I was inspired to do a quick trip to upstate NY this fall to attend Nyungne retreat at the Padmasambhava Center. The center is one of the few in the Dudjom Tersar lineage and I was hoping to received teachings from the center's founders but alas, it was mostly a practice based retreat. Definitely one of the more physically challenging retreats due to the fasting aspects and I am glad to be in a formal retreat after so many years of not doing any retreats.
Without a doubt, this trip was motivated by my desire to leave the grey winters of Michigan. I hadn't done a winter migration before so I wasn't sure that the end of january was quite the best time given that I would be sleeping in my van for most of the trip. For the most part, it work out fine as the only snow storm was on my way into Great Smokey National Park and my time there was very brief.
I continue to be grateful for the time I've had in the 2021 to focus on this project and my personal practice. Despite have very little professional work, I was able to get by financially and continue refining this project have more clarity. I was made my goal of being about to interview 12-15 people per year and visit a few new cities that I hadn't been to before. In particular, I go the chance to make my way to Crestone, a epicenter of Buddhist retreat centers of a town of 500 residents. Although I only spent a few days there, I positive I will be back for one of Tysokyi Rinpoche's week long teachings.
I heard from various sources that Crestone CO was the seat of many buddhist retreat centers for a very small town and I had thought it was because of some government policy that encourage this type of concentration. As it turns out, there was a land grant by one of the 16th Karmapa's student that promoted the development all these centers. Since I spent most of the time interviewing people of the project, I didn't get to check out the town as much but in general, it's fairly undeveloped as a town so I am not quite so sure that I would want to move there anytime soon! I found this write up from a travel writer about Crestone that gives more history about the town.
So my first anniversary of ngondro practice is coming up in a few days and I've been thinking about the significance of the practice in my life. I can't quite say it has been so transformative that I quit my life in suburbia and went off on some pilgrimage to find my 'spiritual' home of sorts. Alas, I have certainly thought about making such a drastic change and asking my teachers if I should do such a thing but I feel like I already know the answer. Which is to say, I know enough that just changing the outer circumstances doesn't change the obscurations of my mind and habit. Fundamentally, I have the time/resources to fully practice where I am at even though I don't 'like' it here. Which is to say, I need to focus on the present state of auspicious conditions that has allow a fairly consistent practice in the last year and get over the ego's likes/dislikes/perceptions.