Solo Tantric Retreat Day 1. It all started with a dream. Well, actually it started when my Zen and Shamatha teacher told me I should go seek a new teacher, one in the Tantric / Vajryana tradition. Back in June I was at a Zen retreat with her, and we had discussed me branching out into the Vajryana. Near the end of the retreat, I had some very vivid, profound dreams that indicated the path I should take.
In the last dream, I saw myself go to BC to meet this teacher. He was balding, had glasses, and a grey beard. We ended up in a carriage of sorts, and were watching all sorts of beautiful Tibetan displays of artful dance and movement. As the carriage proceeded, in front of us were these scary-looking beings that kind of looked like demons, they were human, but their skin wrapped around their ribcage. They seemed to be blocking us, or protecting something from us entering. I’ve since then realized that these signified the Dharmapalas, or protectors of reality and the Dharma and it’s holders.
In this dream, I was pushing back against the requirement to do the preparatory practices for Vajryana called “The Generation Stage” which often involves 100,000 prostrations, and possibly more. I indicated that I was already doing many of the completion stage practices successfully, and didn’t see what the generation stage could do for me. He said something to the effect of “the generation stage operates on more levels than just preparing you for the practices of completion stage; they also generate in you the capacity to more easily do completion, as well as to protect you in the in-between.”
I saw the wisdom in these words, and accepted the generation stage practices he gave me.
Waking up from the Dream
When I woke up, I was determined to find this teacher. In early August I told my Zen teacher about the dream, and she gave me a list of Tantric teachers in BC. I randomly went through the list reading about who they were, until…I SAW HIM. Lama Mark Webber, was right there, the guy from my dream, staring me in the face from his website.
I immediately wrote him an email (he made it VERY difficult to find), and explained what had happened, asking him to be my teacher. In two days he responded, and accepted me. I flew down in October for 10 days, and received Tantric initiations, and the generation stage practices to start the purification process of my body and mind stream. Since he was going to be very busy for the next few months with a 4 month retreat that had 30 participants in it, I suggested that maybe I could do a self-guided solo retreat, under his watch. He agreed, and we set the dates for Jan 4 – 14, 2020.
A perfect start to the new year
A solo Tantric retreat is one where you basically are on your own for 10 days, or perhaps more. For me, I visited the teacher on day 3, and day 8. The first meeting was to review my generation stage practices, and give some guidance on those. He also gave me some more practices to use during the retreat. After that, though, I’m on my own other than them delivering groceries twice a week.
On Day 8, we reviewed my retreat progress, and any questions I had that came up.
This post, and the next few, will walk you through this retreat with a series of videos where I talk about what’s coming up for me as I get deeper down the rabbit hole. Keep an eye out for Day 2 – 10!