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Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.

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Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. tamaha 8/10/17 2:51 AM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. Peter S 8/13/17 12:50 AM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. tamaha 8/13/17 4:30 AM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. Daniel M. Ingram 8/13/17 5:53 AM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. Peter S 8/14/17 11:49 PM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. tamaha 8/15/17 6:02 AM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. Peter S 8/15/17 7:14 PM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. Yadid dee 8/17/17 10:39 AM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. Jinxed P 8/17/17 11:19 AM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. Oochdd 8/17/17 5:40 PM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. Peter S 8/18/17 12:18 AM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. Kim L 8/31/17 5:25 AM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. jhana sais quoi 8/31/17 10:39 AM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. tamaha 8/31/17 1:11 PM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. Kim L 8/31/17 3:26 PM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. Peter S 8/31/17 7:35 PM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. Yadid dee 9/6/17 2:05 PM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. tamaha 9/7/17 10:06 AM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. Yadid dee 8/18/17 5:04 AM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. tamaha 8/18/17 6:55 AM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. Peter S 8/18/17 8:02 PM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. Jinxed P 8/20/17 3:00 PM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. Cedar 8/22/17 1:39 PM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. Cedar 8/22/17 1:41 PM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. tamaha 8/29/17 11:27 AM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. jhana sais quoi 8/29/17 10:34 PM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. Peter S 8/30/17 2:16 AM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. tamaha 8/30/17 3:46 AM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. jhana sais quoi 8/31/17 10:46 AM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. Mantas 10/24/18 7:00 AM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. Yadid dee 8/30/17 5:08 AM
RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions. jhana sais quoi 8/30/17 12:51 PM
I will be practising in Panditarama, Lumbini in a couple of months, for around two months (or more if required). This will be my first long retreat and first experience of Mahasi retreat. Goal is to practice as diligently as possible and work towards Stream Entry.  Any tips / suggestions / warnings / are welcome with regards to preparation and practice there. Thanks!

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
Answer
8/13/17 12:50 AM as a reply to tamaha.
Hi Goutam

Good questions/points! I've been there 3 winters in a row, and will go again this year. I've also managed to get some off-retreat chats going with some others who practice there so have been able to check that these experiences were not mine alone. 

Firstly, the teachers are awesome and are two of my favourite humans in the world. I won't go on about them - you'll get to know them well. Secondly, the centre is generally excellent for practice - good food, good accom, and usually serious yogis all around. They allow only about 25 people at a time, so it's never crowded. The main drawbacks are: the growing noise outside the walls due to the Lumbini Peace Gardens becoming a crazy theme park for local youths to come and be wild, especially on weekends; and also the horrendous air pollution. But overall, it's a great place for practice. 

Normally I'd just say 'go for it!' But since you gave some details and also stated your goal, I'll try to make helpful suggestions. Firstly, if this is your first long retreat, plus your first Mahasi retreat, then I'd recommend taking it as it comes, which means being careful about setting big goals. It's hard work, and everyone progresses at their own pace. 2 months to SE is enough for some, nowhere near enough for others, plus all the possibilities in between. I've heard of experienced yogis practicing there for 4+ months and not quite cracking it. While there are also stories of others being there shorter times and finishing a path. So if it's any help to you, I'd say it's best just to work as hard as you can, and you'll be amazed at the progress you'll make, and the things you'll learn that you can't even imagine right now. My last retreat there - 3 months - has completely revolutionised my practice, and opened horizons of new Dhamma appreciation, as well as new goals for my practice. And that's more than I could've asked for, so I'm very grateful. 

To get up some momentum for a retreat, I find a minimum of 3 hours per day is good to get ready. But if you can't manage that, best to just be ready for the first few days to be tough while you settle in and get used to it. 

Here is a Dhamma Talk by the master in Lumbini when he was teaching at the IMS Forest Refuge a couple of months ago, where he gives the meditation instructions for the Mahasi method. It's a wonderful exposition of the technique. Plus, you can listen to a lot of other talks by Sayadaw U Vivekananda regarding insight there on the same site. http://imsfr.dharmaseed.org/teacher/186/talk/41259/

I'm not sure if any of this is helpful or answers your queries. I'm excited for you that you'll be there, as it's a wonderful place for serious practice. And I expect we'll be there at the same time as I'm also planning to begin there in about 2 months time. Let me know if there's anything else I can share with you. All the best, Dhamma friend!!!

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
Answer
8/13/17 4:30 AM as a reply to Peter S.
Thank you for replying, Peter!

To get up some momentum for a retreat, I find a minimum of 3 hours per day is good to get ready.
Although I would want to practice 3 hours a day now to prepare myself, unfortunately, I will not be able to allot so much time now. But I hope to increase in the coming weeks.

