Why Cultivate Unshakeable Stability?
If there is a dimension of reality that is absolutely still, unmoving, the ground of being from which all existence flows, then what kind of mind would one need to be able to dwell in its presence?
AND HOW WOULD THAT HELP OUR WORLD?
After more than twenty years of study, practice, and preparation, I entered a long-term retreat in silence, solitude, and thousands of hours of meditation to try and find out.
Why Long Retreat?
Since 2004, I spent three to eight weeks every year in solitary retreat, focusing on different aspects of the spiritual path in both Christian and Buddhist forms.
While the experience of regular short retreats can be profound and life-changing, I saw how difficult it was to sustain the necessary subtlety – during an active daily life – in practices that were designed to evolve over the course of months and years in a stable retreat environment.
In August 2017, I entered a retreat hermitage in the high desert of the Eastern Sierras, in California, to begin a series of strict retreats: three months, six months, and so on, building up stamina, stability, fundamental balance, and inner silence. In September 2018, I moved off the grid to Colorado, where I stayed in two different remote retreat locations through the end March of 2020.
After successfully completing more than two-and-a-half years of retreat -- and right as we were all reeling from the pandemic -- I had the opportunity to assist my teacher, B. Alan Wallace, in founding a new retreat center in Crestone, Colorado, not far from where I had been in solitary retreat for so long.
This retreat center is called the Center for Contemplative Research at Miyo Samten Ling, which in Tibetan means the "Hermitage of Unwavering Samadhi." I will remain here as a resident teacher and full-time meditator.
As always, the key to meaningful retreat practice is to be able to focus entirely on meditation, until it is natural to sit unmoving for many hours at a time. This requires optimization of physical, spiritual, intellectual, and emotional energy, in order to offer greater and greater freedom to access the deeper layers of the mind. For that to take place, it is essential that there be no other demands pulling one's mind away from the practice. This is the lifestyle I have sought to cultivate over the last few years.
Even when acting as a spiritual teacher, I remain without formal income and rely on the generosity of donors. Therefore, if you feel drawn to it, I would be most grateful for your help to support my basic needs in retreat at Miyo Samten Ling. I have already discovered the power of a Circle of Support, in which many people, each offering a modest amount each month, have become directly involved in the purpose and enactment of my practice in solitude. Each one of you is included in my heart and daily prayers, as part of our united efforts to benefit our world in so many different ways.
Please see the Circle of Support page for details on how to make a regular monthly donation that will go directly to cover my personal expenses while in retreat.
As before, I will continue to take two to three months each year to emerge from my hermitage, and to share what I have learned – both as a scholar and as a practitioner – by leading short intensive courses and collaborating with Alan Wallace to lead longer group retreats. For the forseeable future, these will all be held online. If you are interested in hosting such events within your own communities, whether Christian or Buddhist, please write to me from the Contact page.