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Rejoicing in the Tara retreat

Rejoicing in the Tara retreat

Part of a series of Bodhisattva’s Breakfast Corner talks given during the Green Tara Winter Retreat from December 2009 to March 2010.

  • Rejoicing at the merit created in doing retreat
  • Continue to make the retreat part of daily life

Green Tara Retreat 067: Rejoicing in the Tara retreat (download)

This will be our closing talk for the Green Tara retreat. I just want to congratulate everybody for completing the retreat and doing very well. You should really take the opportunity to rejoice at the merit you created and the merit everybody in the whole extended community created—not only the other people doing the full retreat here at the Abbey, but all the 260-something, at least 260 people who are doing the retreat from afar. This is the most we’ve ever had doing retreat from afar. It was so encouraging for us to hear that many people really wanting to practice and do the retreat with us. So we thank all of you for doing it, and please continue to do the Tara practice afterwards, unless you have another regular practice that you do.

But it’s very good to do the Tara practice and include the lamrim meditation, the meditation on the stages of the path to enlightenment. With the Tara practice you accumulate merit and purify. You also get the mind quiet by doing the visualization and the mantra. And then, doing the analytic meditation, where you’re actively reflecting on a theme from one of the Buddha’s teachings, is very effective. Or if you prefer to do it the opposite way, and do the reflection on the Buddha’s teachings at the beginning of your session to help you set your motivation, that’s also very effective and then doing the Tara practice. So either way is fine but it’s good to combine the two.

So really continue on with the practice if it’s working for you; there’s no reason to stop. I say this because there are some people who write and say, “Oh, the retreat’s over, what do I do now?” kind of like they can’t do the Tara practice and lamrim meditation because March whatever has already come. No, you just keep going. If it works for you, keep doing it. This is a very precious practice and you see the change in yourself, and you see the change in your friends who do the practice. So continue doing it.

Really take time today to rejoice at your own and others’ merit. Then also do a long dedication like we do in Pearl of Wisdom: Book I, the blue prayer book. There’s a lamrim dedication and there are many pages with dedication prayers. It’s very good to do this as a culmination to the whole retreat.

Look forward to taking what you’ve gained in your retreat out into the next activities that you’re engaging in. Don’t see the retreat as so much an ending of something, as much as a beginning of really bringing your practice, and the compassion, and the antidotes that you’ve cultivated, and the good heart, and all these things—bringing those with you into where you go from here and everything you’re doing now.

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.