If you get the chance or make the time to retreat, you are extremely fortunate. Few things are as beneficial. Retreat is the only way to really transform your mind, since in retreat you are putting the teachings into action, not merely collecting more information.
– Lama Yeshe
Retreat gives us more hope, strength and encouragement for this life. In conclusion, retreat is important because it involves retreating from ignorance, from the dissatisfied mind of attachment and from the self-cherishing thought. These are the fundamental forces from which one must retreat. Transforming the mind into virtue, freeing oneself from suffering and its causes: these are essential meanings of Dharma practice. Only when you do retreat do you see your mind, see yourself.
– Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Lama Zopa Rinpoche and many other great Buddhist teachers show us by example how our activities of working for others and Dharma study may benefit from undertaking retreat. This is one of the ways in which we can maximise the opportunity afforded by our precious human rebirth to be of service to others. Their example shows us that we need to take our Dharma studies to heart, not just understand them superficially.
At the heart of Land of Joy project the fulfilment of the lamas’ wishes to enable their students to reach deeper experiences of the teachings, for which retreat is essential. Providing facilities for retreat will therefore enable us to fulfil their wishes.
Buddhist retreat is not like a holiday; it is hard work. However, it renews the person in ways that an ordinary holiday does not and also enables progress in a spiritual journey that goes beyond this life. In retreat, a conscious withdrawal from the preoccupations of normal life enable one to access deeper levels of the mind, and so bring about inner transformation.
By catering for both group and individual retreats of short, medium and long duration, Land of Joy will support the process of Buddhist retreat. Although the spiritual framework of the centre will be that of the FPMT tradition, practitioners and seekers from all spiritual traditions, and none, will be able to benefit from the opportunity to undertake retreats there.
The group retreat programme will be varied to enable different types and levels of practitioner to benefit. Hire-out to compatible organisations will enable groups from other traditions to benefit from the centre.
Solitary retreat of any duration, from one day to the whole of the rest of one’s life, will be possible. In general, acceptance to undertake solitary retreat will be subject to appropriate experience and a letter of support from one’s spiritual teacher.