Is three year retreat at Karme Ling for you?

I submit for your consideration a question posed earlier in the comment section here that I found interesting as a lama.

“I’d like to pose a question, if nobody cares to or has the balls to answer, no problem.

If I had the inclination to sit in a box for three years, three months and three days – like a chicken perching on an egg – what would hatch? I am concerned someone would consider egg sitting a spiritual attainment, creating another ego issue. Are the retreat instructions perhaps a metaphor? I enjoy metaphors.
If this act of incubation actually hatched great spiritual teachers, we should pay the chicken so to speak, and not the farmer.

You may or may not have another opinion, I’m interested.”

Here’s my response.

“In the Karma Kagyu lineage at least, the result, the realization of the true nature of the mind, is not a metaphor. We take the result, said realization, as the path. As such the purpose of the so called “traditional” retreat of which you speak, the three years, three months, three days spent in a box under the supervision of a retreat master is a form of pointing out the true nature of the mind, not to produce a result but instead to habituate oneself in the result, that which is empty, luminous, and capable of anything. Whether this so called tradition works or not is debatable of course, but I shall limit my response to the question asked, or at least my understanding of it.”

58 year old me, 25 years after then 68 year old Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, my guru, entered retreat at Karme Ling, in Delhi, New York, I am so glad Rinpoche saw a lama in me, thus sparing me from having to prove myself to him to receive his lung and tri for Mahamudra.



Filed under Buddhism

9 responses to “Is three year retreat at Karme Ling for you?

  1. Andrew Campbell

    The nature of mind should have been realized prior to retreat. The retreat is designed to amplify that understanding or realization. It serves no purpose going to retreat with the wish to understand the nature of mind and to become something special after. If you have doubts about nature of mind before the retreat then better to not go. Plus of course you need to have a good reason for wanting to amplify this realization of the nature of mind. For the most part I would warn against it.

  2. Sam

    This pointing out of the true nature of mind is another matter. Thank you both for clear answers.

  3. Harshit

    Ryder, if someone is just starting out,should they choose the lineage of Karma Kagyu as headed by Ogyen Trinley Dorje or the one by Trinley Thaye Dorje. Does it make a difference? TTD seems to be more accessible and generally seems to be enjoying his life more than OTD who is always quite uptight. Though as a neophyte I don’t know whether such extraneous behaviour amounts to anything.

    • Before joining any Sangha, for anyone contemplating doing so in 2017, I recommend that you first have a practice to share with any Sangha you decide to become a member of.

      How said Sangha responds to what you have done on your own is the best way to know whether it is right for you as a dharma practitioner.

      Now regarding the Karmapa Controversy, as it pertains to you question, I have this to say on the subject for anyone considering a sangha exclusively representing the interests and agenda of Ogyen Trinley Dorje as 17th Karmapa is that you don’t do so at this time.

      There are no shortage of Sanghas for a Dharma practitioner to practice with here that do not require you to pledge allegiance to Ogyen Trinley Dorje as 17th Karmapa.

      Regarding other Karma Kagyu sanghas, those not requiring you to pledge your allegiance to Ogyen Trinley Dorje, for example, Yongey Mingyur Dorje sangha, I leave it to those that know these sanghas to comment here as they
      see fit.

      Regarding Karma Kagyu sanghas associated with the Tibetan tradition of succession which has the Shamarpa and Karmapa succeeding each other as they did in the earliest days of the lineage, whom as such associate themselves with Thaye Dorje as 17th Karmapa without requiring you to pledge your allegiance to him, and so on, I leave it to those that know these sanghas to comment here as they
      see fit.

      Again, and I can’t emphasize this enough, I recommend that before even thinking of sharing your practice with others and becoming a member of any Sangha, given the abundance of information on how to practice available today to the public, do your due diligence first, determine for yourself what work for you
      and what doesn’t so that you can make an informed choice, based on how whatever Sangha you are interested in joining responds to what you have done on your own as a dharma practitioner.

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