A Silent Thanksgiving Alone

The day after tomorrow, I’ll be heading to Bhavana Society for a 4-night silent meditation retreat. This (schedule below) is what my Thanksgiving Day will be like:

  • 4:45 AM Wake-up gong
  • 5:00 AM -5:30 AM Yoga
  • 5:30 AM -6:45 AM Meditation
  • 7:00 AM -7:45 AM Breakfast
  • 8:00 AM -8:45 AM Work period
  • 9:00 AM -11:00 AM Meditation
  • 11:15 AM-12:00 PM Lunch
  • 12:00 PM-2:00 PM Personal time
  • 2:00 PM -5:00 PM Meditation and Dhamma Talk
  • 5:00 PM -6:00 PM Yoga
  • 6:00 PM -7:00 PM Tea (optional)
  • 7:00 PM -9:00 PM Meditation or Dhamma Talk

I know– not exactly what you’d expect from a family dinner enthusiast/evangelist like me, but a time to embrace quietude and introspection is just as nourishing of an experience in my books.

“Find a cause where your heart doesn’t feel inactive.”

There’s been a lot to think about these past few weeks, and, like many others, my mind has been feeling busy and scatterbrained lately. I’ve been thinking about what role I need to play in my community now, and how best I can contribute to it. I’ve been questioning how I can be a fearless leader, even though I am one of those marginalized persons that need allies. I’ve been wondering how someone who’s dedicated his working life to empowering marginalized communities can take on even more social justice causes without running the risk of experiencing compassion fatigue. I’ve been asking myself how I can cultivate “skillful fear” by facing it down and recognizing it as a temporary mind state, and then using it productively by redirecting its energy into courage and action.

A Vietnamese monk named Phap Dung recently recommended: “Go take refuge in nature, and find a cause where your heart doesn’t feel inactive and in despair. This is the medicine.”

I’ll get back to my questions soon, but for now– I’ll sit, breathe, and take refuge in nature.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all. Take care of each other.

[Walking meditation woods, Jesup, GA, 12/17/2012]


  • Is this Bhavana in WV? Gunaratana came to C’ville once and got to meditate with him–exceptional.
    I would ask: which self is it who suffers compassion fatigue? If the ego is out of the way, something larger is operating, and does not get fatigued. Think of the 74-year old Bernie Sanders traveling day and night on commercial flights and staying in hotels and never withering. How is this possible? It is because he was not doing it for himself, and something else came through.
    Funny, I don’t see you as being marginalized or needing allies in any sense. You carry a particular energy and people are drawn to it, which is a different phenomenon. Once in dream group you read a dream that had a line “the textures of love”, which I unabashedly stole and put in the novel I was writing. This lies at the core of who you are and what you carry in the world. Nature is always a refuge for that. Enjoy!

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