Thursday, March 20, 2014

Forty Days of Lent: Day Sixteen

It looks like I won't be going on retreat to the Buddhist monastery as I had hoped.  There's an intensive week-long retreat beginning this Sunday.  Traditionally they ask that those who have not attended retreats at their monastery before come for a weekend session; I was hoping to perhaps bypass that requirement.  This morning I had a phone interview with someone who works at the monastery and discovered that, not only do they recommend first timers not try to attend the entire week long session, but the retreat is fully booked.  There's a waiting list.

The woman I spoke with on the phone was very nice.  She tried to explain that sometimes people come to the retreats with very high expectations, only to find themselves frustrated by the actual experience. Her example: "Let's say you come to the retreat and in the room, where you are staying, the dorm room, there is a snorer.  He snores the entire night and you don't get much rest.  You have the morning session, but your tired.  Then after breakfast is the work session, but you're not fully rested and the work is difficult.  Then another meditation session and let's say the person next to you is a very loud breather.  How would deal with that set of circumstances?"

It's not exactly a trick question.  I certainly knew not to respond with "I would insist the snorer and loud breather be moved somewhere else or I would demand my money back immediately."  I explained as best I could that I understand the experience would not be exactly what I was expecting but that I felt confident I could still practice despite any distractions.  We talked for a bit and then, as if in an unconscious display of this principle, she began coughing.  She apologized, said she was just getting over a cold, but if made the conversation a little more difficult, in that it took her twice as long to say something and I had to repeat myself several times.  I suspect between her and the theoretical snorers and loud breathers, it's probably one of the loudest Buddhist monasteries in the New York region.  

My plans were on hold until this call.  I didn't want to be making any travel arrangements in case I was going on retreat.  There's another monastery that has retreats that begin each Friday.  Perhaps I'll see if they have any space available the week after next.  Even though the call was finished by 10:00am, I went back to bed.    

No comments: