The Great Retreat lasted from 8th December 2014 until 1st of April 2018.
During the month June, July and August a Washing Out followed up; and a second Washing-Out during some weeks in 2019.
I will start the next Great Retreat probably on 8th December 2019.
The Great Retreat is known in the Tibetan Buddhism. It lasts 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days. During this time the monk or the nun lives totally cut off from the world. The day is filled by meditation and spiritual exercises. The night lasts only a few hours; sleeping while seated.
The goal: the constant whirling of the mind will be brought to an end. With that the mind turns away from the ever changing world and focuses on the unchangeable, on the Absolute – or in religious terms: on God.
What exercises have to been done and what struggles have to be overcome, there is only very few published on the internet. Why? Because there is nothing to do, nothing to attain, nothing to become – and there is also nothing to lose. No activities are possible. All is about being aware.
From Tenzin Palmo I got the following personal advice:
Make sure you got the double meaning! Not to walk away from the place and not to give up the retreat.
To reach this absolute state (in religious words: the union with God, the Union Mystica) a certain environment is needed. It is necessary to free oneself from all systems of this world completely. This is why, in the Himalayan Mountains one withdraws to a cave.
I have lived with the world and I have reached what I wanted to reach. Now it is enough. That which is constantly changing does not bring about a constant satisfaction. The sense organs do like
something today, but tomorrow something else. The more wood is given to the fire of the cravings the more it burns. The more the fire burns the more wood is needed.
The whole life is attracting likes and avoiding dislikes.
God is perfection. Who has tasted once never will refrain.
It is the easiest thing and at the same time the most difficult thing to keep quiet. Just to sit there, bodily and mentally still. To be at peace with oneself. Independent of activities and of what one has reached. The deep peace surfaces from the inside and does not come from outer things.
If one keeps quiet for long enough activities no longer are possible. And it is no longer necessary to do something because one is at peace with oneself and with the world. Nevertheless if one does something, one does not gain anything. Even if one does not do anything, one does not lose anything.
To become silent and to stay silent, to let rise the inner peace is the only thing that counts. Everything else is unimportant. Nothing is more important than that. Therefore one can stop doing anything else. (The only "variety" in my days is the study of the Holy Scriptures completed by researches on the internet.)
The following three main points are understood in absolute:
Everything else is unimportant.
This was the direction I received from Swami Yogeshwarananda Giri.