I'd recommend taking it as it comes, which means being careful about setting big goals.
Alright, I will keep in mind. But the reason for my goal of attaining SE is that it is the only thing I hope that can help me deal with the horrible existential crisis that I am in, for more than a decade now. Now, I have a strong feeling of 'enough is enough, let me get done with it'.  But who knows, as you said it, everyone's experience is different. 2 months might not be enough for SE but I might be in a much better position to deal with my existential suffering. The main goal is to come out of this crisis, and I am just hoping SE will help me achieve that, as nothing else (other than confidence in this path) seems to have helped me so far. 

I'm excited for you that you'll be there, as it's a wonderful place for serious practice. And I expect we'll be there at the same time as I'm also planning to begin there in about 2 months time.
Thank you. I am excited too, for serious practice. I will be there in October last week. Hope to see you!

Let me know if there's anything else I can share with you. 
I wanted to know to what extent the teacher, U Vivekananda is okay with the goal oriented approach by the students? I am aware that he is goal oriented himself while teaching. But, are we allowed to say something like- "I have come here to attain such and such a goal for such and such a reason"?  I ask this because they're pretty cautious about the constant 'self-diagnosing' tendency which is prevalent in the DhO community. And he specifically warned me against this over the phone interview, which is sensible. But will they be okay me expressing my goals?  Secondly, am I allowed to ask things like- "Is this a nana? Is this DN? What nana is this? etc."? Will he himself let me know about the stage I am in?

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
Answer
8/13/17 5:53 AM as a reply to tamaha.
Definitely avoid stage terminology, keep descriptions about bare phenomenology: what you experience in a direct sensate way with little to no interpretation if at all possible.

Keep practice focused on that moment and good technique rather than goals, maps, and paths: that stuff will just annoy them and it will slow you down.

Prove to them that you can practice noticing what is going on well and follow their instructions diligently and straightforwardly all day long: that will work best.

The maps should only be used by you to keep you on your best moment to moment contemplation of what arises, other than that they will just cause trouble.

You will be in the presence of competent teachers in a great setting: avoid comparison and analysis but note it if it arises, and instead have faith in the technique and simply work hard to pay attention to just what is going on that moment again and again and again: this is the way of insight.

Prove to them that you can be taught lots of map theory and yet not get all wrapped up in it. Be a good ambasador for this view by using the map terminology responsibly and appropriately, which in this case means don't use it at all.

I get plenty of reports of people going to Lumbini all jacked up on map theory and talkin' out their heads and doing crappy practice while getting all huffy about when they are going to get stream entry: don't be that guy!

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
Answer
8/14/17 11:49 PM as a reply to tamaha.
Hi Goutam

I agree a lot with Daniel's comments. You'll have a better relationship with the teachers if you stay focused during the interviews on describing your practice experiences, etc. The teachers will prompt you with questions anyway. 

I twice heard of students who, when leaving the centre, asked the teachers what ñana they'd attained, and the teachers stated that, due to their tradition, they cannot discuss those things directly. Remember you only need to talk about the essentials, so those things you mentioned aren't really necessary in the day-to-day grind of practice. Besides, when you're finished, you can read up on what you went through (the works of Mahasi Sayadaw are particularly useful) and it might all become clear then.

All the best on your retreat, friend!

Peter

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
Answer
8/15/17 6:02 AM as a reply to Peter S.
Thanks for the replies, Daniel and Peter.
Peter S

I twice heard of students who, when leaving the centre, asked the teachers what ñana they'd attained, and the teachers stated that, due to their tradition, they cannot discuss those things directly.

Alright, I will keep this in mind. I asked this because I had an impression that the teacher might be a bit open about the stages and goals after reading few reviews about the centre.  In Cem Keskin's review in the thread 'Panditarama Lumbini Incommunicado', he mentions this--

Cem Keskin :

He's a goal-oriented instructor and always seems to have Path and Fruition in mind....  
..... if you are a goal-oriented, earnest, gung-ho meditator, Sayadaw U Vivekananda is the kind of teacher you need.

Also on another forum, someone wrote: 
....As a response to questions from students he (U Vivekananda) said that if one wishes to go beyond their current stage and reach stream-entry and beyond, they should come sit a long retreat with him in Lumbini.

Hence, confusions. But the fact that he seems to have Path and Fruition in mind is quite relieving to hear.

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
Answer
8/15/17 7:14 PM as a reply to tamaha.
Yes I agree with all those comments you posted, but in practice he doesn't speak openly about where YOU are on the path. He gives Dhamma talks in which he describes the stages in detail, but he won't give you personal information on the stage you're at, and that kind of thing. He and the Sayalay are very clear that getting hung-up on attainments is a bigger impediment to practice than almost anything else. It was also my own experience there that craving attainments (or signs of progress) while being aversive to signs of setbacks can inhibit and slow down the practice, since a core component of progress is settling into a deep appreciation of equanimity in every aspect of one's experience. Craving doesn't sit well with equanimity, nor does the inevitable suffering when one's progress doesn't live up to expectations ;-)

All the best!

