Why Do This Type of Retreat?
Those of us involved in the Lay Monastic Paths program realize the privilege of living a healthy life in a world which is so chaotic. We love to share it with others. People who are drawn to silence and mindful service may greatly benefit from these retreats. This is an opportunity to live a genuinely spiritual life with or without actually practicing a particular religion. What is emphasized in these extended retreats is, meditation, inquiry and mindful service. There is also ample opportunity for self education. (A diverse library offers many books on spirituality, meditation, holistic living, healing, science, religion, psychology, etc. There are also many audio and video tapes by and about major spiritual leaders such as the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Krishnamurti, as well as tapes on science, comparative religion, healing, psychology, and many other subjects.)
How Will I Be Living?
Careful attention is paid to every aspect of living: from diet, exercise and sleep to meditation, inquiry, relationship and service. This kind of living encourages a whole new understanding of “spirituality in everyday living”. The beauty of this approach is that, in a safe environment, one has the chance to experience a simple life, amidst the undeniable complexity of modern living. Also, the often neglected contemplative aspect of a mature life is given the chance to flower, influencing both the life of the retreatant and the lives of those around them.
What Is the Environment?
The peaceful and very quiet retreat milieu evokes the sense of monastic living. The retreat house is small, on five beautiful acres of gardens and eucalyptus and pine trees. Unlike very structured monastic life, the Lay Monastic retreats have a simple structure: mindful work with time for study, reflection and healthy recreation besides the three meditations a day and private dialogues with Ms. Dantes. In these retreats, neutral inquiry is an integral part of the contemplative life. For many years, Ms. Dantes has presented this practice without naming it, save perhaps, “spirituality in everyday living”. People who have completed retreats with her have repeatedly expressed their new sense of peacefulness and inner freedom, and a deepening of their spirituality. This kind of retreat offers many opportunities for greater awareness and a peaceful way of living, which is of great service in the world.
Is It For Me?
Psychologist Gloria Sterling, PhD. describes her work in this way: “In working with Ms. Dantes, the only thing necessary is a heart that is open to a deeper understanding of one’s existence. You need not have had any prior exposure to any teachings. There are many embracing aspects of the work. One is her complete lack of expectation that one should do anything other than what is natural in one’s own unfolding of consciousness. She honors each individual creation, not looking for or wanting any agreement with her whatsoever. She asks only that you look. Her love knows no bounds and her clarity can be transformational.”
This process is also valuable for the person who has already experienced other ways, perhaps many other ways, of approaching spirituality and still wants to go deeper; and for the person going through spiritual transition, who is looking and discovering new meaning in life.
Unlike monastic practices based on dogma, this Lay Monastic Path practice provides a freedom which requires a certain degree of maturity. For those who already have a religious practice there is an opportunity for new awareness within their beliefs. Ms. Dantes’ patience and understanding regarding the challenges of deep spiritual work provide great encouragement to retreatants.
What Is Required?
- To be in good health (have a doctor’s letter) and be able to do physical mindful work maintaining the grounds, caring for the house or whatever is needed, and serving others while supporting a contemplative practice. Selfless service to others provides many great opportunities to experience and deeply understand one’s human way of functioning and true nature.
- To have a meditational spiritual practice.
- References (Please include letters of recommendation from prior teachers, if possible.)
What Is The Next Step?
If you are interested in this program, the next step is to please complete our application. Applicants for the Lay Monastic Paths Retreat are encouraged to come for a weekend retreat to be able to make a decision regarding a longer commitment. Spiritual work with Ms. Dantes is highly individualized and enrollment will be limited. If one chooses to participate in the program, he or she may start with a 30-day trial or arrange a longer retreat.
The location is Nipomo, California. Because we are small and maintain a contemplative atmosphere, we cannot accommodate people arriving unexpectedly to look around. The exact location and directions will be provided upon acceptance of the application.