Dzogchen Center Retreats: Wisdom, Compassion, Peace & Laughter
Since the first Dzogchen Center retreat with Lama Surya Das in 1993, we have evolved a rhythm that creates an experience that is relaxed but focused, quiet but joyful, intense but expansive.
When you look at the daily schedule posted on the bulletin board each morning you will see the day broken up into sessions with these labels: Group Practice, Individual Practice, Teachings, Yoga, and Meals.
One important point that a newcomer to our retreats needs to know is that nothing is compulsory. Our practice is to “awaken the Buddha within”, and it is implicit that our retreatants are mature individuals who know how to use their time most productively. For some, coming to retreat is a precious opportunity to sit in silent meditation for many hours a day. For others, it is important to get outside, walk the trails around the retreat center and open up to the natural world. For most, it is the combination of these elements that make Dzogchen Center retreats so powerful.
Teachings: There are two or three teaching sessions each day: mid-morning, afternoon, and evening. Lama Surya Das will teach most of those sessions; about a third of the teachings will be from specially invited guest teachers and his senior students.
The rhythm of one of Lama Surya’s sessions generally involves chanting, silent meditation, his teaching, and an extended question and answer session. Lama Surya’s teaching methods are designed to transmit the essential insights of the Great Perfection tradition in a direct and accessible manner. He uses the question and answer sessions to tailor the discussion to the particular needs of the students in the room, and he encourages everyone to bring their questions so that others can share in the benefit of the dialogue.
Group Practice: These are meditation sessions, about 45 minutes each. A practice leader will open the session with a short dedication prayer or some chanting; then silent meditation, practicing the methods that Lama Surya has taught. While most people sit on cushions on the floor, comfortable chairs are also available.
Individual Practice: At summer camp this would be called free time. But here we are on retreat, with a precious opportunity away from the distractions of our worldly lives. We don’t want to waste time. We do whatever we need to do during this time — take a walk in the woods, exercise, lie down and rest, sew on a button — but we do it with the clarity of present awareness.
Yoga: Every Dzogchen Center retreat offers methods of cultivating the mind through physical practices. These simple and relaxing postures are led by senior students of Lama Surya who have developed personalized methods of integrating these ancient Indian exercises with present awareness.
Meals: At our retreats the food is very good. It is vegetarian. Since we eat in noble silence, you can really taste it, and enjoy it.