Peter

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
Answer
8/17/17 10:39 AM as a reply to tamaha.
I sat two long retreats in Lumbini:
2 months from Feb to April
3 months from Oct to Jan.

Best tips I can give you:

1. Practice very well, but also notice the tendency to try and be a super-yogi and judge yourself for every single lapse in mindfulness.

2. Follow the teachers instructions. Vivekananda asks very specific questions and these help you fine-tune and improve your practice. Keep these with you and follow back with whatever answers you came up to his questions to investigate in your experience.

3. Don't use any map terminology at all. It will piss off the teachers unless they first see that you are practicing very well and reporting the phenomenology that you should be. I saw a guy who was talking constantly about stages (he read Dan's book) to the point where it was very clear his experience was lagging way behind all of the mental masturbation. This may be going on to varying degress but try not to do that, whatever you're currently experiencing is way more important than map theory (or noticing any thoughts about map theory ;-)

4. Some people (including me) have gotten into some difficulties with the nun teacher there. Try your best to be very respectful, report clearly on your experiences, respect her answers and show her you're following her instructions. Yet also don't show much fear or trying to please her. Be straight-forward and simple and avoid all conflict if at all possible, these type of things are not fun to encounter on retreat.

5. Enjoy, Panditarama Lumbini is an ideal place to meditate, and has beautiful surroundings and teachings.

Feel free to ask anything.

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
Answer
8/17/17 11:19 AM as a reply to Yadid dee.
Yadid dee:
I sat two long retreats in Lumbini:
2 months from Feb to April
3 months from Oct to Jan.

Best tips I can give you:

1. Practice very well, but also notice the tendency to try and be a super-yogi and judge yourself for every single lapse in mindfulness.

2. Follow the teachers instructions. Vivekananda asks very specific questions and these help you fine-tune and improve your practice. Keep these with you and follow back with whatever answers you came up to his questions to investigate in your experience.

3. Don't use any map terminology at all. It will piss off the teachers unless they first see that you are practicing very well and reporting the phenomenology that you should be. I saw a guy who was talking constantly about stages (he read Dan's book) to the point where it was very clear his experience was lagging way behind all of the mental masturbation. This may be going on to varying degress but try not to do that, whatever you're currently experiencing is way more important than map theory (or noticing any thoughts about map theory ;-)

4. Some people (including me) have gotten into some difficulties with the nun teacher there. Try your best to be very respectful, report clearly on your experiences, respect her answers and show her you're following her instructions. Yet also don't show much fear or trying to please her. Be straight-forward and simple and avoid all conflict if at all possible, these type of things are not fun to encounter on retreat.

5. Enjoy, Panditarama Lumbini is an ideal place to meditate, and has beautiful surroundings and teachings.

Feel free to ask anything.
1. Would you mind talking about how much progress you made on each of these retreats? Like what can one realistically expect, what was your meditation experience before going on these retreats..

2. Where were you coming from and how much did the whole trip cost?

3. How were you able to get by financially, practically, for 5 months without working? Did you have a source of income coming in or did you save up?

4. What happens if you run out of say..toothpaste?

5.  Are there mosquitos?

6. How would you say Vivekanada's level of well-being is? Is he an embodiment that his teaching works?

7. How does Lumbini compare to the Panditarama retreat in Burma?

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
Answer
8/17/17 5:40 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Plus: 8. How is the air pollution? Was planning on going there in the spring but stories about the air pollution (meditating with a face mask on etc) put me off. What was your impression? 

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
Answer
8/18/17 12:18 AM as a reply to Jinxed P.
[quote=
]Hi, if I may be so bold as to dive in, since I've also sat in Lumbini quite a lot over the past 3 years. I won't answer progress/attainment questions because, although I started out totally into that stuff, I've come to agree with the teachers that it doesn't help one make progress, that it is ultimately a big paradox - if you really want to progress, you must learn to let it go. I hope you'll see that response in the constructive sense it's intended! 

2. Where from and how much?
You pretty much have to enter from Kathmandu (KTM), as the route overland through India requires an India visa (have to get this in advance so it's a hassle), and some days of travel from, say, Delhi. I usually fly into KTM from Kuala Lumpur with AirAsia as they're really cheap and reliable (can also fly in from Bangkok with Thai Air, or from HK with Cathay, or from various regional places with Nepal Air). Then I get a bus from KTM down to Lumbini, which takes 8-12 hours depending on road construction progress. I've never flown that leg, as the bus is cheap and I don't mind the long ride as I read/watch videos on my laptop. But if you hate long bus rides in dusty/poor countries, best to fly. Buddha Air does this route. I pay around USD100-200 to fly one way from Kuala Lumpur to KTM, then USD12/night in a guesthouse in KTM while stocking up on Dhamma books and supplies, etc, then around USD5 for a bus ticket. Also, as for donations at the centre, USD5/day or more is a generous amount considering the cost of survival in Nepal. So overall, not expensive at all!

