This retreat is offered as an opportunity for very experienced students to develop their capacity for self-retreat in order to develop autonomy, maturity, depth, flexibility and creativity in engaging their personal practice. It is suitable for those who are experienced in conducting personal retreat and also for those with much group retreat experience but little solitary retreat experience.
There will be a loose schedule within which each participant will be able to independently structure their retreat time. Mealtimes and work periods will take place at fixed times, but most other activities will be self-guided by each individual. Amma Thanasanti, a former monastic of many years, will be available to offer guidance as needed, including offering periodic check-ins and Dharma talks geared to support each participant.
In order to allow for some integration of aspects not normally incorporated into formal retreats, Amma will offer some periods of inquiry to assist in the practice of Right Speech. There will also be optional work periods in addition to regular daily yogi jobs to allow people to expand their field of practice.
Attendance will be capped at 27 participants to allow each participant to have a single room.
EXPERIENCED STUDENT CRITERIA:
We are setting a high bar for retreats for advanced students. In the past, the definition of an experienced or advanced student has generally been characterized by the amount of formal retreat time in which one has engaged. While time logged on the cushion can be an important aspect of experience, we do not find this measure alone to be a meaningful gauge of the quality of a student’s practice.
We see an advanced student as someone who has developed a balanced practice, with sincere and diligent attention to practicing sila (ethical/moral conduct) and dana (generosity), in addition to bhavana (cultivation of mind). Sometimes yogis engage in unwholesome behaviors indicative of a need for additional development.
Some of these behaviors include
• Arriving late or leaving a retreat early without prior permission (except in the case of an emergency).
• Lying or manipulating to secure a single room or other personal preferences.
• Not fulfilling yogi job commitments.
• Not having offered dana to the teacher or staff (of money, volunteer energy, or another expression of generosity/gratitude)
• Making demands and expressions of entitlement
All of these behaviors create hardship and have a corrosive effect on our collective ability to keep the Dhamma alive, available and accessible.
It is our belief as a Dhamma organization that those who aspire to take their wisdom practice to deeper levels should not neglect the vital foundational practices of dana and sila. All practitioners are welcome on any of our open retreats. However, in order to be considered a suitable candidate for an experienced/ advanced student retreat, these new criteria are in place to create the most fertile field of practice for all who attend and to provide adequate support for the teachers and retreat center who are gifting these practice opportunities to the world.
This retreat is intended for experienced students.
We will ask each participant who applies to attend this retreat to meet the following requirements:
Formal retreat experience: each participant has to have attended at least 7 silent Buddhist retreats (in any tradition) for a total of at least 35 days of retreat time, with at least 20 days completed at Cloud Mountain.
Each participant must provide us with a written recommendation from their primary teacher endorsing the appropriateness of solitary retreat. Each participant must also commit to engaging in regular check-ins with either their own teacher (by phone or Skype) or with Amma Thanasanti.
Additionally, each applicant must exhibit behaviors supportive of sustaining a strong spiritual community. Specifically, each applicant must have a strong, demonstrated practice of sila (ethical and moral behavior), of dana (generosity) and a demonstrated ability to comport oneself during retreat with maturity and integrity. For more details about these requirements, please see the expanded explanation following the retreat description.
Subsidized fee : $950 plus dana offerings to teacher(s) and staff
Sustaining fee : $1050 plus dana offerings to teacher(s) and staff
Supporting fee : $1150 plus dana offerings to teacher(s) and staff