I was hearing, feeling, my own family history – though not by blood. Those words flowed through me like a spring breeze.
And I connected with Hogen Roshi in a more profound way than I had up until now, and formally asked to take Jukai – the step of entering the lineage and “becoming a Buddhist.” But beyond those more practical details, I felt a shift inside myself that is indescribable, but the effects are palpable and still in the process of unfolding.
I feel as if my life up until now has been preliminary training. And that is not to discount the wonders and activities of my life – they were and are pivotal, important, deeply important. But life now is different. I step forward on a path that will extend through the end of my days on Earth. I can see it clearly.
And now I reintegrate to my day-to-day existence. I get to see how all of that impacts all of this, how they interpenetrate, what more I can learn. I am so grateful for all of this, for all of you. We are so lucky to have this life.
A quick haiku inspired by a conversation with Hogen Roshi.
He said sound hears sound
A gate, a path, wide open
Baby herons laugh