3. How to get by financially during long retreats?
Having enough savings in the bank to get TO the retreat, and then get home FROM the retreat is really all you need. So it doesn't matter whether you spend a week or a year there, apart from the donation cost, the cost of such a trip is the same. If you happen to also have some way by which you passively earn income while in retreat (interest from investments/rent from a house) then you're riding high and it's all good. I'm a photographer and have built up a big stock of images with stock libraries, so a small income is there for me when not working, BUT I would still do the long retreats even if it wasn't. If you work a regular 9-5, then taking some unpaid leave on top of annual leave might be the only way. Or quitting and taking a sabbatical to ensure enough time for solid practice. 

4. What if you run out of stuff?
I buy supplies at the supermarket in KTM, including a big toothpaste tube, spare toothbrush, a big bottle of shampoo, etc, since there's no weight limit on the bus. But also, at the centre there's a table loaded up with pharmacy/drugstore type things that people have donated or left behind when they departed. Stuff like insect repellent, toothpaste, painkillers, batteries, washing powder, vitamins, etc. So it's really no worries. And if it's not there but important, the teachers have been known to send the staff out to get stuff from nearby markets/shops. Despite being at the far end of the country, it's really not too hard to survive there. 

5. Mosquitoes? 
Yes, except for the coldest few weeks of winter in January when it gets below 10 degrees C and they vanish. They're mostly not a big deal, although when the weather is warm they can be a hindrance. There are tall tubular mossie nets in the meditation hall, so you're safe there, and you can take one and set it up in your room too if you like to sit in there. Plus there are nets over the beds. If you spray on some repellent for walking, then you should be ok. Don't worry about malaria and all that - it's not one of those areas. Personally, I just treat them as another object to note. Hearing hearing, raising (hand), waving waving, etc ;-)

6. How is Vivekananda? 
This might be partly answered by reading Daniel Ingram's writings in MCTB on models of enlightenment. What exactly do you expect an accomplished meditator to be like? Considering the vast range of people and behaviours out there among advanced folks, I think it's hard to judge him by any such measures. Having said all that, I've spent a lot of time with him and have a deep admiration for his teachings, his way of life, and his personality. The only question is, how much of that is due solely to his years of practice? No comment. Personally I think it's only important to know he's a highly regarded teacher who has helped a lot of people make a lot of progress. If he also happens to walk a foot above the ground or, conversely, he swears like a trooper, then does it really matter? ;-)

7. Lumbini vs Burma?
I can't comment, but one thing is the famous 60-day retreat in Burma is run on the same fixed dates every year, whereas in Lumbini, you can book in when you want to. Plus, you need a special visa for meditation in Burma, whereas in Nepal a simple tourist visa on arrival at the airport/border is enough. But both places are highly regarded.

8. The extra question re pollution.
If you have respiratory issues such as asthma or severe hay fever, I'd advise against going there at all. The air quality fluctuates, but it's often bad, especially in winter when the air is trapped close to ground level and doesn't travel far. I noticed many people go through a few days of hard coughing at the start of a retreat, then get used to it. I don't know about meditating with a mask on, but that might help. I'd think about wearing one while walking outside on smoggy days. But I've also lived in Chinese cities that got severely bad press about pollution, and yet I'd often post online pics of crystal clear blue skies to show people the reality! So even the most polluted places have good days, and therefore a certain amount of luck is part of the equation. That's a way of saying, unless it's a big issue for you, don't let it stop you. Besides, the Sayadaw is working hard with international bodies and scientists to persuade the government to re-zone the industries away from there, which may eventually begin to happen. 

As for Yadid's comments about the nun, whom we call Sayalay, I've also heard of (and overheard) yogis getting a hard time from her. But my experience (and what I've overheard at times) is that she is immensely compassionate, and so she tempers her responses to a yogi based on what she thinks will get the most helpful reaction - so she may be harsh when she feels that's called for, or gentle and caring when that's called for. That's only my opinion, and others may believe she's unnecessarily hard on them. I've personally benefitted a lot from interactions with her. 

I hope some of that info helps, and apologies to Yadid for jumping in on the questions directed to you. I'd be interested to read your responses if they differ from mine. All the best, everyone!

Peter

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
Answer
8/18/17 5:04 AM as a reply to Jinxed P.
Jinxed P:
Yadid dee:
I sat two long retreats in Lumbini:
2 months from Feb to April
3 months from Oct to Jan.

Best tips I can give you:

1. Practice very well, but also notice the tendency to try and be a super-yogi and judge yourself for every single lapse in mindfulness.

2. Follow the teachers instructions. Vivekananda asks very specific questions and these help you fine-tune and improve your practice. Keep these with you and follow back with whatever answers you came up to his questions to investigate in your experience.

