Every session of Buddhist meditation begins with “going for refuge.” In this brief practice, we spend a moment bringing our minds to those refuges that have the capacity to provide genuine freedom and happiness—the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. B. Alan Wallace, a former monk, translator for the Dalai Lama, prolific writer, and friend of KCC, takes this a step further. He encourages us to, “let our minds become Dharma.” These aspirations—turning our mind to refuge, letting it become dharma—are no easy tasks.
One of the most effective techniques to aid ourselves in these endeavors are retreats—one day, one week, one year, even three years or more. A retreat allows us to remove ourselves from the hustle and bustle of life, to find a space of quiet away from distraction. Retreats offer a time to receive intensive instruction about specific practices or an opportunity to meditate on them deeply. For thousands of years Buddhists have used retreat as a tool to deepen their practice. Venerable Kalu Rinpoche was a famous meditator, having spent half his life in retreat by the time he reached age forty. After leaving retreat, he spent his life teaching and encouraging others, founding centers around the world, including, in 1976, ours.
When completed, the facilities at SCOL will serve practitioners in retreats of all types:
When KCC made the decision to build Ser Chö Ösel Ling, we envisioned carving out a place for practitioners to do retreats of all lengths and help fold practice into their lives. It is our hope and wish that people will use it over and over again, for years and decades to come. Perhaps someone will one day spend twenty years there, like Kalu Rinpoche.