The Holy Isle retreat, June 2013

[wpcol_1third id=”” class=”” style=””]The Holy Isle retreat was more than a month ago and has been somewhat superseded in my memory by the more recent and equally glorious summercamp, but nevertheless it remains in my mind as a very special event. Rinpoche taught on Karma Chakme’s “Life-Blood” Teaching: A Quintessential Practice Unifying Mahamudra and Mahasandhi (Dzogchen). [/wpcol_1third]

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He began this teaching some years ago when he visited London (2010 I think) and was responding to requests to continue. The text is a pith instruction, very succinct, and it fitted neatly into the one week retreat with two teaching sessions per day. It is a very profound teaching and I am not going to attempt to summarize it due to my very limited understanding. However the experience of receiving these teachings from Rinpoche was like being offered generously everything you need to know to attain full realization on a plate, but of course each of us can only take in as much as we are able according to our individual capabilities.

Holy Isle itself is very beautiful, a small island owned by Rokpa Trust, off the coast of the Isle of Arran. The journey from London was quite an adventure; leaving home 4.45am, taking a train from Euston to Glasgow Central then another train to Ardrossan Harbour. From there, a ferry to Arran, a bus across Arran, and finally a small motor-boat to Holy Isle subject to tides and weather conditions. The retreat took place in the World Peace Centre, a special project of Lama Yeshe, a highly conducive setting with comfortable accommodation, delicious vegetarian food (much of it organic and home-grown) and delightful surrounding gardens. The far side of the island is a nature reserve and inaccessible, but we saw wild sheep, goats and ponies, none of whom seemed to be nervous of us. It was possible to take a peaceful walk beside the sea, or for the more adventurous, a climb over the mountainous interior terrain. The latter was a longer walk which involved missing a meal in order to have time to be back for the teachings. I have to say that the food was so good and I am not great on stoicism, so I didnt manage this.

Mary and a small team including Rinchen organized the retreat in an unobtrusive but containing manner, and Kum Nye and Qi Gong provided a good balance between sitting and moving meditation. It was all truly delightful and I hope very much Rinpoche will offer another retreat on Holy Isle in the not-too-distant future.

Lynda Miller
n.b. the text we studied can be ordered from Samye Ling

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