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Feel the need to go on a long retreat after college

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As the title says, I have an urge to go on a long retreat mainly to move on from the dark night and get stream entry. Ill provide some background about myself and explain my current situation. Hopefully some of the more experienced members of this board can give me some advice and point me in the right direction.

I am 22 years old, from the US, and in my final semester of college. I have an opportunity to go on retreat soon after I graduate, sometime during the transition period between school and a job. I have no prior retreat experience and little meditation experience even though I meditate on a daily basis. I am also trying to start my own company with a friend of mine, something that seems promising, but due to my current state of being I feel like it is too big of a burden and puts a lot of stress on me. This start up, the job hunt, and class/school work are the main things I am currently working on. I do find time in the morning and during the day to meditate but I don't feel like I am progressing at a fast enough rate, if at all. I feel like my current practice and lifestyle (nutrition, exercise, sleep) are the main factors that help me deal with the dark night to make it less of an issue in my life. However I have this constant feeling that I am uneasy and the main word to describe my state of consciousness is 'spacey'.

I am 100% sure that I am dicking around the stages of the dark night. I started a thread a while ago with the reason why I believe I have crossed the A&P and am currently in the dn stages. I can clarify this further if necessary. My main practice consists of 20 minute sits where I concentrate on my breath. This helps stabilize me throughout the day but does not give me any insight. In terms of MTCB, I am reading through it now.

Anyway, I think it would be extremely beneficial for me if I put life on hold in order to make progress (hopefully fast) through the DN or even further. My idea would be to go on retreat here in the US or somewhere else. I have not done any research on retreat centers yet because I am hoping to get some advice here before doing that.

Other than the feeling I have for needing to go on retreat, I have noticed on these forums that many people go on retreat early on in their quests. It has proven beneficial and further backs up my motivation to go on retreat as well.

Thanks guys.

RE: Feel the need to go on a long retreat after college
Answer
2/22/14 8:36 PM as a reply to Jake.
Hi Jake WM,

As the title says, I have an urge to go on a long retreat mainly to move on from the dark night and get stream entry.

(...)

I am 100% sure that I am dicking around the stages of the dark night. I started a thread a while ago with the reason why I believe I have crossed the A&P and am currently in the dn stages. I can clarify this further if necessary.

(...)

Other than the feeling I have for needing to go on retreat, I have noticed on these forums that many people go on retreat early on in their quests. It has proven beneficial and further backs up my motivation to go on retreat as well.
Adding to this thread for anyone who's reading ~ here's a sort of standard cautionary note: retreat centers, lay and monastic, can be chock full of other people (again, lay and monastic) who are also dwelling in the "dukkha nanas", even the person who has been designated (by you or others) as "the teacher" or whoever has designated themselves "the teacher", paid or free. Even a teacher with a touted reputation can be teaching from, say, a mind of arrogance, promoting its own expression/views over those of others.

Here are some guidelines for dharma teaching in the Pali tradition, paraphrased, from the Anguttara Nikaya 5.15 (to Udayi, transl. Thanissaro, reprinted AccesstoInsight):
A dharma teacher teaches:
1- step-by-step
2- cause and effect (also commonly known as: "continent identity", "inter-being", "co-arising", "dependent origination")
3- with a mind of compassion
4- not for the purpose of material gains (including status)
5- without disparaging self or others


So if one goes on retreat (be it lay-led or monastic), one may have to work hard to be "an island unto oneself," doing chores and all group activities without mixing own-pain with pain-of-others (which pains can appear as depression as much as malice). Three of the brahamviharas (kindness, altruistic joy, compassion) are sane reactive emotional states; equanimity (the fourth brahmavihara) is a deep safe harbor, however it can be mistaken with cool aloofness/conceit/superiority when one is still in dark night terrain.

Maha-parinibbana Sutta (Digha Nikaya 16, translation: Vajira and Story, printed by AccesstoInsight):
33. "Therefore, Ananda, be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge, seeking no other refuge.

"And how, Ananda, is a bhikkhu an island unto himself, a refuge unto himself, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as his island, the Dhamma as his refuge, seeking no other refuge?

34. "When he dwells contemplating the body in the body, earnestly, clearly comprehending, and mindfully, after having overcome desire and sorrow in regard to the world; when he dwells contemplating feelings in feelings, the mind in the mind, and mental objects in mental objects, earnestly, clearly comprehending, and mindfully, after having overcome desire and sorrow in regard to the world, then, truly, he is an island unto himself, a refuge unto himself, seeking no external refuge; having the Dhamma as his island, the Dhamma as his refuge, seeking no other refuge.

35. "Those bhikkhus of mine, Ananda, who now or after I am gone, abide as an island unto themselves, as a refuge unto themselves, seeking no other refuge; having the Dhamma as their island and refuge, seeking no other refuge: it is they who will become the highest, [20] if they have the desire to learn."
One takes up a practice in which own mind is calming, not stressed, and not provoked into the hindrances (ill-will, craving, confusion, doubt, dullness). Nothing esoteric: Just developing the mind into calmness so that it can develop understanding of itself and objects it contacts, including the senses and its own consciousness and others.

Best wishes, retreatants! emoticon


[edited: link correction and some grammar]

RE: Feel the need to go on a long retreat after college
Answer
2/23/14 5:38 AM as a reply to Jake.
Jake WM:
. Hopefully some of the more experienced members of this board can give me some advice and point me in the right direction.
.


Please don't take any advice from me or take anything I say seriously as I am not an experienced member.

Jake WM:

I am 22 years old, from the US, and in my final semester of college. I have an opportunity to go on retreat soon after I graduate, sometime during the transition period between school and a job.


Difficult time isn't it!?