3. Don't use any map terminology at all. It will piss off the teachers unless they first see that you are practicing very well and reporting the phenomenology that you should be. I saw a guy who was talking constantly about stages (he read Dan's book) to the point where it was very clear his experience was lagging way behind all of the mental masturbation. This may be going on to varying degress but try not to do that, whatever you're currently experiencing is way more important than map theory (or noticing any thoughts about map theory ;-)

4. Some people (including me) have gotten into some difficulties with the nun teacher there. Try your best to be very respectful, report clearly on your experiences, respect her answers and show her you're following her instructions. Yet also don't show much fear or trying to please her. Be straight-forward and simple and avoid all conflict if at all possible, these type of things are not fun to encounter on retreat.

5. Enjoy, Panditarama Lumbini is an ideal place to meditate, and has beautiful surroundings and teachings.

Feel free to ask anything.
1. Would you mind talking about how much progress you made on each of these retreats? Like what can one realistically expect, what was your meditation experience before going on these retreats..

2. Where were you coming from and how much did the whole trip cost?

3. How were you able to get by financially, practically, for 5 months without working? Did you have a source of income coming in or did you save up?

4. What happens if you run out of say..toothpaste?

5.  Are there mosquitos?

6. How would you say Vivekanada's level of well-being is? Is he an embodiment that his teaching works?

7. How does Lumbini compare to the Panditarama retreat in Burma?
1. 1st nyana to low equanimity on first 2 month retreat (I've done many many retreats before - 8 or so years ).. Crazy other experiences and High Eq on 2nd retreat and possibly stream-entry, don't care anymore about attainment though, realised my obsession wasn't helping.

2. Came from Israel, don't remember costs. Doing a retreat is cheaper than daily living as you don't spend any money other than travel an dana. I always flew from KTM to Bhairawaha (150$ flight goddamn!). However when I left my last retreat I went down to India via Gorakhpur, this route is also nice via 2nd class or 3rd class AC sleeper trains from Delhi. You can probably get an Evisa to India if you need, unsure where you're coming from.

3.  saved up

4. You go out to the store in the village (ask permission), 10 minutes walk, buy some.

5. Sometimes yes, get mosquito incense spirals and Odomos (great Indian cream). Meditation mosquito nets for meditation are available.

6. I think so. He is who he is though. Personalities differ. I don't know him enough other than being his student to comment, but I vouch for him and think he is a beautiful teacher to learn from, very compassionate.

7. Never been to Burma but I've heard Lumbini is advisable.

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
Answer
8/18/17 6:55 AM as a reply to tamaha.
Thanks Yadid, for the suggestions. If I can ask one more question- Since you said you had 8 years of prior experience (possibly Goenka?), do you remember what stage you were in, if you knew, when you started out the first retreat?

I have few more questions to Peter / Yadid:

1. Do you guys recommend carrying some important books there to read like- Practical Insight Manual, etc? Or is it advised not to read anything there at all?

2. How often are we allowed to use our phones or internet to contact our family and check our important emails? Should we take their permission every time? Is it advisable to buy a Nepal number or internet connection before going there?

3. This is about Sayadaw’s Pronunciation/ accent. I had a difficult time with his pronunciation at some places, when I was listening to his audio and video talks and even while on phone conversation with him. He seems to add an extra sound (something like “satna”) in every two-three words, am I right? Seemed to confuse me a lot and made me lose track of what he was trying to say. I might get used to it later, but just want to confirm whether it is an extra sound that he adds or that if it is actually an important word that I’m missing.

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
Answer
8/18/17 8:02 PM as a reply to tamaha.
Hi Goutam

1. I always take a Dhamma book of some kind, but have found that carrying books like Manual of Insight, Practical Insight Med, etc, are because in fact I want to self-diagnose my progress, which ends up being a big impediment. So from now on I'll take a collection of suttas or the Dhammapada - just something for inspiration. But in fact, it's best not to read much as it's just more distraction, and the mind is hungrier for that than anything else!

2. My personal view is that communications like phone or internet are death to good practice. So hand in the phone/laptop for locking away. Tell everyone what you're doing before you go in, and put an auto-responder on your email, then let go of the whole thing. You can take back your phone any time (you may have to wait a little if the teachers are busy). There's also a landline phone for calling a taxi, etc. I always get a Nepal sim card in KTM, and use it before and after the retreat, but NEVER during. They have wifi in the dining hall for when you're leaving and need to book a flight or hotel, but not for regular use.

3. Haha, that's a very funny comment, I also noticed this the first time I encountered his teachings. But you get used to it. English is probably his 5th or 6th language so he has some interesting speaking habits. Still, no big deal. His Dhamma Talks are excellent, so you'll find it's worth the effort of getting used to his speech. 

I hope all of that helps!

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
Answer
8/20/17 3:00 PM as a reply to Peter S.
I really do want  to do one of these retreats. I'd say the biggest thing keeping me from going to Lumbini is the air pollution. I'll have to do more research on it. 

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
Answer
8/22/17 1:39 PM as a reply to Jinxed P.
In America there is Gyobutsuji Zen Monastery which has a really really intense Zazen schedule.  Kind of a mirror of the famous Antaiji in Japan.

