Eliza's Retreat Reflections (WHF-2011)

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    It is quite impossible to write about retreat, much in the way that it is impossible to write about anything heart-experienced rather than intellectual or emotional, though WHF was surely all of these things. I arrived with simple expectations outside of an intuition that my ‘way of being’ with Play as Being and with spiritual ‘practice’ was changing in significant ways… that after a few years of studying and a feeling of learning, the time had come to stop and allow ‘all that’ to arrange itself as wished.  

    Not as I wished… just as wished, whatever that may mean.

    Happy enough to see (and hug) Friends again, and to encounter Bruce face-to-face, also happy enough to step away from usual routines including Second Life (thanks Eden so much for covering my sessions), I found it easy to settle into what was more rugged of an environment than we’d experienced last year… we ourselves on clean-up duty in a house still sealed for the winter. This, I liked… not the Miami-like heat and many bugs so strange for Nova Scotia, or other odd glitches, but the nostalgic feeling of nights spent washing or drying dishes while looking out over a field of wild flowers, mornings sipping coffee on the bright yellow front porch, and days of setting the slightly wobbly dinner table. It often felt very much like ‘family’.

    At the end of our Silent Day, the crunching of chips at the table felt to take on the same sound as bare feet snapping sticks in the forest on the day before, when I had asked myself “Why do you keep heading for the difficult places when there is soft moss all around?” Curling toes around for support, I then took to walking across a half-mossy rotting log as though it were a balance beam, pondering implications.

    One morning Wol and I heard a huge ruckus in a tree, eventually spotting an unlikely culprit… a tiny woodpecker that after a while, allowed me to take his picture. Also captured were two shiny frogs, hiding in a glowing lotus garden until after the snapshot was revealed. The lotuses themselves, glowed in a way that caused some of us to marvel… how Second Life-like… dreamily illuminated.

    Most days we awoke, completely saturated, in birdsong.

    One night we awoke, completely saturated, in moonlight. And I remembered a poem:

    The thief left it behind,
    The moon in my window.
    -Ryokan

    An early theme that emerged was that of ‘exposure and acceptance’… how one never forgets simply being in the loving presence of someone who sees clearly, someone capable of accepting without adding overlay or perfume. It is a capacity rather than an act. There is some incomparably deep relief in that, which goes beyond friendship based on likenesses or common causes… even those based on beliefs or bonded out of similar traumas. Some first felt it with a parent or grandparent… some with a teacher or friend, but all remember. They didn’t give love, they were love. Being seen through like that can feel deeply exposing… as though caught stealing what is already given.

    Within that theme, was the question of staying in the ‘heart’ of the matter... what could that possibly mean?

    And why is love so scary? What do we expect love to be, or beauty for that matter… safe and tame, waiting to be directed or contained for our ‘purposes’?This was a conversation which led into discussion of goddesses… overlapping Bleu’s Sekmet video release and the PaB Theater happenings (then) to come, as well as Eden’s Egyptian Tales and the pre-retreat dream shared in some sessions… wisdoms emerging.

    Play not as ‘imitation’ but rather excavating authenticity... again, exposure and acceptance…

    Day by day, I felt drop many ‘tricks’ I’m normally not even aware of relying on… knowing more and more what might be left if the various ‘me’s at all stages of life were entirely integrated … no more shows to put on at all… nothing to prove or lose or even give… no one to impress…

    One morning I headed way out to some large rocks on the lake encircled by forest, and laughed aloud pondering the thought of trying to capture pictures of ‘no self’ “And here no self sits on the rocks appreciating nature…”  Haha, how silly! But we do sound like that sometimes. ;-)

    This was actually prompted by a painful longing to settle deeply… to really dance. Noticing how much dialog and looped/pre-programmed thinking, was still ‘in the way’, I felt how I was or seemed to be in this exquisite place, but could I reach it directly? It was like watching on a screen, or to use Pema’s analogy, like wearing gloves. I could see what being ‘off the hook entirely’ might be like, as though it were sitting just next door, a world alongside, and this seemed to allow a tiny shift… a response to longing… a refuge ‘flip’… peace. Then it seemed time to return.

    Later I was reminded of one part of the Song of Enlightenment:

    Self-centered merit brings the joy of heaven itself,
    But it is like shooting an arrow at the sky;
    When the force is exhausted, it falls to the earth,
    And then everything goes wrong.

    Why should this be better
    Than the true way of the absolute,
    Directly penetrating the ground of Tathagata?
    Just take hold of the source
    And never mind the branches.

    It is like a treasure-moon
    Enclosed in a beautiful emerald.
    Now I understand this Mani-jewel
    And my gain is the gain of everyone endlessly.

    So many things that I hope others will share… TSK being a theme as well, and spontaneous ‘this is a dream’ practice … some moments coming close to pure play. Alas, still no RL Onigokko. However Wol and I did share a Crane dance.

    ;-)

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