Retreat and Solitude Series
Image courtesy of Matteo Pistono
Lotsawa House presents the following texts related to retreat (mtshams) and solitude (dben pa):
- From 'Finding Comfort and Ease in Meditation': A Guide to Locations for Cultivating Samadhi by Longchen Rabjam
The first chapter of Longchenpa's Finding Comfort and Ease in Meditation (samten ngalso), describing ideal environments and dwelling places for cultivating meditative concentration and insight throughout the year.
Longchenpa describes this text as a letter sent from his mind to itself, and, as befits such a personal message, it is heartfelt and candid. The core of the message is simple enough: to leave behind the busyness of saṃsāra and set out instead for the peace and tranquility of the forest, where "meditation naturally grows" and "one can find the bliss of inner peace." Yet while Longchenpa makes this point uncompromisingly, his language, particularly in describing the kind of wild woodland sanctuary he recommends, is often beautifully evocative and poetic.
In this poem Nyala Pema Dündul praises the peace of isolated mountain hermitages and retreats, contrasting it not only with the hustle and bustle of towns and villages, but also with the everyday comings and goings of ordinary monasteries.
Written for his close disciple, Alak Dongak Gyatso (1824–1902), this text of Patrul Rinpoche offers advice on the purpose and significance of solitude. Brief as it is, the work is of interest not only for its comments on retreat, but also for the clues it holds about Alak Dongak's life, especially as no complete biography has yet come to light and his writings have not survived.