Jake WM:

I have no prior retreat experience and little meditation experience even though I meditate on a daily basis. I am also trying to start my own company with a friend of mine, something that seems promising, but due to my current state of being I feel like it is too big of a burden and puts a lot of stress on me.


Yes, it does sound stressful and a burden, trying to start a new company, particularly while trying to graduate.

Jake WM:

This start up, the job hunt, and class/school work are the main things I am currently working on. I do find time in the morning and during the day to meditate but I don't feel like I am progressing at a fast enough rate, if at all.


Sounds like you are very busy, and don't have much time to do meditation.

Jake WM:

I feel like my current practice and lifestyle (nutrition, exercise, sleep) are the main factors that help me deal with the dark night to make it less of an issue in my life.


Eating well, sleeping well, exercising. These are good things to do while going through dark nights and bright days and those things in between.

Jake WM:

However I have this constant feeling that I am uneasy and the main word to describe my state of consciousness is 'spacey'.


Hmmm. Uneasy, eh? Feelings stressed and overwhelmed?

Hmm...could that be anything to do with....life?

Jake WM:

I am 100% sure that I am dicking around the stages of the dark night. I started a thread a while ago with the reason why I believe I have crossed the A&P and am currently in the dn stages. I can clarify this further if necessary.


100% sure? Are you rounding up? Are you 100% sure the dark night that you are in even exists as a coherent concept?

Jake WM:

My main practice consists of 20 minute sits where I concentrate on my breath. This helps stabilize me throughout the day but does not give me any insight. In terms of MTCB, I am reading through it now.


Do you have any large bags of salt? Would you able to take large pinches from them continually while reading that tome? Say, about every 4-5 seconds?

Jake WM:

Anyway, I think it would be extremely beneficial for me if I put life on hold in order to make progress (hopefully fast) through the DN or even further.


What do you think that thing you will doing is on retreat which doesn't involve living your life? Is putting life on hold your way of saying avoiding?

Jake WM:

Other than the feeling I have for needing to go on retreat, I have noticed on these forums that many people go on retreat early on in their quests. It has proven beneficial and further backs up my motivation to go on retreat as well.


Going on retreat will make you better at meditation, for shizzle. Not sure how much it will help you getting a job or starting up a new company. It will probably help you forget about those problems for a while though.

RE: Feel the need to go on a long retreat after college
Answer
2/26/14 8:55 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Thanks saw foot you really made me realize how absurd I was sounding.

What the F is the dark night? A concept? Why do I feel like this? Why do the things I feel coincide with what everyone else has felt at this particular time? The shit is going ON

RE: Feel the need to go on a long retreat after college
Answer
2/26/14 3:38 PM as a reply to Jake.
Jake WM:
Thanks saw foot you really made me realize how absurd I was sounding.

What the F is the dark night? A concept? Why do I feel like this? Why do the things I feel coincide with what everyone else has felt at this particular time? The shit is going ON


Jake, I wouldn't say you are sounding absurd, and I am sorry if I am not being very helpful and confusing matters. This is going to happen on a site like this where you will get conflicting opinions. What I would say (which is just my humble opinion), is that you want to be happy in life it helps for life to have some meaning. Reading "the power of now" and having your world turned upside down has left you in a different place, where perhaps some of your notions of how life is and should be has been uprooted. People seek to find meaning in different places. A successful career, a good family, earning lots of money, or the search for enlightenment...I can't really say if going on retreat and searching for meaning that way is any better or worse that starting up a business and that kind of path. And many say that to overcome the dark night (whatever that is) is about acceptance - dealing with circumstances of your life, not running away from pain or stress. So this was perception that you were looking for an escape.

This shit is real and is not real. I would say don't take anyone's word for it (use those pinches of salt). To a large degree you have to figure it for yourself, and don't believe everything you read as gospel (like once you are in the dark night you are stuck there as a dark night yogi cycling forever). If you believe these things strongly enough they can become self fulfilling prophecies and you can easily start to make mistaken casual attributions which leads to problems (feeling anxious about being in the dark night makes you anxious etc...).

Just chill! Go to the gym, sleep, work hard, eat well, drink, be well, and be merry.

RE: Feel the need to go on a long retreat after college
Answer
2/26/14 7:17 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:

I can't really say if going on retreat and searching for meaning that way is any better or worse that starting up a business and that kind of path. And many say that to overcome the dark night (whatever that is) is about acceptance - dealing with circumstances of your life, not running away from pain or stress. So this was perception that you were looking for an escape.


You're right, I think I am looking for an escape. If I did go on retreat with that mindset, I would probably be in for a huge shock because I would realize that it is not fixing anything. During the time I had posted this thread, I was in a strange place. I still am but I have calmed down a bit over the past few days.

In terms of the business and all my other endeavors that aren't meditation, I find joy in those activities and will continue to do them.

sawfoot _:
This shit is real and is not real. I would say don't take anyone's word for it (use those pinches of salt). To a large degree you have to figure it for yourself, and don't believe everything you read as gospel (like once you are in the dark night you are stuck there as a dark night yogi cycling forever). If you believe these things strongly enough they can become self fulfilling prophecies and you can easily start to make mistaken casual attributions which leads to problems (feeling anxious about being in the dark night makes you anxious etc...).


I can't comprehend how this is real and not real, but thats not a big deal. It feels real to me and I am doing my best at not getting attached to any mental stories. It has been a challenge and I have failed many times but I have learned. Thanks for the heads up too.

sawfoot _:
Just chill! Go to the gym, sleep, work hard, eat well, drink, be well, and be merry.

Right on man, thats the plan.

I appreciate your post and I enjoyed reading your perspective on things. Thank you!