Retreating to the Mountains

snow on distant mountainI spent a week doing Tai Chi at the Rigdzin Ling retreat center of the Chagdud Gompa Tibetan Buddhist association in the Trinity Alps in Northern California. On the sunny days, when we did some of our practice outdoors, we could see this snow-covered mountain above the hills.

Due to morning chill and fog, and a couple of rainy days, much of our training was held in the retreat’s library:

libraryThe library was conveniently located right next door to Creek House, where we were staying:

Creek HouseNot only did we get to train five to six hours a day, which was both wonderful and exhausting, but we were fed fantastic meals at the main temple building. To get to each meal, we often walked along a forest trail that led past this shrine to Kuan Yin, the goddess of compassion.

Kuan YinWe all seemed to find this shrine compelling, because we often stopped for a minute or so even when we were hurrying to dinner.

We skipped training one afternoon to take a whitewater rafting trip down the Trinity River. We wore wetsuits, but it was still rather cold. I suspect whitewater rafting along this particular river is a better activity for summer than fall, though recent rains had raised the water level quite a lot.

I don’t have pictures of the rafting because I was smart enough to leave my phone back at the retreat center so that I didn’t get it wet. It was about the only thing that didn’t get wet.

One evening we watched a flock of geese fly over the center’s pond, circle around it for it a bit while honking to each other, and then land on the water.

geeseThey were apparently on their way south, because they were gone the next day.

The center has a installation of fourteen very large prayer wheels that run constantly, driven by motors. I’ve forgotten how many millions of prayers they include, but it was a large number.

prayer wheelsI’m not a Buddhist, but I walked around this installation and spun each of the 108 smaller wheels that run along the outside wall. I figure that just as I can always use more Tai Chi practice, the world can always use more prayer.

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