Retreat notes, VI (One infinite territory)

//Retreat notes, VI (One infinite territory)

Retreat notes, VI (One infinite territory)

Rain has been coming down all day, off and on, laced with a chilling edge. Late afternoon, and it’s hard to imagine that it’s warm and sunny somewhere, or snow-bound, or deep, dark night. Of course it is, however, and of course I can’t « know » it unless I’m there. What does it mean to be « there, » though?

If nothing else this week, perhaps we’ve all experienced at one moment or another the letting go of « our » « personal » territory. It could be our « internal » territory, what we identify as our self, what we want to feel or not feel, think or not think, be or not be. It could be our « external » territory, too, what we identify as our place and the place of the other(s). The question is what we include and exclude, what we define as The Territory.
Who is doing what, where and when?
By throwing into question old ideas about where the retreat is taking place and what constitutes a « retreat » or « practice, » the territory’s horizons grow wider. Here we each are, simply in the middle of wide-open space, one infinite territory.

We had a « final » heart-of-life sit here this morning, followed by a « circle of words from the heart. » Then everyone went off again into « their » lives.
What will the coming days bring us? Everything!
And yet I know I’ll forget sometimes to notice it. Which doesn’t mean the richness and fullness of life are not there.
Thank you, everyone, for coming along with me on this journey into the heart of our lives.

By | 2017-04-04T06:58:18+01:00 février 19th, 2011|La pratique Zen|15 Comments

About the Author:

Enseignante Zen et poète, Sensei Amy “Tu es cela” Hollowell est née et a grandi à Minneapolis, aux Etats-Unis. Arrivée en France en 1981 pour étudier la littérature et l’histoire, elle y est restée, s’installant à Paris, où elle élève ses deux enfants et gagne sa vie en tant que journaliste. The Zen teacher and poet Amy “Tu es cela” Hollowell Sensei was born and raised in Minneapolis, but came to France in 1981 to study literature and history and has lived in Paris ever since, raising her two children and making a living as a journalist.


  1. fake uhren 23 juillet 2013 at 3 h 39 min - Reply Rationales Denken und das Verst?ndnis von einer Person zum Zwecke der Durchführung Brücke erreicht. Grund ist die emotionale geistige Aktivit?t Schaltregler. Emotional oft eine schlechte Sache, Geist engagiert oft gelingen.

  2. Tu es cela 22 février 2011 at 23 h 09 min - Reply

    Hi Sheila. Sorry for the tardy reply. I’ve been adjusting to my "post-retreat" life! Well, not really, but this week has clearly been different from last week.

    Bearing witness, whether to joy or to suffering, means just being there WITH it, rather than being there WITHOUT it as we so often are because we have something else on our mind.

    Just notice whatever arises. The cat purring next to me, the row of homeless people in the Métro, the Libyan people yearning to be free, the insane man oppressing them, the toilet flushing, the stars in the sky, the flowers wilting in their vase: each is a manifestation of what is called, for wont of a better word, "emptiness." Although I might argue for "fullness."

    It’s neither "good" nor "bad," it’s just FULLY, exactly what it is, nothing more, nothing less.

    Bearing witness means recognizing that. The "response" will arrive naturally, perfectly, if we let it do its thing (rather than "our" thing).

  3. sheila 21 février 2011 at 9 h 04 min - Reply

    Just back from the retreat in the lake district and opening up my computer to read what has been happening for everyone. we truly are all buddha. and for me – how to respond to the pain and suffering all around? resonating with the joy is easy, but the suffering, i don’t know how to respond. Amy you wrote "……….As Bernie Glassman says, "If you deepen your practice of moving outside your comfort zone, letting go of fixed ideas and bearing witness to the joy and suffering around you, loving actions will emerge that reduce suffering in the world."……………………."
    please would you say more about "bearing witness" to the suffering? what does it mean to "bear witness"?

  4. amour partagé 21 février 2011 at 8 h 41 min - Reply

    "Serenity is not the freedom from the storm
    but peace withinin the storm.
    What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matter compared to what lies within us".
    Ralph Waldo Emerson.

    To share this (which is so present for me) with you.

  5. ann 20 février 2011 at 19 h 10 min - Reply

    "listening" to it – feels so right for me.
    For there is atention, awareness, and openness –
    i wanted to write for "something" – but in fact it is at the same time opennes to ourselves – to whatever – for listening is complete –
    This is a beautifull thing in "listening" like that "the something" is just the other side of ourselves or of whatever?

