Just in case you missed it, registration for the Light of the Path retreat hosted by the FPMT Kadampa Center opened several weeks ago. This is a “must attend” for anyone who wants to be immersed in Tibetan Buddhism and who enjoys Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s energizing and captivating style of teaching. It’s a rare opportunity on the East Coast to be amongst so many sangha (at least rare in the Gelukpa tradition) and serious lay practitioners. Over 200 people attended in 2009. I spoke with a woman from New Jersey who said she knew very little about Buddhism but when she heard about the retreat and Lama Zopa knew immediately that she had to drop everything and go. She made a lot of friends and enjoyed herself.
Last September, a typical day started with an opportunity to take the 8 Mahayana Precepts followed by the Lama Chopa guru prayer and other morning prayers. Lama Zopa Rinpoche taught a session after breakfast. We observed silence until after lunch (or at least we tried to!). There was a discussion led by a senior sangha in the gompa after lunch as well as smaller, less formal discussion groups with other sangha. The informal groups met outside on the wide veranda of Lee Hall, students and teachers sat in rocking chairs in the sunshine looking out at the distant mountains. There was plenty of time for walks in the woods — complete with exciting black bear encounters.
After dinner Lama Zopa taught a final session and led the dedication prayers. We wrapped up about midnight, although the last night of the retreat I think we ended around 2 am. Then we walked back up the steep hill to the housing area, or caught a ride from the ever-cheerful volunteers who ferried people back and forth.
I stayed in Lee Hall in a double room which I shared with a terrific nun who came all the way from Australia just to attend the retreat. The room had a very high ceiling, a hardwood floor, big window, and a private bathroom. It was clean, and the beds were comfortable. It did not have a table or telephone or alarm clock, nor did it have WiFi (although it is available in the common area). So if you bring a laptop and need to work, plan on doing it in the in the lobby and bring an extension cord as there are very few outlets.
This year the retreat runs from September 12 – 16, 2010. You can attend for just one week or a weekend, there are several options. Please check the Kadampa website for more information and registration details.
Hope to see you there!