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KMC NYC's Annual Country Retreat at the World Peace Temple, Glen Spey

Every year, KMC NYC hosts a weekend away at the upstate Temple. This is a unique opportunity for our Sangha to take time away together, and receive teachings from Kadam Morten on emptiness. It's during these weekends that we have the chance to deepen our understanding of what it would be like to be free of all limited self conceptions and begin to authentically identify with our potential.

This year, Kadam Morten explored the relationship between emptiness and compassion, and how it is emptiness that enables us to let go of our ordinary identity, our limited self and become a Bodhisattva -- a being bound for enlightenment.

Below, some of our Sangha members share what moved them most and the ideas that they'll be taking away from the teachings to move forward with their personal practice.

Enjoy!

Kadampa Meditation Center NYC Country Retreat

Lesly

Right before this retreat a situation arose that's been very challenging for me and it was making me feel really trapped. It hasn't been easy to apply Dharma to this situation. This retreat has helped me so much. It made me realize that I'm actually powerless to protect anyone in my current state - I can't even protect my own son. I care so much but there's only so much I can do. Rather than having that destroy me I'm going to use it to empower me. I need to attain enlightenment...I'm so powerless if I don't. This difficult experience in my life can take me in one of two directions but the only choice is enlightenment. 
Kadampa Meditation Center NYC Country Retreat

Trinity

I really appreciate the idea of coming from a place that isn't identified with ego. I can totally understand how that changes dynamics. You have your story in the background but now I can see it's something I could drop. Talking about things that are real is good or otherwise it's better to stay silent. 
Kadampa Meditation Center NYC Country Retreat

Tamara

Kadam Morten made it very possible to actually envision loving everybody and wanting to take care of everyone. That has always seemed so overwhelming to me but during this retreat, by focusing on how we're a cell in a vast body of life, made it clear to me.

Kadampa Meditation Center NYC Country Retreat

Marita

I am taking away the importance of being joyful to be a Bodhisattva. When you have the joy it's much easier to move along the path you are wanting to travel. 
Kadampa Meditation Center NYC Country Retreat

Chris

I've understood how the problem is not the appearance of the self, the problem is the grasping at the self.  It’s not that we have to abandon our family and friends and our job to make progress spiritually. When we change the mind with which we bring to our life, and release the grasping at our limited self, we can operate more freely and be in the world but less of the world, so it has less power over us... which means we reclaim our power
Kadampa Meditation Center NYC Country Retreat

Daniel

I am taking away that it's do-able - living life from the lens of a Bodhisattva. It's not about being, it's about becoming a Bodhisattva. Step by step, day by day. When we keep a joyful, flexible, loving mind, with a similitude of emptiness, practicing the six perfections will naturally flow from that. 
Kadampa Meditation Center NYC Country Retreat

Marcia

During this retreat, I've been thinking a lot about how if you are identifying with your Buddha nature all the time you’re joyful all the time. If you’re unhappy it’s because you're wrapped up in a limited version of yourself, which doesn’t exist.
Kadampa Meditation Center NYC Country Retreat

Sandy and Alex

Sandy: This retreat has helped me see that cherishing a self that doesn’t exist is so crazy and I need to hear that over and over and over again. Every time I hear it, it chips away at my sense of a limited self. Also, the fact that that self doesn’t even exist means there’s no inherent delusions, because if that self doesn't exist how could it have delusions?
 
Alex: I've been thinking about how Kadam explained that some meditations you need to build up to, like Exchanging Self with Others. If you lose the object though, you don’t need to try to jump back to where you were, you can just go back and build up again. You don’t need to push yourself to experience joy.
Kadampa Meditation Center NYC Country Retreat

Dale and Blair

Dale: During this retreat, I've felt a deepening connection to other people and the feeling that I can take this Bodhichitta part more into my life. So with the people I deal with everyday I can be coming more from the heart. I've really enjoyed the deep, rich conversations I've had, getting to know people better, feeling more connected. Also, I've never been at the Temple in June. It's as beautiful outside as it is inside.

