Welcome to my web page, my name is Chökyi (this is my Buddhist name, which in Tibetan means "joy in dharma").
For more than four years I have lived in solitary retreat under the guidance of my lama, living a life of silence devoted to the practice of shamatha meditation.
This is a brief story of my journey into retreat.
After studying Fine Arts and design, I enjoyed a career in the creative arts for many years. While recovering from a painful back injury, I became interested in the healing arts, and inspired through my own suffering to help others alleviate theirs, I trained in various complementary therapies like sports massage and aromatherapy.
Over the years working as a therapist, it became clear that I could only offer short-lived, limited relief to the discomfort and difficulties my clients presented, and this left me deeply dissatisfied. I truly longed to be able to assist in a more profound and efficient way, in a way that could directly address the causes of their suffering.
Through closely working with people, studying and getting to know the complexity of the unease and pain they experienced, I began to realize that the path to genuine and sustainable wellbeing, to the authentic alleviation of suffering, lies in deeply working with and transforming the mind, not the body.
Simultaneously, I became curious about meditation and I started researching and practicing it.
Later on, I trained as an MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) teacher. Although it was a step in the right direction, I felt this approach to meditation was incomplete and narrow, and still lacked the depth I was looking for.
I began to yearn for a teacher, a spiritual guide who could take me beyond mindfulness, but I truly didn´t know where to look or who to turn to. Shortly after, I encountered the teachings of whom now is my lama, B. Alan Wallace, and began exploring the practices of shamatha and the Four Applications of Mindfulness.
In 2016, I decided to follow lama Alan´s online retreat "The Foolish Dharma of an Idiot Clothed in Mud and Feathers", by Düdjom Lingpa, my first proper venture into both Buddhist and Dzogchen teachings.
These are some of the comments he made on shamatha:
"Is it possible for people like us, screwed up by modernity, to fully achieve shamatha, to go through all stages and fully get it? There is no doubt that it has been achieved by many individuals in the past, many of my lamas have. Is it possible for us, are we too damaged goods?
Shamatha is a temporary retreat into simplicity from the complexities of the world. For a while you withdraw, you are useless to the world. You withdraw because of compassion.
Is it worth it? Is a major investment!!!! Is a lot of sacrifice, time, effort… What is the return? Atisha, who is said to be the speech emanation of Padmasambhava, says that if you achieve shamatha you can do more good in the world in one day that in hundred lives without it.
But is it possible? What if I fail, have I wasted my time? That´s impossible, if you have the right motivation, practice correctly with ethics, even if you do one day is useful.
Every moment of practice is a success."
There and then awakened in my heart a deep yearning to go on retreat that, in a short time, would grow so strong and loud I was left with no choice but to honour it, even though I didn´t really know back then what retreat would entail at all... I learned the hard way when I actually went for it!
Later that year I attended my first shamatha retreat with lama Alan. From then on, my aspiration to enter retreat was set solid and, fortunate to be in a financial situation in which I could devote some time to meditation retreat, it didn´t take me long to leave my job in pursue of my heart´s deepest longing, initially thinking it would just be for a few months.
In 2017 I joined the annual winter retreat at the Centre for World Peace and Health in Holy Isle (Scotland). This was followed by Lama Alan´s 2-month retreat at Lama Tsongkhapa Institute (Tuscany), centred around the teachings of Düdjom Lingpa.
Afterwards, I could not envision a life path other than devoting myself to retreat.
Whereas most people prepare for some time, even years, to enter retreat, I went from nearly zero dharma to full-time solitary retreat in very little time.
I do not consider myself very knowledgeable in terms of dharma, but I know enough to nurture my motivation, balance my practice and slowly progress through the path of shamatha.
I have now been in solitary retreat since July 2017, and I am committed to a life devoted to exploring the potential of the mind and the nature of human consciousness. I believe this is the most meaningful and authentic way in which I can be of service to my fellow sentient beings, and I hope to one day offer the insights and knowledge that I am acquiring in contribution to the positive transformation of this world.
"This is the Buddha’s view, this is what he has found to be true: consciousness is not physical, it goes back and back, and it will continue, continue; suffering and its causes can be removed from the mind utterly – and that’s a pretty revolutionary concept, philosophically and psychologically – and that every being has this got this potential. And it’s got far more subtle levels of cognition than we posit in modern psychology and neuroscience. The Hindus discovered this before the Buddha: with śamatha, they accessed these subtler levels of their own mind. And still today there are people like you and me, up in the mountains, metaphorically or actually, accomplishing this single-pointed concentration. It is not a dead technique. It’s a living technique, and it was around well before the Buddha; he happily took it with him when he diverged in his own direction."
- Robina Courtin
I want to thank Lama Alan for his teachings and guidance, for his kindness, patience and trust in me; my loving, patient and generous parents; my vajra brothers and sisters, for their continuous encouragement and support; and all of my friends, with many of whom I have not spoken for several years, for their patience and understanding.
“All those who are unhappy in the world are so as a result of their desire for their own happiness. All those who are happy in the world are so as a result of their desire for the happiness of others.”