Hello Dear Sangha.
As many of you know, we are headed into a year-long retreat starting January 1, 2022. We are excited. It has been 8 years since returning to the world after our four-year silent retreat. It’s time, time to go drop in again for a lengthier stretch to deepen and stabilize our practice.
Preparing for retreat has, over the years, become an important part of the retreat. Whether preparing for a vacation or retreat, any major interruption in “life as usual,” invites deliberate careful caring attention to what is currently happening and to discerning what is needed.
It is hard to leave a life mid-step; yet isn’t that always how it is? It’s never really convenient or predictable. Some of you are dealing with heavenly messengers, with aging parents, sick family members, and the upheavals of a global pandemic. Changing familiar rhythms disturbs our sense of peace and ease and yet, these smaller comings and goings prepare us for the bigger, more inevitable ones.
It is hard to say good-bye for now, and yet these goodbyes punctuate the poignancy of the moment, give us pause to take stock and appreciate what was, and is, here.
We will miss ALL of you. You are kalyana mitta. You are part of our holding environment. Make no mistake. For eight years we have done our best to offer the fruits of our practice with all of you, and we have learned so much along the way. May it always be so.
May we keep learning the ways of skillful means. We have stepped into many a pothole and tripped over our own unawakened selves along the way. This isn’t a mistake. This IS the practice in action, waking us to our unskillfulness and the harm it may have caused. This is why we practice–to wake up out of our view and into one that is more wholesome and holistic one, one that is truly holding.
This is also why, there is a tradition in monastic communities for teachers to formally ask for forgiveness from the sangha for any harm that they have knowingly or unknowingly caused. This practice keeps them humble. As students of the Dharma, first and foremost, we recognize our unawakened selves, our fallibility and culpability. And so,
“For any harm that has been knowingly and unknowingly caused any of you, we respectfully ask for forgiveness.” (As committed practitioners we will continue educating our hearts and minds to grow kind and wise, and manifest this heartfelt sentiment of non-harm and goodwill in the world, not perfectly, but earnestly.)
And now, we offer these wishes,
“May you be safe/ may you be happy, content, peaceful/ may you be as healthy as is possible/may you have as much ease of wellbeing as is possible/ may you love yourself just as you are!!!”
Take good care of yourselves and each other. We need each other. And the world needs folks like you and us who are training to be brave enough willing to go inside and take a deeper look.
May the benefit of our practice alone and together be of service to all of those who are struggling.
Though on retreat next year, we will be honoring our in-person teaching commitments in 2022:
Vallecitos Retreat: June 18-25
BCBS retreat: Sept 30-Oct 5
Sangha Retreat at Copper Beech Institute: Oct 6-10
And lastly, if you need a little extra support next year, consider coming to the Daily Sit: Monday through Friday, from 10:30-11:15 am ET. Though we won’t be there in physical form, we’ll be there in spirit. We know you are in good hands!
Until 2023, be well.
Bill & Susan