Retreat reflections from Ruth Lumsden and Bridget Musters
A profound retreat for me.
And a joy to be back at the Wangapeka, my spiritual turangawaewae.
I felt supported in my individual work by my fellow retreatants, and I welcomed the challenges that Bonni guided us through with her sharp, sparkling wit and wisdom.
Wonderful to unplug from news of climate crises, wars, info overload, and plug in to loving kindness, compassion and equanimity.
I work in the health sector, and I was able reconnect with, and embody my commitment to the refuge vows and the Bodhisattva vow.
I am discovering a way of walking that path of compassion, through the felt experience of interconnectedness, that has since somehow lightened my daily life, and brought joy.
Aroha and ka kite
On retreat, it all seems so clear: how I can focus on the LovingKindness in my heart centre that is always there. I don’t have to create or invent or imagine it, just notice. Given that, it’s an easy step to see ways in which I can enact the Bodhisattva Vow. When I come home into familiar surroundings though, it’s equally easy to lapse into familiar habits. And that’s the beauty of retreating: the precious opportunity to take time out of our normal routines and dive in deep. Although I’ve been one of Bonni’s students for twenty years or more, it seemed this time, even more than ever, that the Teaching was coming through her in an extraordinarily clear and direct way; what a privilege it was to be there, in the company of a group of deeply focused and compassionate people.
So, what stood out? The falling away of words, and the image that Bonni used of training a puppy not with admonishments, but with love, allowed me to see that when there’s a constant commentary – the need to describe, explain, translate – there’s an infinitesimal space between direct experiencing and the interpretation, so I don’t fully perceive the direct experience. Now I understand the Biblical expression ‘looking through a glass darkly’ instead of ‘face to face’. It’s like looking at something with an eye to photographing it, or reading the blurb in an art gallery before actually looking at the painting. Much of the commentary that goes on in my head 24/7 is a rehearsal of a possible conversation in which I want to impress or gain approval.
It was such a relief to arrive at the centre again, after a few (too many) years’ absence. Sitting in class on the first morning, and every subsequent one for the fortnight, I felt a deep aaaaah, knowing I was in the right place and the right time. Precious too to see our beloved Wangapeka shaking off the Covid years as so many people work tirelessly to care for the land that nurtures all of us.