The Four Noble Truths are:
1) suffering, or dissatisfaction;
2) the causes of suffering;
3) the cessation of suffering; and
4) the path leading to that cessation.
When the leaves are changing colour, mid-autumn has already passed. I came out from the plane and felt I was standing on top of the world. The tiny airport was surrounded by peaks dotted with trees in red and yellow, the beginning of this ten-day retreat sounded very promising.
The retreat house was located atop the hill. At one o’clock sharp, the manager arrived for a briefing. The check-in happened in an efficient way, we handed in our registration form, chose our room, picked up keys and blanket, received our karma yoga job and deposited our valuables including all electronic and communication devices in a small bag. All these took place in a quiet manner within a few minutes per person.
The main theme of this retreat was Introduction to Buddhism – The Four Noble Truths. Every day of the retreat started with a forty-five minutes mindulness meditation followed by a hot breakfast with porridge and hot bread. There are two teaching sessions in the morning in which Glen, the lead teacher, explained the foundations of Buddhism. During the retreat Glen has covered topics like the Four Noble Truths, renunciation, bodhicitta, emptiness, the Six Perfections, the Five Paths, samsara and samatha. Lunch, group discussion and tea break filled most of the afternoon, though we had plenty of time to sit on the terrace or on the steps of the lecture hall to contemplate, meditate, relax or simply enjoy the purest air that this planet could offer.
The day after the tea break became more practical. There was one teaching session and two guided meditation sessions. Maya took over the practical sessions and we practised analytical and stabilizing meditation techniques. Silence, concentration, single-pointedness, forgiveness and emptiness were some of the key words.