Group retreat 2011.
To be in retreat is a precious opportunity where one puts aside all samsaric / worldly activities and practices the dharma with ones body, speech and mind. Sixteen members of our Buddhist society shared together five days in Jelov Klanac (near the Plitvice lakes)endeavoring to purify, accumulate merit, taking and upholding the Buddhist Pratimoksha wows and dedicating merits with the motivation to benefit all sentient beings.
As I walk,
I take all perceptions as the path,
that is how to walk,
letting the six consciousnesses
liberate themselves .
As I rest
I rest in unaltered naturalness:
That is the essential and ultimate way to rest.
As I eat
I eat the food of emptiness,
That is to eat without any dualistic notions.
As I drink
I drink the water of mindfulness and vigilance,
That is how I drink unceasingly.
( Jetsun Milarepa)
Our days began at five in the morning with Buddhist yogic practices whereas a large part of the day was dedicated to the practice of Avalokiteshwara- the Deity of compassion. Despite the long hours of practice, a common feeling prevailed of heartfelt contentment and happiness. (See the picture of the radiating faces at the end of the retreat)
Due to the courtesy of the owner of the cottages and being a non-tourist session we were left in total isolation encountering only horses freely grazing over green pastures as though reminding us of the importance of freeing ourselves from samsaric bondages. Our temporary residence- small wooden cottages, comfortable with bare necessities became an example of the beauty of simplicity. “After all how much does one need?” Although it was the month of September, in those few days we witnessed the autumn sun and the winter snow as though impermanence was staring us in the face. The bliss of sitting by the warmth of the burning wood in the evenings although comforting, could not be compared to the bliss of burning the afflictions by the fire of wisdom with its essence of compassion. Sharing our time together in virtues activities as well as sharing our environment we became a big happy family. Focusing on our inner self we were all at home.
As the retreat came to an end we all felt revitalized, energized. Many of the group members were heard saying,” we felt more energized when we came out of retreat as compared to the period before the retreat.” Despite the short duration of the retreat the merit accumulated will remain with us in this and future lifetimes.
Text by: Reena Šmalcelj