GROUP RETREATS: Participants stay at the temple or another location, usually in two to four person dorms sharing bathroom facilities, joining in formal group sitting and walking meditation sessions, chanting, eating oryoki meals, participating in temple operations, and listening to and discussing dharma discourses. Time is also available for dharma transmission and private interviews with the abbot. The retreats are generally conducted in silence and no phones or any electronic devises are permitted. The XFVU seminars feature intensive study and debate of several dharma discourses in accord with the “Seven Dharma System” developed by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III while the meditation retreats also listen to discourses but focus more on sitting and walking meditation.
PRIVATE RETREATS, ISOLATED: Plans are underway to construct superadobe “Hermit Caves” where meditators may practice in total isolation with NO contact with the outside world. Priority will be given to those who wish to engage in a traditional three-year/three-month/three-day retreat, but shorter sessions are possible. These caves are only available to cultivators who have at least one complete yidam practice. You may bring your own program of practice or receive a “Retreat Dharma” from the abbot.
The caves will be designed by and empowered with dharma from H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha. They will be equipped with a simple bath and have a space for meditation/sleeping and doing prostrations. The temple will provide food and check for emergency requests daily, but will not interact with the person in retreat. No cooking or electronic equipment is allowed in the caves, nor are pets or visitors.
The XFVU Seminary program requires a three-year plus retreat. It is hopeful that the university will be able to offer student visas for this program so that foreign students may participate. Plans include construction of at least one such cave at Sanger in 2018 with more to be added to the Sanger and Ancient Buddha Temple sites as soon as possible.
PRIVATE RETREATS, QUASI-ISOLATED: Until such time as the “Hermit Caves” are available, the temple is offering a quasi-isolated option whereby, a student may engage in the same basic experience as when in complete isolation, but be able to leave the cabin to use the temple bathrooms. The cabins are slightly larger than the caves and one does not have electricity, but otherwise the program requirements would be the same. These would be intended for shorter stays and would not count as part of the Seminary requirement for a three-year plus retreat, but would help prepare a cultivator for the longer more intense experience. Two cabins will be ready for rent in 2018. It is also possible to rent a campsite and erect a small tent, using the temple bathrooms and having the temple provide daily food for another type of private retreat experience.