Personal Retreat 2016 - Base Camp
Imagine i'm climbing a mountain - to enlightenement.

I'm still just trying to establish base camp, finding sponsors, little things i need to make it work cost effectively like a hammock tent set up (to sleep out in the wild). base camp would be where i am now arriving and reviewing plans. Retreat has begun and basecamp is part of retreat - a first phase where the unelaborate, undecided has to become slightly more manifest - but just enough to make the next step.

In geographical terms i've left Lerab Ling and arrived in Berlin where i am joining daily practices with the Dharmamati community, meditating in my room and sleeping more than usual because i'm recovering from the previous teaching seasons busy daily schedules. In my mind, i'm at base camp, for my first serious assault on Mt Shamatha.

You know Mt Shamatha, that famous mountain where the wise ones sit up top and spiritual seekers come. There they seem content to look out over the world and ponder deeper questions like - what am I going to eat tonight after a heavy session of meditation? This assumes that on Mt Shamatha meditation is a product of a very conducive environment, where one has travelled for half a lifetime to arrive there. One has purified karma, the insects and vermin are now one's friends and perception doesn't turn a cozy mountain spot into a windswept hellish place of torment but rather an inspiring and brisk respite from the hot jungles of samsara below. Here samsara is present more as a thin veil of attachments one simply looks at and awaits their dissolution into acquiescence. We all have to dream, and sometimes we visualize - we need to have some goal to point our compass at.

So my base camp is where i can make arrangements to climb this figurative Mt Shamatha - even if this is actually on flat land, a jungle, beach, city ... its really where-ever i lay my hat. Just leaving home is to disconnect from a numerous skein of attachments and gravitations towards household or workplace lifestyle we have nested in. We leave the nest armed with instructions, aspirations and visions of how far down the road we might get.