QUOTE: It was a good experience insofar as it went. But I became increasingly struck by how myself and my fellow retreatants placed one concern above all others: ourselves. We were there to attend to our own wellbeing. The practice was presented as a kind of self-administered therapy for the soul. There was an occasional ‘metta’ meditation, to develop an attitude of loving-kindness towards others. But the task was basically to observe yourself, and that set up a dynamic with which I grew increasingly uncomfortable – one of self-absorption and self-obsession.
It was very different from a Christian retreat. Long periods of silence will feature then too. But whereas a Buddhist retreat is focused on yourself, a Christian retreat is focused on the pursuit of God. Much to my surprise, I ended the hours in the mediation hall with a powerful sense that a focus on the divine might actually be more healthy. But then the obvious thought struck: how is that possible for the contemporary agnostic who has genuine concerns about whether such theism is true?