That’s life

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That’s life

A minor disruption in my quiet Sunday night: I had just finished writing something to post here about the end of our retreat when somehow it all got wiped out. Gone forever. Like the retreat…

Now what?

At the end of a retreat I attended some years ago, an anxious participant asked my teacher’s teacher what he should do after the retreat, when he had to return to his daily activities and difficulties, his joys and troubles, with work, family, and all the rest. My teacher’s teacher said: « If you don’t want to leave the retreat, don’t enter the retreat. »

What he meant was that as you soon as you make that separation – retreat/not retreat – you create trouble for yourself. But if everything is retreat, if whatever you do is retreat, then there’s nothing to leave, even if there are different activities, etc. It’s all important, it’s all sacred, it’s all impermanent.

This is where freedom lies.

We had a taste of that this week. It’s radically simple, I know. That’s life. Thanks for joining us in the heart of it.

By | 2016-04-17T22:02:01+00:00 avril 17th, 2016|Textes|14 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. Kathleen 19 avril 2016 at 8 h 35 min - Reply

    Like Tomas, I wonder whether the retreat has really ended, and like Tiago, I found retreating into the heart of my life had the effect of opening it up.
    Wonderful to hear from you all and good to know there were many silent participants sharing the experience. My thanks and my love to you all. Obrigada, Kathleen

  2. Rita 18 avril 2016 at 23 h 05 min - Reply

    Dear dharma brothers and sisters,
    It was/is indeed very special for me too. Unique as life.
    I bow to all with a deep smile and closed eyes.

  3. Helena 18 avril 2016 at 21 h 43 min - Reply

    May the Stillness be with you!
    Stillness between thoughts, words, action.
    Enjoy life
    Thank you Roshi Amy
    Thank you all

  4. zoe 18 avril 2016 at 13 h 06 min - Reply

    Thank you for this clear sum up. In a way, it is the truth of each moment that we saw, reviewed and experienced together on Saturday. The clarity of « truth » is always fresh, and right by its side, there is confusion that penetrates and the habitual reflex of hanging on to what’s at hand. Retreats, and good friends help me see through these habits.
    With a deep bow and all my love, especially to our honorary participant–the cat.

  5. Tomas 18 avril 2016 at 12 h 50 min - Reply

    Dear Amy, dear all,
    Thank you for this great opportunity to share life together this week, it was really something very special, in all its ordinariness (!!!)
    Like for Tiago, retreats used to be for me an opportunity to disconnect from the chaos of everyday life. Not so much anymore, particularly on the Heart of Life retreat container, which I so much appreciate 🙂 It is wonderful how it allows us the opportunity to more deeply engage into the chaos and ‘storms’ of everyday life with ease and an open heart, finding so many resources inside to cope and engage with it all compassionately and creatively 🙂 I guess these are the resources we all have when we say YES to life (& death). I must say the only day I was more distant from the daily retreat invitation/koan was on the last one, on the meal ingredients, as on that day I was overly busy with work, baby, and workers coming to the house to install a new boiler. On top of that, that was also my 44 year birthday! Looking back on that day, the ingredients were all your posts, the tasks in the office I had at hand, family and everything else. And the key ingredient among all was LOVE! So thanks again for sharing your lives and presence with me, and for allowing me to share mine with all of you. Hope to meet you all in Life-Retreat again! Has the retreat really ended?… I don’t think so 🙂

  6. Evi 18 avril 2016 at 12 h 13 min - Reply

    Retreat or no retreat. At the moment I would enjoy seeing you all in real and spend some time together. Doesn’t matter if drinking a good wine (at least 10 year old Portwine, I learned my lecture) or sharing an okyoki meal. Bow to all of you and bow to you, Amy. It’s good to know you as an incredient of my life.

  7. marlene 18 avril 2016 at 9 h 18 min - Reply

    Gone Gone
    and always here!
    Thank you Amy Roshi
    Gasho all

  8. céu 18 avril 2016 at 7 h 05 min - Reply

    have a nice non retreat, you all

  9. Tiago 17 avril 2016 at 23 h 37 min - Reply

    The reason why I love these retreats in the midst of everyday life is because of that single quote from your teacher’s teacher. When I first started « retreating » it was to get away from what ever was my daily life and which I wasn’t so happy with. The problem wasn’t outside me, though. And this practice has shown me that and helped me sorting myself Out.
    The fact is that during these retreats in the heart of life I am forced to be aware of what I am doing, every single moment and action of it, and makes me realise how full and perfect it all simply IS.
    Thank you all for being here and sharing your days, so full of yourselves.
    Thank you sensei for giving us the opportunity to do so.
    Thank you and thank you again.

  10. Madalena - Esposende 17 avril 2016 at 23 h 36 min - Reply

    Thank you for this opportunity to meditate together..

  11. Nuno "Hazy Moon" 17 avril 2016 at 23 h 27 min - Reply

    A fish floats in the pond
    A frog shivers in the cold
    Only one feels alive.

    Gassho to you all!
    Coimbra, Portugal

  12. Christine 17 avril 2016 at 22 h 50 min - Reply

    Thank you Amy for the posts and the retreat, and all the participants.
    I had a wonderful day working in the garden with the whole family, that was our supreme meal today.
    And on Friday I finally called a neighbor that had a baby three weeks ago and where I wasn’t sure whether I should go and make a short visit or not as we don’t know each other very well, just from our kids that are in the same class. She was very pleased that I came, I brought some flowers from the garden and we shared a tea. It was just perfect.

  13. Telma 17 avril 2016 at 22 h 33 min - Reply

    Thank you.

    I bow.

  14. Sophie 17 avril 2016 at 22 h 32 min - Reply

    So…there is no separation retreat/no retreat, no enter no leave, but/and there is a present moment which becomes a past moment « gone forever »…?

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