Being at KTD creates an opportunity to reconnect with yourself in many ways; direct contact with nature is one of them. KTD’s natural world has been a source of joy and inspiration for those of us who participated in the Pilgrimage-Retreat.
A taste of what was to come happened on the first day of the Retreat; just before practice, the sky was colored with four splendid rainbows, two at the front and two on the side of the Gompa. We enjoyed them, enraptured.
During the moments of silence, we seemed to perceive the melody of the six-syllable mantra resounding in our surroundings, exactly as Rinpoche taught us. In front of us, the form of the Compassionate Avalokiteshvara wrapped us in a multitude of forms and colors that invited contemplation. Gardens brimmed with a great variety of flowers that appeared as a beautiful white mandala.
Pine woods manifest green tones at this time of year, and are the home of the many beings that enrich the KTD surroundings. As soon as the rays of sunrise appeared in the horizon, a symphony of bird song invited us to rejoice in the opportunity of living a new day. The enthusiasm of the birds was joined by the chant of cicadas and other beings that made us feel alive and vibrant, ready to start the morning practice with an authentic motivation.
During the afternoon, the tormas that were part of the offerings during the day were placed in the back area of the principal Gompa, just a few steps away from the walkway. It is a true gift for the squirrels, birds, 20 wild turkeys and the family of bears favored by the retreatants. A beautiful brown female bear and her two cubs have been some of the most memorable wildlife encounters of our stay at KTD.
The atmosphere of love and compassion permeates, without a doubt. We celebrated the contact with a small caterpillar that wandered inside the Gompa. “It looks like she is doing prostrations”, someone said. Others spoke of rescuing small frogs and placing them in safety away from the lawn mower, or out of bright light. “I saw a deer,” a friend tells me, describing the scene outside her dorm as he meekly stopped to feed, entrancing everyone with his presence.
When we arrived, Lama Karma recommended we visit a small pond nearby the Monastery. “Follow the prayer flags”, he told us, “The pond has fish and some ducks and it is really beautiful.” Beautiful indeed. The walk to the pond was quickly a mandatory practice for everyone, and we all we went at least once, sitting and hearing the deep and dry sounds the frogs make, and contemplating the birds that fly, brushing their wings against the pond’s surface.
Without a doubt, the gifts that the natural scene at KTD has offered us during the retreat enhanced and enriched this magical experience, becoming a great source of happiness and inspiration.
Photos courtesy of: Alessandra Otero, Almendra Ramírez and Miriam Cuevas-Fournier.