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Chronicles of Dave and Whitney
May I please have another pillow?
When I (Dave) was traveling in India in 1992 I happened onto the town of Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama of Tibet lives in exile. I took a 10-day Buddhist meditation retreat, most of which I dismissed as bologna by the time I left in a huff at the end of the course. Over the next few months, though, I kept thinking back to parts of what I'd learned and they seemed like they made sense. Last year I was in India again, and I took two 10-day silent meditation retreats back to back! In spite of my complete lack of expectations, or even any good reason for being there, it ended up being a really profound experience for me.
Whitney and I had been talking a lot about the possibility of doing a retreat together, and we'd heard about a teacher name Goenka. His claim to fame, as far as I was concerned, was how difficult his retreats were. They are a full 10 days, and they strictly adhere to "Noble Silence" , which means absolutely no talking to other students, as well as no eye contact, gestures or signals, no reading, no writing, no trombone playing, no nuthin'. If it's enjoyable, you can't do it. Check out this schedule:
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4:00 a.m.--Morning wake-up bell
4:30- 6:30 a.m.--Meditate in the hall or your own room
6:30- 8:00 a.m.--Breakfast break
8:00- 9:00 a.m.--GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL
9:00-11:00 a.m.--Meditate in the hall or your own room
11:00-12:00 p.m.--Lunch break
12:00- 1:00 p.m.--Rest and interviews with the teacher
1:00- 2:30 p.m.--Meditate in the hall or your own room
2:30- 3:30 p.m.--GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL
3:30- 5:00 p.m.--Meditate in the hall or your own room
5:00- 6:00 p.m.--Tea break
6:00- 7:00 p.m.--GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL
7:00- 8:15 p.m.--Teacher's Discourse in the hall
8:15- 9:00 p.m.--GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL
9:00- 9:30 p.m.--Question time in the hall
9:30 p.m.--Retire to your own room-lights out
It adds up to 10+ hours of sitting meditation per day! You can imagine our excitement (not). We thought it would be impossible, but it was only really, really bad. I hope to use that joke over and over in these newsletters.
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