Blair: This weekend, I came in touch with a four-lane highway of blessings running through me. I feel I am going to be able to bring that back with me to NYC. Usually I feel the blessings mostly when I'm meditating. Now I feel like I'm going to be able to take this into my life. This is do-able. It's all about keeping the blessings flowing, the conduit open all the time and not just when I'm sitting down meditating. This Temple is sacred ground. I really feel that.

Kadampa Meditation Center NYC Country Retreat

Sharon and Andrea

Sharon: I loved the feeling of identifying myself as a Bodhisattva - abiding and connecting to that and feeling it's really possible. That was so powerful an experience because we're always identified with our limited self. So it's good to realize what Geshe-la is really clear on - we can achieve enlightenment. This is very possible for us. "I have Buddha nature" - I need to hear this again and again, in a place like this.  
I have thought about this a lot but because the blessings are so powerful here, the idea just drops in deeper and I feel it's really possible. 
 
Andrea: I like what he said in the last session about imputing ourself on blessings. Usually when I think about blessings I feel like, "wait am I getting them? Am I feeling it?" Now I can just impute myself on them. Which means I don't need to feel separate from that energy. There's no journey to feeling that connection. I can just be there. 
Kadampa Meditation Center NYC Country Retreat

Janna

One of the many takeaways I had is that our lives are profoundly meaningful and matter - we can all be powerful agents of change. I also got a chance to immerse myself in a beautiful place with beautiful teachings and  a wonderful community!
Kadampa Meditation Center NYC Country Retreat

Yogi and Dani

Yogi: Kadam Morten explained how we see a chipmunk and usually we enjoy its appearance out of attachment. I've been thinking about how this also applies to people too. If I see an attractive person and I only think about how attractive they are, then I'm cherishing my ordinary self because I see their attractiveness rather than their suffering. Which is why attachment is such a self-cherishing mind. 
 
Dani: I love what Kadam said about Buddha nature - it is the emptiness of the self. Your true self is emptiness. Emptiness is your Buddha nature. 
Kadampa Meditation Center NYC Country Retreat

Hussain and Kevin

Hussain: I now understand that ultimate truth is emptiness...it's like the bottom of the ocean. I may be on the surface of the ocean attached to the world right now, but I want to go deep!

Kevin: Friday night at the introduction Kadam Morten talked about how we're all basically the same. The circumstances of our lives may be different, but underneath we all want the same thing - to be loved, to feel joy, to be happy. If we can connect at that level, then we'll feel connected to people even when they're being difficult. So the key is, instead of caring so much about what people are saying connect with what they really feel.

Kadampa Meditation Center NYC Country Retreat

Kshitij

I'm new to Buddhism and Modern Buddhism. Now I really understand the practice of meditation more deeply. Also, I feel a more complete knowledge of Buddhism - how the different parts of Buddhism come together - What the path is and how you are supposed to walk on that path. Now I feel much more able to make progress.
Country Retreat - Tiphaine

Tiphaine

I can sum up what I am taking away from this retreat in one word: audacious - the Bodhisattva's mind is audacious. It's fearless and free! I want to with that fearless and free mind. 
Kadampa Meditation Center NYC Country Retreat

Miro

I've been thinking about how viewing the person in front of you as the ambassador of all living beings can really touch you. Often times we are grouping and separating people due to self-grasping, but instead you can imagine every living being is part of one organism and relate to all beings through the person you are talking to or the animal you're dealing with right now.
Kadampa Meditation Center NYC Country Retreat

Andrea

One thing I have been thinking about is the practice of Exchanging Self with Others and the concepts of distance and time. I have family all over the world and they've always felt so far from me. But why do I feel there's distance? There's no reason to feel there's any separation. It's just an idea. And another thing I've been thinking about is how I might say to myself, "what challenges in my life can I turn into an opportunity?" Now thinking about that statement I see that it automatically makes me look for what's difficult. Now I am going to change that thinking to, "what opportunities should I take advantage of?" which means starting from a much more empowered place. 

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