Reflections After Retreat
I went to Khadiravana for a White Tara retreat starting the night of November 1. We had a group practice from the night of Nov 3 till the afternoon of Nov 4. There were 23 of us who came from various parts of Bangkok and Hat Yai. Two monks from Vietnam and India joined us. The one from India actually has a Tibetan heritage. Other international participants include two people from Taiwan, a Hungarian couple and a Spanish practitioner. We used English as a medium and we recited prayers in English and Tibetan. A family brought a five-year-old boy who behaved so well. He played a little bit but mainly slept in Areerat’s little tent pitched inside the Mantra Stupa. Tsamdrol, a 13-year-old girl brought her parents to the session. She impressed us with her interest and determination to practice Tibetan Buddhism. When asked who gave her this Tibetan name, she said she named it herself after reading a story of a Tibetan nun who inspired her.
It was wonderful to see Sui, my very old friend and Wora and Nuch, two dearest linguistic students of mine at Khadiravana. With Yenchu, a Taiwanese lady, they came to spend the night in the Mantra Stupa. After the prayer, Yenchu asked to spend her night alone in a Tibetan tent opposite the Mantra Stupa. The rest of us including Yontan and Areerat slept in the warm embrace of Buddhas. It was a special night that I slept soundly not hearing any sounds and feeling warm and well protected.
During the group practice and a few days earlier Yontan has been sick with dengue fever. But no one was aware. He didn’t show sign of serious illness. But when everyone left, he complained of weariness and strange symtoms. And he refused to eat for the next 15 hours or so. The same night Soraj sent an SMS to inform me that Ken also got dengue fever. With disappointment, I decided to leave my retreat ealier than originally planned to take care of these two patients who are dear to me.
I spent a couple of hours on Nov 5 packing my belongings and cleaning my retreat house. After the work, I sat down quietly enjoying the breezes of this wonderful place. I thought how wonderful it was to have an empty house without any belonging and how nice it was to be able to sit quietly without talking to anyone and to get to know your own mind.
Now Ken is active and cheerful as before. He returned to school this morning. Yontan is getting better, although he still needs more rest. With a familiar atmosphere and quiet normal life, my mind seems calm again. There’s no agitation, worry, excitement, disappointment or sadness. I contemplated on this fact and realized what it meant to “meditate without expectation”. Because I went to Khadiravana with some expectation, I became disappointed. If I just practice there without purpose or goal, nothing could disturb me because the natural state is already perfect. It is neither good nor bad; it’s non-dual from the beginning.