My Highlights from Sudhana Retreat, 2023
- Why I went – I was told that the Sudhana retreat is going to be Intense (in the best way possible). But I didn’t know exactly what to expect. After I graduated from DRBU, I had this quote from Professor Martin Verhoeven stuck in my head, it was something like – “After you read 1,000 pages, walk 10,000 miles.” Personally, I felt the amount of things I read in the last two years was inversely proportional to the amount of my practice. This was my incentive behind joining the Sudhana retreat.
- Beginning the retreat – We all arrived at the Sudhana center on June 3rd – a beautiful summer afternoon in Ukiah. I remember sitting with friends from DRBU and talking about our anticipations and past experiences with the retreats. Everyone seemed relaxed, and it felt like a safe space where I could be vulnerable enough to a little dive deeper. The retreat started with a morning ceremony, which was a new experience for me. By and by, I found myself really loving the chants and slowly connecting with the spirit behind them.
- Dreams – In my dreams while at Sudhana retreat, I saw one of the teachers give incessant Dharma Talks, telling me things that I needed to hear. After dreaming the same dreams three nights in a row, I was concerned and I asked for some help. Someone told me that I should recite the Shurangama Mantra. I had heard stories of people who benefitted from reciting the mantra, and I personally hadn’t felt the same connection. Since my dreams were getting out of hand, I did the recitation before bed and that night, I don’t remember seeing any dreams. Somehow it worked!
- Dharma talks – There were many insights from dharma talks which I cannot go into in detail in this article. But there’s one that I can touch on. In one of the Dharma talks, Professor Doug Powers mentioned “Theravada as the heart of Mahayana”, which is that without Theravada illumination, you cannot enter Mahayana. It is again the theme of grounding, centering, and expanding. It made me realize that Theravada and Mahayana are not really two schools, but two orientations to the same path. For me personally, they complement each other perfectly. I found myself embracing and feeling more comfortable with different flavors of the Buddha’s teachings and practices.
- Sharing is caring – one aspect of Sudhana retreat was working together in the spirit of service. I was working together with some of my professors from DRBU. They would so kindly put aside the garb of professorial identity and chop vegetables and wash dishes together with you. In the sharing session at the end of the retreat, we all shared our experiences from the very human level rather than from a place of some identity.
Find out more about Sudhana Retreat here.