April 10 – 14, 2022
Start Sunday April 10, 2pm on the streets of New York City
End Thursday April 14, 10am
*This street plunge will proceed barring unforeseen spikes in Covid among vaccinated people. You must be fully vaccinated to attend. We’ll all be watching the course of Covid unfold in the coming months, and will make decisions about going ahead with the retreat as realities unfold.
2,500 years ago Shakyamuni Buddha led his monks each day in the practice of begging for food, receiving whatever was offered with gratitude. In this retreat we will plunge into a variation on this early Buddhist practice of letting go of attachments.
We will live on the streets of New York City with no resources other than our true nature. We will experience homelessness first-hand: begging for money, finding places to get food, finding shelter, finding bathrooms, etc. By bearing witness to homelessness in this way, we start to directly see our impulses, assumptions, prejudices, and boundaries. Practicing with Not-Knowing and Bearing Witness we experience our interconnection, recognize our common humanness, and realize our responsibilities.
We begin our begging practice before our retreat starts by assembling a mala, or beads that are strung together and worn like a bracelet or necklace. Each bead represents a person who sponsors that participant’s street retreat, and the entire mala represents the community of support. We will wear our malas on the street retreat. Money collected through this begging practice will go to the social service agencies and public non-profit organizations that will support our lives on the street and to support the social action projects at Bread Loaf Mountain.
“When we go… to bear witness to life on the streets, we’re offering ourselves. Not blankets, not food, not clothes, just ourselves.” – Bernie Glassman, Bearing Witness