.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

The Diamond Mountain Blog

This is an unofficial blog of news and info from Diamond Mountain University and Retreat Center which was founded by Geshe Michael Roach and Lama Christie McNally in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of the Dalai Lamas.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Near Christmas

More and more I have little to say about the care taking experience out here at DMU. It's not that there is nothing to talk about. It is that what there is to say sounds too much like gossip. Even if one didn't have vows steering one away from gossip and therefore it's harmful effects, it wouldn't be cool. There will always be interpersonal drama large and small in any small group of people you throw together in the middle of the desert. But talking about it in this format is, I think, no good. Also, for this particular experiment that is the Great Retreat, it is important to keep the mental image of the thing pure. Why? Because maybe prayers and meditations from people outside the retreat actually reach those inside the retreat. If so, it's best if the prayers are pure and not cluttered with gossip issues that may or may not be true. Having a pure mind helps the care takers in particular. In the first three year retreat our teachers did it was reported that sometimes the food that the care takers made for them was not edible. The care takers confirmed that on those occasions they had been arguing in the kitchen while they prepared the meal. While we don't make meals for the retreatants, usually, we handle all their food in package form. I do not want to see the day that half of the groceries we send to someone come back with a note that says something like "All this food tastes like it has gone bad for some reason" and we can trace it to a care taker brawl before delivery.
I am a strong believer in the idea that at some point on a person's spiritual path they must die to themselves in some way. Some ignorant way that the seeker thinks of themselves must go away in order for a new person to emerge. Which is why a long solo retreat is so valuable. If there is no one around to reinforce the old way you think about yourself, then you have a better chance of planting really strong mental seeds to see a new you in the future. I can therefore see the merit in forgetting about the retreatants for the middle part of their three years, to quiet the mental inquiry we are sending to them. Keep the money coming, however. Humor, that was humor and also true.
Christmas is near. In honor of Jesus, go occupy some public place and talk about things that the establishment doesn't want to hear. Make sure that the government doesn't like it and the police don't like it and accepted religious institutions don't particularly like it. It should even make you uncomfortable. Things like "Love your neighbor and love your enemy" and "You're going to reap what you sow." Then feel really grateful that you can do so while keeping love in your heart. That's the hard part. It's the love that makes all the difference.

Monday, December 05, 2011


We have had our first freezing temperatures this year at Diamond Mountain. I think that all the care takers who were around at the beginning of retreat (in other words, all of us still here) have been thinking back to the record breaking freeze we had back then. I think the retreatants will all be taking new measures to keep their lines from freezing. We insulated everything we could think of so we should be fine. A few of the cabins are heated with wood stoves so we have delivered a lot of firewood recently. Most cabins heat with propane. Several cabins were designed to catch and hold heat and I am curious how they preform in an "average" year out here.
By Spring I plan to be living somewhere other than here. As my time as a care taker winds up I see that this blog will be less about the people in retreat and more about the lives of the group of people caring for them. And then I think that there is less and less to say about them that doesn't sound like gossip. Even without vows against it, gossip is no good for anyone. It is so important for everyone to have a good feeling in their heart as they serve the retreat. Really, it is the same for every activity in our lives.
It has almost been a year that I have lived alone in my little house deep in the desert. Personally, I have gone through a lot of new emotional issues. As the year comes to a close I feel, to my own surprise, that I am on the other side of a couple of the more negative places that I was stuck in. I now am starting to think more of other people during my waking hours, which is still not very much. Reflecting, I think some of my anger was from parts of my ego that were no longer given the spot light. They were pissed off because they were dying. Labels I had consciously or unconsciously given myself were falling away in the unrelenting quiet of solitude. I think that if a person can really get into it, the study of ones own mind is the most beneficial and fascinating thing to do with ones life. Second only to spending your life in the service of others. And that, really, could look like any occupation. What matters is the motivation you have while you do it and the intensity with which you remember why you are doing it.