18 Feb
Posted in: Teachers
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“Retreat” vs. “Real Life”

josepht-and-mountainsAt next Sunday Sangha, I’m thinking of reading from an excellent interview with Joseph Goldstein that just came out in the Spring issue of Tricycle magazine.

Here’s a sample:

Interviewer: “I often hear people draw a distinction between ‘retreat’ and ‘real life’. As someone who has devoted a good deal of his life in retreat, or creating a place for people to enter into long-term retreat, how would you respond to this distinction?”

Joseph: “Slightly tongue-in-cheek I would say that really, retreat is real life and non-retreat isn’t. It’s more likely on retreat that we’re living in awareness of what’s happening–more so than when we’re busy in the world.

“So in that sense we are connected with the reality of what’s going on more on retreat, and in our busy lives in the world we’re more often caught up in the stories and in the movies of our mind, which in a certain sense in not the real world; its just the world of our mental projections. That’s the more superficial response.

“The fuller response, I think, is that in a very basic way it’s a false distinction. The mind-body process is working all the time, whatever we’re doing. It doesn’t stop when we’re on retreat and start again when we’re out in the world, or reverse. It’s the same process going on all the time.

The real question, whether we’re on retreat or out in the world, is: Are we aware of this mind-body process or not? Are we being mindful of what’s happening or not?”


There’s a lot more. Click here to read the full interview.

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