"Retreat" is a misnomer. This is instead a forward march, an advance. It is a training session, bootcamp revisited, an obstacle course, a mountain to climb, an ocean to cross. In all these endeavors there is a clear "do or die" sense of accomplishment, satisfaction. But this is delusion, silly grasping, foolish looking forward.
There is an expectation that many hours will be passed, in room D at Emperor's, alone or in company, but alone regardless of company, watching...watching the animals that come to drink from the pond or the fish that rise to the surface or the passing reflections, to paraphrase Ajahn Chah.
But the Dhamma makes clear that all expectations fall short, all plans are doomed to fail, dukkha intervenes and this is the cause of chaos, randomness, change. Oh how grateful I am for change. Change provides variety, the spice of life. I expect the meditation to be change. I hope it will be change. But who knows? For me the changing has already begun. Effortless, flowing, gliding along the course, the seam between worlds.
This changing is an exercise to establish the strength to cooperate with the others who are change, to lend my strength to yours, to theirs to divert the course of cultivated greed anger and delusion into generosity, compassion and...wisdom. Just on the edge of reason, the conscious world, Gaia, welcomes our awareness and our contribution to her well being, our care for her well being, which is our well being.
So I invite you all to be compassion with me, and to start now without waiting.