Margaret Duperly grew up in Jamaica and has lived in the US for 17 years, but her words still have a distinctive Jamaican lilt to them. She is a painter and sculptor and a retreat coordinator at a worker-owned cooperative retreat center called Breitenbush Hot Springs in Oregon. She has come to California for several retreats now, and appears to be hooked.
I came to PZI by way of a long retreat, having read John Tarrant’s books and being impressed and intrigued. I was familiar with Buddhism but had never even thought of trying koans, except that knowing I was coming to the retreat I read up on them a little. The retreat experience was wonderful and I found a pleasing generosity and kindness in the teachers and the group. I became a member because I wanted to support the work. My heart opened to it. I loved the combination of traditional and new, the poetry, humor and art, the emphasis on direct experience.
Then, after a fairly short time of practicing the koan way and getting more serious about meditation, I was amazed to notice changes in myself! Shifts in attitudes I had thought basic to my personality. After a lifetime of thinking of myself as someone who often did not know what to say, suddenly I found myself engaged in true conversations with all sorts of people. I noticed I saw them in a warm new way. Life got so interesting that reading books no longer seems essential. Traffic noise stopped bothering me. I like apples now, which is convenient living in the Northwest.
And I think my singing voice has improved!
Those things are fun and rewarding to experience, but more than that, through this practice the world is seeming to open up and welcome me in, in ways I never dreamed were possible. For this I am full of wonder and gratitude.
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