Additionally Thai Forest places in the Ajahn Chah lineage of Wat Metta would be good for intensive practice!  Especially in a winter retreat setting.

Hope this helps!

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
Answer
8/22/17 1:41 PM as a reply to Cedar.
Or*

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
Answer
8/29/17 11:27 AM as a reply to Peter S.
Dear Peter,

Another question!  Sorry for the trouble. 

Are they very strict regarding not leaning against the wall and not meditating in our own rooms?
Have you seen anyone doing that, at least with permission? 

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
Answer
8/29/17 10:34 PM as a reply to tamaha.
Hiya Goutam,

I sat there for 3 months last winter, apparently with Yadid and Peter (hi guys!).  I would have done well to heed their advice on letting go of goals and expectations.  I went in with a timeline for particular attainments, and became terribly confused and upset at a perceived lack of progress.  Eventually the practice itself largely wrung out of me most of my grasping for progress, which was a rather painful process but that left me much lighter, for now anyway.  There are so many good tips from Daniel, Yadid, and, Peter that i suggest you read this while thread at least once more before your retreat.

Regarding sitting next to a wall: that's no problem.  They also have chairs set up around the room that you're free to use whenever you'd like, and you can set up a mosquito net over any chair to sort of make it your home base.  The teachers want to help you develop in intuitive wisdom, not degrade patellar cartilage.

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
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8/30/17 2:16 AM as a reply to jhana sais quoi.
Haha, yes I know exactly what you mean about the attainments and expectations. It kind of got wrung out of me too. I've found since that retreat that I'm basking in a world of acceptance and equanimity, which has been an awesome development in the practice. Looking forward to the next go at Lumbini. 

I agree with all of the above comments re chairs and leaning, etc. I saw at least one yogi sitting on a cushion up against a wall, and plenty of people using chairs when needed, and sitting in your room is absolutely fine - everyone does it I believe. The centre is run in a way that is very hands-off, leaving it up to you as an adult to ensure you're sticking to the routine and the practice. Of course, if the teachers sense (via the interviews) that a yogi is not working hard, they'll pressure them to leave. But if you're a sincere meditator, that won't be a problem. 

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
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8/30/17 3:46 AM as a reply to Peter S.
Hey JSQ and Peter, thanks for the replies.

That is quite relieving to hear. I ask this because in the link that Peter shared above, I noticed U Vivekananda saying it is very important to not lean against the wall or chair. Since I have a chronic buttock pain issue, I might have to keep doing this often. Fortunately in Mahasi tradition, there won’t be too much sitting compared to the Goenka. But I am still worried that I might not be able to sit for a long time in the retreat, since it is my first month-long retreat. I am just hoping it won’t bother me much when I am at the centre. I have been planning for this retreat for so long now and me ending it prematurely just because of the pain is the last thing I want.

And coming to the goals and expectations, yes, I will try letting go of all the expectations that might have accumulated so far in me. If such a thought arises, I will sincerely note it as ‘future mind’ or ‘expecting mind’, etc. I hope it is okay to admit to the teacher that I noted a lot of ‘expecting mind’ over the day?

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
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8/30/17 5:08 AM as a reply to jhana sais quoi.
jhana sais quoi:
Hiya Goutam,

I sat there for 3 months last winter, apparently with Yadid and Peter (hi guys!).  I would have done well to heed their advice on letting go of goals and expectations.  I went in with a timeline for particular attainments, and became terribly confused and upset at a perceived lack of progress.  Eventually the practice itself largely wrung out of me most of my grasping for progress, which was a rather painful process but that left me much lighter, for now anyway.  There are so many good tips from Daniel, Yadid, and, Peter that i suggest you read this while thread at least once more before your retreat.

Regarding sitting next to a wall: that's no problem.  They also have chairs set up around the room that you're free to use whenever you'd like, and you can set up a mosquito net over any chair to sort of make it your home base.  The teachers want to help you develop in intuitive wisdom, not degrade patellar cartilage.

Hi Jhana,

If you remind me how you look roughly or where you sat I could remember!

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
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8/30/17 12:51 PM as a reply to Yadid dee.
Yadid,
I sat behind you in the hall and interviewed right after you.  I wore the red blanket and probably looked pretty miserable most of the time haha.  I sat behind Peter, too, I think (purple blanket?)

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
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8/31/17 10:46 AM as a reply to tamaha.
Hey Goutam,

In reference to expectations, it sounds like you have some understanding already that thoughts of and cravings for progress or self-diagnosis will arise on their own. Trying to suppress the arising of such thoughts in a vipassana practice would be its own sort of craving, maybe vibhava tanha (craving to not be, ie craving to not have these thoughts). So yes, just labelling / noticing the thoughts and cravings for progress without getting tangled up in them is a good approach.  Like I said, and Peter seemed to corroborate, the practice will take care of excessive mental activity in this area, although having it "wrung out" of me was not at all pleasant. I'd wager Peter didn't find the wringing out part pleasant either. 

