T innocently asked me at breakfast when I was getting ready to go to Headlands for two weeks, “Are you going on retreat?” I have a real problem with that word, I told her, how it suggests someone backing away from something pernicious, onerous, oppressive. Some problematic terms: “the world,” retreat, Dogen’s backwards step, revise. How they all involve retraction in some way. Instead of retreat, how about rest? [rester “to stay”]
As in, sometimes one engages in one kind of activity and then another kind of activity at another time. Retreat implies that one is drawing back. There is something to draw back from. Some feature of one’s primary state is intrinsically problematic and requires withdrawal. If that’s the case, how can you really rest when you’re “on retreat” And then once you’re on “retreat,” what capacities are still available to you? What tools or encumbrances did you leave behind? Have you left provisions at the edge of the forest so you can find your way “back” Still there is something of use in this concept, the notion of a haven, a refuge, of rest. Rest can sometimes imply something has gone very very wrong:She needs some rest. She just needs some rest. Yes she does.
I noticed in a state of chronic tiredness that I had come to think this overextended person was “myself.” And I developed strategies of cheer that were drawing on very little energy, high frequency helloes that mimicked a rested state, a state ready to spring into action but really it was saying, oh no not one more thing.!!! Thanks! Translation: “I’m exhausted!!!” But come in anyway and I will do my best to cheer us all up !!! xxxooo
The oh no not one more thing I mistook to be my native response when in fact I was simply tired. I simply needed some rest.
Pelvic rest: what my mother was on after having what always seemed to me to be nothing, a resting space, removed. Something could be removed from it, me, for example, but what happened when it was removed? What then in its place? Robert Thurman’s definition of sunyata: womb of emptiness. The world includes rest. it’s not an exceptional state. So there is no going in and out of it. Coming in and out of consciousness. she’s in and out. “I’m going out into the world now”
This place, this retreat is in some pocket of not of this world. When one is going to work you go in and start working then you leave. When does the retreat start? When does it end? Where is the line? How to avoid the bends as you ascend the water columnshe is not “of this world” be in the world but not “of” it this world, that world I just came in from the other world. (B after seeing L)
Olga spoke of feeling jet lag after being with the dying.
Retreat seems steeped in post-industrial mind that posits another world as golden, a vacation world. A la Sir Philip Sidney: The Golden World, i.e. the world without death. Jason’s friend’s Rabbinic studies on purity: Purity isn’t about removing sex. It’s about removing death. Break the bedpost of the bed where the person died. So the bed can be restored to its predeath state. Break it to restore it. Break it to interrupt death. Break it so death will forget where it left off. Break it to burn from the sheets the tinge of death. Ants who carry ants to the graveyard have the smell of the grave on them. Then they get hauled off to the cemetery themselves, still alive. But the “pure” state includes death. It cancels itself out.
Someone in class, in a brown robe asked: but if it’s on both sides what’s the point? And why does this kind of question, how it misses the point, always make me furious? Because it plucks me out of the world and it steals the world from me, steals me from the world. Steal away. I become stolen. I have been robbed. Kurosawa’s Burglar’s entrance: when nothing can be stolen from you.
Rest looks like nothing is happening so it looks like you can just take it out. Stitch together the place where it was so where it was meets where it now isn’t. Pass your needle back through nothing into something through nothing again. hysteros. restectomy. Since nothing is happening when you’re resting why not skip it? Doing nothing is not passive. It took skill and attention not to go to the lecture last night. To actually be on vacation. Doing nothing does (doing nothing). Zazen sits zazen.
My sheets are white and they do something
When I travel I like to make good time so I detest pausing at Rest Stops though I like that they are named after poets particularly after male poets with women’s names. A poem can be a rest stop and then you start up again. But where have you been? On retreat?
Sleeping into the exhaustion. Sleep the exhaustion into an ordinary tiredness. Sleep until you open your eyes
Hi! Where have you been? Just resting.
The body is no place for the faint of heart. The body needs rest. But not retreat.