Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Apprentice Retreat part II

The final day of our apprentice retreats is always celebratory.  In the morning we practise tsog'khorlo.  This is a practice of sharing food and company.  It is an opportunity to view one another purely as dakas (pawos - heroes, warriors) and dakinis (khandros - sky-goers), to enter the dimension of non-duality, and to renew vows.  It is a practice that wishes everyone and everything everywhere to be happy and fulfilled.

Often in the afternoon we engage in an expedition that challenges us a little physically and offers the opportunity to engage with practice through the opening of the sense fields.  This time we climbed Caer Caradoc.  It was the first time I had attempted such a climb since damaging my knees a few years ago coming off my horse, Red.  I wondered how I would cope.  Part of the walk was seriously steep and the only way I could manage this was to tack back and forth across the path.  This worked well.

We arrived at the first crest and rested for a while.  The views were wonderful.  From there it looked like an easier walk up to the peak . . . but Caer Caradoc is one of those hills with a sense of humour.  Three times we climbed to 'the peak' only to find that there was another bit of hill still to do.  Eventually we did arrive at the peak and relished the magnificent 360 degree panoramic view.  The wind was blowing a gale and it felt as though we might take off.  Ravens circled above us effortlessly riding the wind.  We found a spot slightly out of the wind and sat down.  We sang Dorje Tsig Dün to the tune of the Flight of the Vulture and meditated together for a while.

Going down was much faster than going up and very hard on the knees.  My legs felt quite wobbly and my knees we hurting by the time we reached the more level track at the bottom of the hill.  The walk back to the car was gentle and level however, and my legs and knees gradually recovered.

In the evening we had our celebration, entertaining one another with performances of songs.  And so the retreat was over.  It was an inspiring and enjoyable week and we are all looking forward to being there for retreat again - even those who had been uncertain about a camping retreat.

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