Regarding talking about the progress of insight, After about 10 days of practice, I mentioned during an interview that I was familiar with the progress of insight, and the Sayadaw quickly shut me down. He had no interest in hearing about where I thought I was or in previous my meditation experiences, about which I was hoping to get some clarity. I think that colored his view of me for awhile, too, in that he seemed to be looking for signs that I was self diagnosing, so I was very careful to leave out language associated with nanas in my interviews. I think had I not mentioned familiarity with the progress of insight, my stay at Lumbini would have been easier. I went after reading Cem Keskin's thread (mentioned above), and I was under the impression that they were very casual and open about progress.

This is probably a topic for another thread, but, given that self diagnosing and craving for progress on a retreat is a hindrance, I wonder why they give talks about the nanas. I appreciated the theory in those talks but I was pretty confused because I wasnt sure if I should try to apply the practical bits to my own practice. It also seems like, in the long run (multiple long retreats spread over years or decades) Sayadaw Vivekananda excepts practitioners to develop a sense of where they are in the progress of insight. I wonder if, after attaining a verified path or two, he opens up a little with his diagnoses.

I want to touch on working with the Sayalay, too.  From the first moment I arrived in Lumbini, she seemed predisposed to treat me brusquely or even with contempt. I went to her office on my first day to give initial dana, and she seemed angry at me. Our interactions did not improve very much from that point. She ultimately kicked me out after three months on the grounds that I needed supervision when both teachers were leaving for a week or two. My view is that my practice was very robust at that point and I could have maintained my practice on the moon. I'm trying to be respectful and sort of maintain my anonymity because I might like to go back, but I might also choose to sit elsewhere next time due to how I was treated. I've talked to a few other yogis that were there, and I wasn't alone in feeling that I was treated unfairly. Yadid's advice on 8/17/17 is pretty much spot on, and how I tried to relate to her but in the end it wasnt quite enough. All that said, some of her meditation instructions, while seeming generic, were really helpful at times.

Hope this helps!

EDIT: wrt craving for progress & harsh self evaluation, I found that huge doses of self forgiveness were helpful. Realizing that I'm not perfect and these thoughts will arise and I'll get tangled in them and then forgiving myself for it was a necessary step for me to start to move away from it. With my constitution, I found myself getting very tight around practice, especially with daily interviews, and easing up a little at times seemed necessary. Maybe your constitution is different, so this might be such a skillfull tactic for you.

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
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8/31/17 5:25 AM as a reply to Peter S.
Hey everyone,

I'm kind of a newbie here on the forum, so not sure whether to reply here or start a new topic, but let's try this.

After some long consultation I decided that Panditarama Lumbini, with Ven. Vivekananda as teacher, is probably one of the best places to currently go for a retreat (that is also not expensive).

So I sent them an email two weeks ago, then a FB-message a week ago and today I tried to call them. The number does not work and my messages have gotten no reply so far. 

Do I just need to be more patient and wait? 

Do I need to be more resilient and message them again to show my perseverance?

Is there another way, a tone to take, something to do I'm not aware of?

I'm quite motivated, but not sure how to show this. I want to be polite but am not sure what that actually entails.

How long did it take before they replied to your messages? What should I do?

Thanks!

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
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8/31/17 10:39 AM as a reply to Kim L.
Hi Kim,
I suggest practicing patience.  You're not the first one to post on DhO about this.  If you use any tone besides respect they probably will not accept you as a retreatant. This applies to the nun especially, who handles most of the administrative stuff. (A few tips for when you meet her:  bow three times and hold your hands I as if in prayer-palms together over your chest. If/when you interview with her, if sitting in a chair, keep both feet on the floor (not cross legged)).  There are some peculiarities with PLIVMC but all in all its a great place to practice.

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
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8/31/17 1:11 PM as a reply to Kim L.

Kim L:

So I sent them an email two weeks ago, then a FB-message a week ago and today I tried to call them. The number does not work and my messages have gotten no reply so far. 

That is expected. You just have to repeat these steps, that's all. And what time did you call them? Try calling them during the lunch time which is around 11 am to 1 pm local time. Chances are Sayadaw himself will pick up the phone. Good luck!

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
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8/31/17 3:26 PM as a reply to tamaha.
Thank you both for your quick replies.

I will practise some patience and then send another email, elaborating maybe a bit more on my motivation.

Then I will call again, trying Nepali lunch time emoticon

Of course I have tried to be respectful from the start, I just hope I didn't offend someone out of sheer naivety...

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
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8/31/17 7:35 PM as a reply to Kim L.
Good questions! And we've all been through the waiting process when trying to get in at Lumbini. Also note that the local power supply went down a week or so back, and the govt had to replace a transformer, which I believe has only just been done, with only an occasional return of power supply. So I expect Sayalay (the nun teacher) is not getting much time online lately. Fortunately Sayadaw (the monk teacher) has alerted me to the above in the meantime. 

