In less than a week, I will be setting out on my 3.5 hour car ride to Camp Gorham in order to teach the 2011 Black Belt Winter Retreat. This will be the 20th retreat and it has been 10 years since it has been held at Camp Gorham. There is a poem called “Deer Park Hermitage” that I often quote to my students because it holds the distinction of being my favorite poem. Most Black Belts that know me know that it is my favorite poem, except Master Hamilton and Master Shaffer, who believe my favorite to be a selection from the Tao Te Ching. However, I don’t think any of them realize why. During the very first winter retreat, there were only 6 black belts in attendance. It was a strict meditation retreat – no talking and 10 hours of sitting meditation a day. Toward the end of the retreat, the black belts needed to be exercised, so I decided that we would climb a nearby mountain (mountains in NY are not really mountains they are just called that – more like very large hills compared to the Rockies). Once we finally got to the top, we found a clearing with a small rise in its center and one tree. This is where the “spoon” is located that Master Shaffer talks about in her posts (hopefully she will explain it to you all at some point). While my black belts were enjoying their time not sitting in front of a wall and having way to much fun talking, I sat down in the snow and continued my meditation practice while looking out over the surrounding area. As always while meditating, stray thoughts enter and leave the mind and that time was no exception. However, it wasn’t just a random thought that entered my mind that time, it was the “Deer Park Hermitage” poem. I just sat there as the words of the poem flowed through my mind. No thought other than the words. Then when they faded, noting but emptiness – clear mind. The impact of that experience can’t be put into words. There is so much contained in that poem that is so relevant to martial art practitioners. In the future I hope to talk about the individual lines and the “hidden” meaning of each of them. Until then, enjoy:
Deer Park Hermitage
So lone seem the hills; there is no one in sight.
But whence is the echo of voices I hear?
The rays of the sunset pierce slanting the forest,
And in their reflection green mosses appear.