The Benefits of Holidays wear off. The Benefits of Holydays on Retreat can last a lifetime.
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Consumer culture invented international holidays for the masses in the last 50 years.
For centuries, the rich always enjoyed holidays, such as spending time in one of their country mansions, boats or travels to exotic places. They were able to enjoy such a lifestyle through their inheritance or/and accumulating for themselves and their families immense wealth through excess charges for goods they produced and low payment for workers.
They pocketed the money for themselves and their family at the expense of the workers and their families. This is a worldwide common story. Few countries escape the blight of greed and endless pursuance of personal wealth regardless of the impact on others.
There are alternatives to sun, sea and sand. With global warming and increasing flooding, the days of beachside holidays may be numbered.
Phot taken during a retreats in the Thai Monastery, Sarnath, India, where the Buddha offered his first teachings.
For centuries, the poor and middle income citizens often went on pilgrimage, a loving community on the move to a shrine, place of worship, holy city, sacred mountain or river. People went on retreat staying in monasteries, convents, ashrams, engaged in voluntary work for noble causes and spent time in sacred places for meditation, prayer, reflection and community.
Such spiritual experiences and sharing with a community of the likeminded matter far more than the superficialities of the pursuit of pleasurable sensations through the five senses.
Today, the vast majority take holidays and a tiny percentage prefer holydays. Most holiday makers cannot imagine going on a retreat. The thought has never even arose. “They want to pump their religion into you” would be a typical response.
Thoughtful religious people have no interest to convert people to their religion. I would suggest to readers you keep a distance from any missionary/empire building faith trying to persuade you to follow the dictates of their faith.
A few years ago, a television crew made a short film on weekend retreats. The crew arrived at a Buddhist centre to speak to retreatants as they arrived in their car. Plenty of retreatants had years of experience in Buddhist retreats but very few called themselves Buddhists. Identification with labels were not a priority for many meditators. People appreciate the lack of interest in conversation found in the best of the Buddhist tradition.
I love the Buddha and the Buddhist tradition. I am called a Buddhist teacher, Buddha wallah and Buddhist psychologist. I am comfortable with this, even though I do not identify myself as a Buddhist, including my six years as a Buddhist monk in Thailand and India. Absence of the Buddhist label reveals an extra space within. Lots of friends experience happiness in being a Buddhist. The concept works well for them. I appreciate this.
Take a Step
Try a one-day non-residential retreat. Go a step further and join a residential retreat weekend. Go a bigger step further and attend a five day meditation retreat from 6 am to 9.30 pm with teachings, guided meditations, 1-1s with the teacher, Q and A. See flyer below. You will be in the company of complete beginners and deeply experience meditators, dedicated Buddhists and dedicated non-Buddhists.
Explore other religious/spiritual traditions. Be bold. Don’t imagine meditation is bliss, bliss, bliss. You are making a pilgrimage into the your inner life finding out beautiful things about yourself and touching dark corners. You will get glimmers or much more of the kind of person you want to be and leave a retreat with tools to apply your vision.
Remember others will benefit from your peace of mind, love and wisdom. You do not attend a retreat or go on a pilgrimage just for your personal benefit.
The language of spirituality, God, mysticism, deep meditation, realisations, born again, a new life, awakening, liberation and truth may start to have a genuine relevance for you.
You might come to view your days on a retreat as your holydays.
Here is a Flyer on an Upcoming Retreat with the Buddha Wallah.
Be bold. Check out your experience on a retreat At the very least, it will make for an interesting conversation with your friends in the coffee shop. A holyday offers a major difference from lying on the beach in the heat or seeking shade from it.
Christopher Titmuss - The Buddha Wallah is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.