The phone goes unanswered most of the time, it seems. 

In response to jhana, yes! Having all that clinging wrung out of us comes at a great cost of pain and suffering, like seeing one's practice fall back over and over while throwing the hands up in despair, suffering the same old seemingly pointless pains and mental torments over and over. Until one day you realise that just practicing to practice without pushing for things to be other than they are resolves a lot of that. Nowadays, just sitting has become a reward in itself. 

I've tried to recall faces but I can't recall who you are, and only just recall Yadid, because he sat beside me - I stayed on for another 2 months after that so many faces passed by. Besides, I was very busy studying the floor for over 3 months and got to know people by their shoes, so it's nothing personal ;-) Lol. Yes, a purple blanket. It got a lot of use. I washed it after a couple of months - the water was black!!

I've heard these various reports about the Sayalay - re her being harsh or discouraging towards yogis. And I respect that's what those people experienced, but I've only ever experienced encouragement and even warmth. I have no idea why she's been like that to me - I've done nothing but give headaches to the teachers! Moaning about my practice not being up to standard, etc. But I did notice that whenever I quoted a sutta or discussed how awesome the Buddha was, we bonded nicely. I suspect she likes to push/pummel some people while warmly encouraging others, depending on what she thinks they'll work harder in response to. Or maybe not. I don't want to suggest those people didn't experience some unpleasant stuff. Overall, I think she and the Sayadaw are two awesome humans, and I always look forward to going back there and spending as much time with them as possible to soak up as much of their energy and compassion as possible. So I expect you'll eventually find all is good. 

All the best in your practice!

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
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9/6/17 2:05 PM as a reply to Peter S.
I had a great relationship with Sayadaw, but with Sayalay experienced some conflict.

I'm sure she is a very compassionate and wise human being, however she does seem to have some human flaws as we all do, and one seems like anger and the need to be in control and some hard time dealing with conflict.

As I was sitting there, I saw a new meditator who never practiced Vipassana in the past. He was British and very submissive in some way, and I could see his interviews as I was after him. 

The interesting thing was to see the two different approaches of the two different teachers.
The guy kept begging for them to let him stay more than two weeks or so, but Sayalay kept making him think that he is not working hard enough to overcome sleepiness that he reported comes up sometimes. She said she will not extend his stay if he doesnt make more effort.

Sayadaw, however, kept encouraging this guy, as he was complaining about the sleepiness. "It is just a temporary mental phenomena, observe it and you will see it subsides over time".

Sayalay, kept pushing him.

Two days later, the guy left due to the trouble with the sleepiness.

I have heard more difficulties arose for many meditators in the past due to her approach.

Quite unfortunate, and in some ways it is terrible to have to handle this stuff on retreat and all it brings up, but in another way its an ideal time to meet these things.

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
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9/7/17 10:06 AM as a reply to Yadid dee.
Yadid dee:
I had a great relationship with Sayadaw, but with Sayalay experienced some conflict.

I'm sure she is a very compassionate and wise human being, however she does seem to have some human flaws as we all do, and one seems like anger and the need to be in control and some hard time dealing with conflict.

As I was sitting there, I saw a new meditator who never practiced Vipassana in the past. He was British and very submissive in some way, and I could see his interviews as I was after him. 

The interesting thing was to see the two different approaches of the two different teachers.
The guy kept begging for them to let him stay more than two weeks or so, but Sayalay kept making him think that he is not working hard enough to overcome sleepiness that he reported comes up sometimes. She said she will not extend his stay if he doesnt make more effort.

Sayadaw, however, kept encouraging this guy, as he was complaining about the sleepiness. "It is just a temporary mental phenomena, observe it and you will see it subsides over time".

Sayalay, kept pushing him.

Two days later, the guy left due to the trouble with the sleepiness.

I have heard more difficulties arose for many meditators in the past due to her approach.

Quite unfortunate, and in some ways it is terrible to have to handle this stuff on retreat and all it brings up, but in another way its an ideal time to meet these things.


That's very unfortunate. Reading Daniel's 'Models of Enlightenment' really helped me with wrt having expectations from the teachers. In two retreats, I had issues with the teachers and it put me off for quite sometime during the retreat. In one of those retreats I was depressed and lost interest for 3 days because one of the assistant teachers was so rude and insensitive. Back then I was a strong believer of emotional models, psychological models, etc. Haha! emoticon. I wasn't aware of the flaws of these models, then. And I couldn't believe even teachers with decades of experience could act in this manner. It left me dejected, depressed and hopeless for days. I understand how difficult it is to have these things come up in retreats especially when there are high expectations from the teachers. I feel I am in a much better position to handle these stuffs now. Thank you all, for warning about these issues!

RE: Panditarama, Lumbini -long retreat suggestions.
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10/24/18 7:00 AM as a reply to tamaha.
Hi Folks,

I am going to Lumbini in December through February. From your experience is a sleeping bag needed there in winter?

Thank you!
M