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we stand in the passage of fires

Endearing words received from our friend Alex from Holand who has no presence on social media. Alex joined us last July at Karuna Center, Monchique, Portugal, for our week-long silent meditation retreat. The center was to be devastated by wildfires less than a week after we had finished our retreat and had left. Karuna Center has risen from its ashes now and we are hosting silent retreats there again this year in July and October. The words Alex had received upon his arrival were a reminder of annica, impermanence. They rang true to him, they ring true to each of us as this is the reality of our existence, we do not know what tomorrow will bring.

We cannot stop the course of impermanence but we can learn to harmonize with it, rather than resist and try to obstruct it in manners subtle and gross and that in a way is what meditation practice is about: learning how to flow with the watercourse way. The watercourse is how the ancient Chinese used to call the Tao, Way. That flowing won't save you from the successively changing scenery of the current, at times moving smoothly, at times carrying you in the turbulence of its rapids, not to mention the occasional stones you bump into. But with time you can appreciate the watercourse of life for what it is: vivid movement that is ultimately ungraspable.

Although the only time we spent together with Alex was during the week of silence it is a remarkable thing to observe how silence and stillness can create deep and lasting bonding between people. We would think that is impossible without words. But this is the essence of Zen practice, it is unmediated and direct: i shin den shin / from my heart to your heart.

Words are like raindrops falling on the surface of the water while the heart is the deep ocean of listening in silence.

Alex: " I remember I got a card when I arrived with this text on it “what time has brought about time will take away, you can do nothing about it." When I arrived this is what I recognized in my personal life well and after of course, sadly with Karuna retreat center.

The dates I will put in my agenda I might open something new so I have no clue if and when we will meet again but we will, Hamid. I truly mean it when people ask me and I tell them that the silence retreat was the most beautiful (by far) experience I had in my life."

Alex pondering impermanence

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