I do smile when I hear that some people prefer the partner of a teacher to sit retreats with other teachers rather than with their partner. It is a well intentioned thought. There is the possibility of mixing roles up roles. I regard the two roles of teacher and partner sitting the retreat as grist for the mill, raw material for practice. The two partners should agree together whether it is suitable for one partner to be the teacher and the other partner to be the practitioner. In my experience, this agreement and application works very well. Love is powerful – effortlessly embracing perceived differences.
If there is unhealthy transference, then disillusionment and anger will soon follow when the teacher is found out to be human. The power of love, of metta, embraces all aspects of a person. Dominika and I were together in India 24/7 for two months except for the 10 days of the Bodh Gaya retreat. We agreed to revert to the teacher-yogi role for the 10 days. With an impeccably straight back and serene presence, Dominika sat a couple of rows back from the “throne” where Radha, my co-teacher, and I sat in the crowded hall.
Later in the month, I conceived of a poem to Dominika. Here it is…
Her Silent Retreat
There is nothing of her voice,
nothing of her whispered words,
nothing of intimate gestures,
only the murmurings of her Buddha nature.
I am deprived of all the senses.
as she sits in front of the teacher,
a divine love that is out of reach
with erotic gestures dissolving into the platonic.
I sit there – the God on the Dharma throne
while my eye flickers in recognition of her total stillness
Outside the parrots sing of their indulgences
puppies play with the warmth of the day
leaves dance in the January sunshine,
trumpets of a street wedding
mirror the silence of her retreat.
I ring the bell to announce the end of the world
her eyes flicker, lids gentle upwardly raised
She has been kissing the earth
in the eloquence of the unspoken
and her majestic silence spreads its wings.
The air in the hall shuffles to changing forms
There is the symbolic gesture of a place to go
The recognition of a thousand lifetimes together
we drink from the briefest of intimations
the inexpressible has found its expression.
I am totally nourished on the joy of this single moment
In this fragrance of a contemplative love,
in the untidiness of the nomadics
and her capacity to walk freely around in the
deepest recesses of my welcoming soul.
The doors open with a quiet urgency to the departure of
the sitters seeking space from this enclosed world.
I sense her unhurried being, and the grace of her limitless steps.
I ease myself off the throne.
We have blessed each other in the beatitude of a moment.