Bokar Rinpoche told me before he passed away that I should do retreat and I had no idea about what kind of practices there were in the retreat. I knew it was difficult and that people had to stay inside the temple for 3 years and 9 months in isolation. I knew it could be challenging. Bokar Rinpoche said to me, “You have to enter the 3 year retreat. The previous Kalu Rinpoche is my root guru or master, and you have to be his successor. Therefore, I have the responsibility to guide you and I have built this Shangpa retreat. It is not for other people. I built it for you, so don’t think there is a second way out of this. I have already constructed a whole building, a retreat center for you. I did not build this for everybody. I built this for you so that you can reconnect with your dharma path and practice. The previous Kalu Rinpoche did that and you must do the same.” And I said, “OK”.
I had absolutely no doubt, was completely blind and maybe a little bit stupid, but I said, “Bokar Rinpoche, you are my teacher, you are my dharma instructor, so you are telling me to go to retreat, Ok, I will go to retreat, but let’s not make a big deal out of it.” In 2004, during the summer, he passed away. By the end of 2004, I went into retreat. Of course my feelings about the retreat were that it was a very important step that can help other people in the future. With this stuff, I can practice and I can do retreat. With this positive accumulation I hope that I could help other people. That was my whole feeling.
When I went into the retreat, of course with all the grand pujas and prayers and with a lots of people, it was incredible. In the morning you are talking with so many people and then you enter into one room that evening knowing that you will do the 3 year retreat. It was a little bit like a dream and the real world mixed together. In the evening you start your first practice. They close the door, everybody enters inside. There are some basic teachings going on. You are there and you say to yourself, “So now my retreat has started. I must not be a failure. I must not distract myself. I must continue with my practice from this moment.” So that is what I told myself that evening. My feeling was a little like a dream world, a little like the real world mixed together because it was very special.
It is very special and you are just fourteen years old…
From my first book < I Am a Lost and Found Buddhist >
Love and respect from your Kalu Rinpoche