wizi wrote:I guess i am slightly nervous before this serving, as a couple of my friends are attending the retreat after hearing from me the benefits of insight meditation in our daily lives. It would have been easier if we all sat in the retreat as participants on 'noble silence', but now I am concerned that I may affect their meditation practice as they would most likely come to me with their emotional past or future ... I guess a good rapport with the assistant teacher would help me to get through such encounters, but I would like to learn more from Ben about always trying to maintain awareness of vedana (sensation) somewhere on the body.
It should be in the code of discipline for servers that you'll read before serving but if anyone comes to you and wishes to discuss the technique or emotional issues that are arising as a result of meditation, then you need to direct them to the assistant teacher. And if you have friends on the course who feel that because of their pre-existing relationship with you and because of your role as manager (or server) gives them permission to break noble silence, then you'll need to be diplomatic with them. By serving as a manager, your role is to attend to the physical requirements of students and any questions regarding experiences or regarding the meditation should be directed to the assistant teacher. By doing so you help to ensure that students are not confused by receiving two different messages.
As far as extending awareness to vedana (sensation) during any conversation with students, its no different to what you do in formal sittng meditation. the only difference is that while you are talking to a student, you are also aware of the changing characteristic of some sensation occuring on the body.
wizi wrote:I am slowly cultivating this awareness of sensations in my day-to-day living and interactions. Particularly, when I meet relatives or friends going through troubling times, I have an even more heightened awareness of the sensations coursing through my body and I am aware that my words often aim to reflect the dhamma's law of impermanence. That whatever state we are experiencing now, it's going to obey the law of impermanence.
wizi wrote:Sometimes, friends or relatives would ask? "Well, when will this end? When will I be free from it?"
How do you respond to that???
Remind your friends that everything is temporary. Beyond that, I would try and help them find a practical solution to their current difficulty (if possible).
In the environment of the retreat, I hope I could attain a breakthrough of being an amateur 'counsellor' so-to-speak...
Keep in mind that on retreat, serving as a manager, you are not working as a counsellor. As I said above, any questions regarding the meditation or experiences or emotions that arise as a result of the meditation should be referred to the assistant teacher. By doing so you will assist the student to have a beneficial retreat experience. Serving on a retreat, your volition should be one of selfless service, serving others without expectation of anything in return. Serving on a retreat you get the opportunity to develop your paramitas. Serving on a retreat is actually quite demanding and at times hard work and can be as challenging as sitting on a ten-day course.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725Compassionate Hands Foundation
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