At Light on the Hill, Van Etten, NY
Friday, Saturday and Sunday
June 11, 12 & 13, 2010
“Our goal is nothing less than to realize our full potential as human beings by disappearing to who and what we have always thought we are.”
This retreat is held in silence, except for group teachings/discussion with Michael, Bart and Margot.
The purpose of maintaining external silence is to encourage the development of internal silence. When we are quiet and able to focus on the workings of our own mind, we inevitably become aware of the noise and chaos of our personal mental narration. Time dedicated to silence, especially in the setting of a spiritual retreat, creates a profound opportunity to observe and experience the triviality and meaninglessness of this constant mental activity. By careful self observation and self-inquiry and we can grow sufficiently detached from identifying with the passing content of our own mind that we effortlessly lose interest in it. Only when the thinking mind is silent can spiritual transformation occur. With this perceptual shift, an entirely new and unfamiliar world opens to us.
We are very glad that you will be joining us in a supportive environment in a beautiful natural setting at Light on the Hill Retreat Center. This is an opportunity to discover for yourself the wonder of Presence Awareness. Beginning with meditation after dinner on Friday, we will be silent until lunch on Sunday, except during teaching/discussion. We wear “In Silence” tags to remind the person looking at us of their own commitment to this silence, supporting the depth of silence for each individual and the group as a whole.
About Light on the Hill
Perched high in the hills of Van Etten, New York, Light on the Hill is a retreat center which provides a space where seekers of all persuasions can find peace and solace away from their everyday worldly pursuits. The center is located on 236 acres, of woods, streams, gorges, distant views and walking paths.
Inner Light Lodge is a uniquely designed facility with large windows overlooking a sweeping view of rolling hills and meadows. The simple rooms have excellent soundproofing with a large window in each overlooking the beautiful grounds. Four bathrooms with a total of 8 showers and 10 toilets are a short walk down one of the halls. The central sacred meeting space is hexagonal in shape (1160 sq. ft.) and has continual windows on 3 sides with a 32 foot high tipi-like ceiling coming to an apex with a pyramid-shaped skylight. There is a beautiful dining room and fully equipped commercial kitchen. Rooms are chosen as participants arrive. All rooms are SINGLES with shared baths down the hall.
What to bring
All towels and sheets are provided. A person is asked to bring (1) slippers or heavy socks as we ask that shoes be removed at the door, (2) comfortable walking shoes and suitable warm clothing for winter walks, (3) personal toiletries, (4) alarm clock, & (5) robe for trips to the bathroom.
Backjacks are available as well as chairs with cushions. If you would like to use a meditation cushion or bench, please bring your own. Seating arrangements are quite informal and you may want to move from chair to floor – bring whatever you need to be comfortable.
Most cells phone do work at any place on the property. It is strongly suggested that you plan not to use your cell phone this weekend. If you need to leave an emergency number with your family or work, Light on the Hill’s telephone is: (607) 589-4419
Meals at Light on the Hill are gourmet vegetarian with many vegan options. We use organic ingredients wherever possible.
If you have special dietary needs, you can bring your own food. Those wanting meat can bring cold cuts and cans of tuna, etc. but no meat is allowed to be cooked on the premises. We ask that no liquor be served. We receive numerous high praises about the food we serve.
Please see: http://lightonthehill.org/findus.cfm
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to email me at email@example.com. Once you have arrived at Light on the Hill, you will be checked in, assigned a room, and have an opportunity to explore the beautiful grounds and retreat center.
Karen Madsen and Gaye King will be in charge of daily operations. Questions of any sort should be directed to Karen or Gaye first. They will meet with me as needed.
Michael Hall PhD
A silent retreat is a rare and wonderful opportunity to dive deeply into awareness of what is true, enduring, unchanging. This “substrata” of existence is always with you, never abandons you, and yet rarely is noticed. Anything at all that we say about “it” is superfluous and indirect. It is best communicated by pure physical presence. The best art, music, and poetry reveal it to us. External and internal silence helps us to recognize this subtle yet continuous undercurrent of the real awareness of what is. Natural settings facilitate our ability to notice the world instead of our mental constructions of the world. A shared group intent formed as individuals practice attunement to reality together raises everyone’s ability to pay attention. In the Zen Buddhist tradition this energy has its own name: joriki. This group-generated energy is very real, almost palpable. In the previous retreats I have led, the emergence of this group energy arises predictably within 24 hours or so. I have rarely felt it as strongly outside of a retreat setting. Silence, concentration, lack of distractions, and seriousness of purpose facilitate this flow of chi-like energy.
Metaphor, allusion, and simile are the spiritual teachers’ forte. In the Gospel of Matthew 13:3, it is noted: “Then he told them many things in parables, saying ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed….’”. The best spiritual teaching always occurs in a format that is relevant and understandable to the audience at hand. Shakyamuni Buddha, Jesus Christ, Moses, Abraham, Ramana Maharshi and countless others have taught those with eyes to see and ears to hear in a similar manner. Narrative and story-telling often by-pass the ordinary defense structures and are utilized freely. The deepest truths are communicated through a kind of energetic resonance that is difficult to describe yet also strangely familiar. This different way of learning requires a letting-go of our ordinary death-grip on the illusion of personal control. Slipping into this open awareness is effortless for some, torturous for others. Some relaxation of our hyper-focused attention to data, logic, and reason is necessary for all who wish to recognize who and what they actually are, always have been, and can’t not be.
Friday June 11
4-6 Arrival and check-in
6:30 Dinner-Silence begins after dinner
7:30 Silent Meditation
8:15 Teaching/discussion with Michael
The Ego Deconstruction Process
9:30 Free time/bed
Saturday June 12
7:30 Optional meditation
8:30 Free time
10:00 Teaching/ Discussion with Bart Marshall and Margot Ridler and Michael
1:00 Free time
3-4:30 Joint Satsang Michael, Bart and Margot
4:30 Free Time
5:00 Chanting/Singing/Drumming (Feel free to bring our own instruments)
5:30 Guest Surprise/ Janine Waldron
6:00 Free time
8:00 Free time
Sunday June 13
7:30 Optional meditation
8:30 Free time
10:20 Teaching Michael/ Discussion Bart, Margot, and Michael
11:50 Break/Group Picture
12:00 Free time
12:30 Lunch/talking resumes
Retreat ends after lunch