In “How to Plan Your Personal Retreat,” recorded on October 12, 2020, Drupla Sonam Tsering, who has completed three three-year retreats, gives practical advice on questions including: How do we choose where to go for retreat? What are suggestions on retreat for someone with commitments like family or children? What are the advantages and disadvantages of solitary retreat? When should we do retreat at home?
Drupla begins with “In Praise of Manjushri,” known as Gang gi lodröma in Tibetan, and with the idea of our human potential. The word “human” in Tibetan means “great potential.” How do we realize our potential? By gathering merit through stable discipline, virtuous practices, and aspirations. When these three come together, merit accumulation takes place. This is very precious, bringing temporary happiness in the short term, liberation in the long term. Retreat is a special opportunity to actualize the accumulation of merit.
“In order to attain the state of awakening, we have to practice the Dharma in a genuine way,” Drupla Sonam says. He offers advice on what makes an ideal or appropriate retreat place, the advantages of group and of solitary retreat practice, including the number of sessions per day (in a traditional retreat, it’s four sessions a day). “It’s all about finding a balance that works for you,” he observes. The main aim of Phakchok Rinpoche is that his students benefit from teachings, and some signs of benefit are that renunciation deepens, bodhicitta increases, conceptual thinking diminishes, and emptiness becomes clearer. “The word ‘Dharma’ means ‘transformation.’ So we should be looking for this kind of transformation to take place in ourselves,” Drupla concludes.
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