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Question:

Didi, please would you advise on how to prepare for my upcoming 10-day long Buddha retreat?

Answer:

Irrespective of whether you are enrolled in the Satipatthana retreat or the Jhana retreat or the Metta retreat, everyone goes into a higher level of understanding of inner quietness. These levels of understanding are called Jhanas. In short, they are nothing but levels of understanding oneself. Jhanas are nothing but developing an inner connectedness with oneself.

Jhanas happen automatically and are not something you can enter by desiring them. Jhanas are born out of the joy of seclusion. Seclusion here means being away from sensual pleasures. This happens in the following natural steps:

1] When one is away from sensual pleasures, the thoughts start settling down.

2] Thoughts are always accompanied by their spouses called sensations or feelings. When thoughts settle, sensations/feelings also settle.

3] Every thought-feeling couple is enveloped in a cloud of feverishness. This feverishness or restlessness is of nothing else but a ‘like [raaga]’ or ‘dislike [dvesha]’. This cloud cover of raaga-dvesha also settles down.

4] The culmination of this feverishness/craving brings relief from the previous activity of ‘incessant thinking’.

5] That relief expresses itself as a subtle joy that is experienced in the entire body as subtle sensations. Jhana 1 has happened to you automatically.

You must have encountered this automatic and natural happening on any retreat or quiet long silent spiritual sabbatical at home provided you let go of the thoughts and simply relax into the warm lap of quietness within.

This quietness then develops into the next Jhana automatically, which leads to the next Jhana, one does not have to do anything. It is like a flow that goes from 1 Jhana to the next to the next.

In the individual meditation mentorship 1:1 session, we will discuss:

–       where have you reached in your individual meditation practice?

–       what is your hindrance in meditation?

–       how can you overcome the hindrance so as to naturally progress to the next Jhana level?

If this understanding is clear that only refraining from sensual pleasures can help one relax the feverishness of thoughts in the mind, then one is advised to make the following efforts in that direction in order to have the best results from their upcoming personal retreat:

3 months before the retreat:

–       Build your awareness by asking yourself repeatedly, ‘Am I aware?’

–       Be strict about the vows that build wholesomeness in you:

  • I will not lie even if others do.
  • I will not hurt/harm even if others do.
  • I will not take that which is not given to me, even if others do.

[Those interested in more vows can read MN 8 – Effacement – Sallekha Sutta].

1 month before the retreat:

– The senior batch participants can do a weekend silent spiritual sabbatical. If required, we can do a phone 1:1 after your sabbatical. Send me an email – questions4ekta@gmail.com.

– The junior participants can skip this as you will learn about sabbaticals in your first long retreat.

[Senior participant is the one who has attended a 10-day retreat before. Junior participant is the one who will be attending the 10-day retreat for the first time].

2 weeks before the retreat:

Verbal Silence:

–       Cut down on unnecessary chit-chat and social gatherings outside of absolutely necessary areas like office/business/etc.

–       Go offline from all social media informing everyone that you are taking a ‘technology-detox break for 1 month’ and will be back after 1 month.

–       Reduce phone conversations to a minimum required.

Mental Silence:

–       Meditate on ‘observing reality’ by observing the breath, observing sensations or observing levels of inner quietness regularly.

 

Being in wisdom:

–       Senior batch can listen to more Buddha sutta videos by enrolling in Buddha Level 2 as well as repeating Level 1 suttas on the website – https://gnyanasangha.com/

–       Junior batch can repeat Buddha Level 1 suttas videos on the website – https://gnyanasangha.com/

–       You can read the other Suttas from the Nikayas if you want.

If you have no idea about the Buddha retreats and would like to learn more about them, please feel free to write to buddharetreatlevel1@gmail.com

Have a happy prep-time before we meet at the retreat!

Have questions? Reach out to Ekta by clicking on the “Ask a Question” button on the left sidebar. For attending Ekta’s online knowledge sessions, click the “Gnyana Sangha” button on the left sidebar.

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