A New Six-Year Retreat at Thrangu Sekhar Retreat Center
Today, 9th February 2020 (15th of the twelfth month of the Tibetan calendar), sees 32 international practitioners embarking on a new six-year cycle of retreat. The retreatants will be doing four practice sessions together as a group everyday, beginning with the four contemplations that turn the mind to the dharma, and the practice of refuge and the awakening mind. The sessions will be attended by Drupon Khen Rinpoche who will impart instructions and will himself be practising with the group throughout all the stages of their retreat, from contemplating, reciting and prostrating, to the meditation of the actual practice. A further 26 retreatants who are in the fifth year of their retreat will also join the sessions. They now have the precious opportunity to repeat the earlier stages of the programme, this time in group sessions with Drupon Khen Rinpoche, while still receiving instructions specific to the fifth year. Altogether there are now 58 international retreatants from over twenty countries practising full-time in long retreat at Thrangu Sekhar, as well as the sixteen lamas and five nuns who are participating in the Thrangu three-year, three fortnight retreat.
THE SIX YEAR PROGRAMME
Year one: preliminaries
Year two: mind training
Year three: vajrasattava
Year four: calm abiding meditation
Years five and six: insight meditation
A TYPICAL DAY
The retreatants will be doing four two-hour practice sessions together as a group everyday, with Drupon Khen Rinpoche. The day formally starts at 5am and finishes at 9pm. They will also attend one or two dharma teachings daily. The main teachings currently being given are: The Ornament of Precious Liberation and The Highest Continuum. The members of Marpa Translation Society provide oral translation for the teachings and work on various written translation projects, such as Gampopa’s collected works, during the breaks.
A DIFFERENT APPROACH
Drupon Khen Rinpoche has been teaching retreatants for over 25 years and has come to see that the normal classroom style of teaching is not the most effective way to impart the instructions, and nor does it seem that this was the way of old. For these reasons Rinpoche has decided to take a different approach with this new cycle of retreat. Instead of teaching the practices from texts in a class, he will attend all sessions himself and will provide instructions for the students to contemplate there and then, in the sessions, ‘live’ so to speak. The hope is that this will enable the students to directly apply and recognise the dharma within their own minds, taking them beyond the outer words and forms of the different practices. This is taught to be where the real transformation of mind can take place.