On Retreat

We think of a retreat as an opportunity to rest and recharge so that we may return to the fray reinvigorated. Let me suggest another purpose. While we are immersed in the routines and habits pushed on us by our current way of life – stuck in lives in which we are trapped by forces that keep us in incoherent, reactive structures of thought and action – we cannot find the space or time to let anything else in. A retreat, a break with our routines, can give us space and time, an opportunity, to let our natural buoyancy reassert itself.

In this way a retreat can be the first step in walking away from being trapped in unacknowledged futility. For this to work a retreat needs to be of long enough duration and needs to be a significant break from our routine to begin to sensitize us to the pernicious character of our immersion in Technocracy*. It is important to include a break from electricity and artificial light. To be in contact with the weather and the ground. To have food that is simple and as much as possible prepared by our own hands, collected, gathered, and cooked by us.

For me such a retreat naturally would take the form of a small boat sailing and rowing expedition done in company over a long enough period of time to allow us to harden and acclimate to its rigors, including enough lay-time for copious rest and empty time: time without constraints or compulsions, time without agendas. Time for inner and interpersonal dialogue to develop and become sustained.


Once our retreat has been completed what happens next is critical. A short re-exposure to the status quo ante will help fix one’s impressions of how trapped and futile so much of our previous existence has been. But, beyond this, it is important to consider how to salvage what we can from our previous lives while we take advantage of our recent experience in retreat to establish fundamental changes.

This requires a continuity of relationship with those with whom we have shared our retreat. A core corp can become catalyzing nodes round which a new path may develop. Each person bringing what and who they can salvage from their current lives to a new endeavor.

Such a retreat is significantly a microcosm for a potentially vital community. It is an opportunity for shared learning, for conviviality, and a profound connection with creativity to be discovered and brought into being.

Our existing patterns are so deep and pernicious. We cannot, over the course of a few hours, even if repeated on a regular schedule over months or years, disentangle ourselves from their influences. This takes time, immersion. We need to undertake a movement towards something satisfying and clear of as many assumptions as we can identify regarding where this movement might lead us.

While trapped in our Edifice of Thought we cannot imagine and work towards the kind of changes we need/can make. For this to happen requires that we leave on a journey….

Boats aren’t the only way…. Although I can’t think of a better one….


The question of intentionality needs to be examined. It seems that we take intention to be synonymous with our desire. This confusion blocks us from the true point and value of intention. Intention may be seen as a suspension of assumptions, a clearing of the docket, so that we may find what is necessary without remaining stuck within desire. This brings us into contact with tremendous power available and ready to aid us on our way.

A desire is like a wish to arrive at a particular destination. Intention allows us to see which way the currents flow, which way the wind blows, so we may find a path free of futility where vitality leads us to a destination we could not have imagined possible or desirable before.

Acting without intention is hollow and useless. In a way this is the underlying purpose of our retreat. It sensitizes us to how alienated we are from intention and how blind we are to what-is. It brings us an opportunity to work through the possibilities this change of circumstance, coupled with a change of focus, make available to us. We find out what it means to connect with intention.

There are a number of existing situations that could be the kernel for this kind of retreat. What is missing is this sense of intention along with the absolute necessity to open the experience to include people who currently have no access to what are considered by everyone to be frivolous and elitist distractions. For more on the tensions and needs surrounding this issue dive into Boats for difficult times.

*Technocracy: Not just an immersion in a world mediated by deeply layered technologies; but living in a world view in which Technology is the answer to everything. In short, living in a world limited by gross superstition masked as the height of sophistication.

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