  6. Tu es cela 20 février 2011 at 17 h 15 min - Reply

    "Naming" in this sense is something like recognizing whatever it is for what it is, receiving it without judging, listening to it. It means naming it in a language that you don’t know.

  7. Tiago 20 février 2011 at 14 h 29 min - Reply

    what do you mean by "naming" ?

  8. Tu es cela 20 février 2011 at 13 h 06 min - Reply

    Yes, the territory is important, both as the part and as the whole. That is, the part IS the whole and the whole IS the part.

    If we don’t see the parts – the fat man with an overloaded cart ahead of me in the supermarket line, the drunk homeless woman on the street outside, the dog peeing on the tree, the friendly newsstand vendor, the handsome fellow delivering the television news, the little girl and her brother arguing in the Métro, the fancy neighborhood I’m passing through, people sitting in Lisbon, Maputo, London, Paris, Mumbai, Toulouse, and people not sitting in those same places – we don’t see the whole.

    Part of "seeing" them means "naming" them.

    As Bernie Glassman says, "If you deepen your practice of moving outside your comfort zone, letting go of fixed ideas and bearing witness to the joy and suffering around you, loving actions will emerge that reduce suffering in the world."

    There are a number of ways to do this deepening, to open and be present to whatever arises.

    This retreat was one modest attempt to help us do that.

  9. wild flower 20 février 2011 at 9 h 23 min - Reply

    being a wild flower during this retreat in the heart of life gave "me" the desire to write on the blog ("I" could not imagine) to speak to you,
    thank you…

    being a wild flower over this retreat in the heart of life gives me the desire to sit tomorrow morning from 7.30 to 8.30,
    with you…


  10. wild flower sophie 20 février 2011 at 1 h 28 min - Reply

    being a wild flower all over the world
    being a wild flower with each of you
    through the night
    through the heart
    sitting and bowing

  11. miacravo 19 février 2011 at 22 h 13 min - Reply

    I have been reading the commentaires of these days of retreat and don´t feel I have anything worth adding.
    For me, a schedule of meditation like this or other, was really interesting because I knew there was always someone, somewhere, sitting, in the same attitude as mine.
    And so the bell does´t go…

  12. brigitte 19 février 2011 at 22 h 05 min - Reply

    Being with you all was great,
    being with you and knowing it,
    being with you while forgetting it,
    Feeling strong because getting professional acknowledgment
    feeling vulnerable when hearing you, speaking or silent, in our last circle,
    feeling joy and pain and love in the circle of life
    understanding and not understanding the danse of the life
    Being is great.

  13. ann 19 février 2011 at 19 h 56 min - Reply

    The whole week and before i practised to be very much to be close to myself. My body – my breath – emotions coming up – meanwhile conected with all around – worldwide this time.
    I don’t have the feeling that excludes at all being in touch with all around – it just deepens it – this is how i feel it.
    There is nothing wrong with the territory- living our territory – it is through this living body there is awareness isn’t it? Isn’t that great? the self-image is an other matter –
    as long as we let it not imprison us…

    Sitting in the waiting room of the hospial: Being in touch with the person in front of you. The first vieuw – without direction, without a goal – meeting eye to eye – pure – then the cinema starts – but this cinema is true too – it is us meeting and hiding in our preconditioned-patern-way… this is the territory begining …
    I feel we have to embrace this territory too – for it is a part of us – and only just in accepting we can realy get in touch? with ourselves – so with all around… This territory is the shape of our fears, no? We have to include- embrace our fears to realy get connected, no? Connection is not floating in a vacuum. It is here and now. Between nature, the weather, the world – the stars, and closer: wounded, damaged people as they are – only…

    When we are just – aware – there is no question of territory…

    This is a bit a weard factor in this retreat. That we try to write something about it. But what we write is never that. But it is a pedagogical mean – i understand.

    Thank you so much Amy Sensei – for the openness and the warmth in all this. You did bring something wonderfull into our lives. Something that is in fact allways there – when we can open up to it…
    And thanks to all with me/us this week.

  14. Ryonen 19 février 2011 at 19 h 10 min - Reply

    Tomorrow we will have Zazenkai in Mainz/ Germany
    I am going to take this wonderful experience with me for my Sangha
    Not only the experience, but all of you!
    Deep bow to you Amy Sensei for this adventure of the
    connected hearth throughout space and time.
    I feel love and gratitude. !!!!!!!
    Marzena & Noemi

  15. Sarah 19 février 2011 at 17 h 23 min - Reply

    And so the bell goes…..

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