28 Aug
Posted in: Retreats, Travel
By    Comments Off on First Burma, Now Africa!

First Burma, Now Africa!

I’m off the wait list and I’ve sent in my deposit, so it’s official: I’m going to Africa! In January I’ll be attending a month-long retreat led by Kittisaro and Thanissara at Dharmagiri Hermitage, a 3-hour bus ride from Durbin, South Africa (which is in the southeast part of the country, on the Indian Ocean coast).

There’s no VISA required, and no need for shots or malaria meds. And there’s a direct flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg, so really, this is going to be a lot easier than the trip to Burma. Still pretty exotic, though!

The plan right now is to fly from St. Louis to Atlanta (an hour and a half flight), then onto Johannesburg (15 hours), then spend the night and a day getting un-jetlagged, then fly to Durbin (3 hours), then take the bus to Dharmagiri (3 hours). The retreat starts at 7pm on January 6 and ends at 7am on February 2.

In between, there will be 2 weeks of practice in the Theravada tradition followed by 2 weeks in Mahayana. The first part will be pretty much a regular Spirit Rock-type vipassana retreat, but the second part sounds quite different.

The website says the Mahayana practice will focus on the Bodhisattva Way through the cultivation of the Kuan Yin Dharmas. The Bodhisattva heart balances the “letting go” practices of Theravada with “picking up” a skillful and compassionate relationship to the world. The archetype of compassionate wisdom in Mahayana is the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Khan Yin), the “One Who Regards the Sounds of the World with Ease.”

The two dimension of Kuan Yin Dharma we will practice:
* The cultivation of a “field of blessings”  through the focus of mind using mantra, ceremony and the reality of profound inter-connectedness within the immanence of awareness.
* The “investigation of emptiness,” through the Chan practice of “turning the mind back” onto itself, which is also resonant with the non-dual approach of Zen, Vedanta and Self Inquiry.


Comments are closed.