Thoughts. Experiences. Inspiration.

Symeon of Trier

November 2, 2015 0

I was doing a little bit of research this morning and read about Symeon of Trier. Granted Wikipedia is not an entirely scholarly source so the information can be a bit one-dimensional. But what I found interesting was that even within the Christian faith, there is a tradition of practitioners going into solitary retreat, blessed by their teachers. In Symeon’s case, he was sequestered by Poppo, Archbishop of Trier after a ceremony.

The tomb of Symeon of Trier

The tomb of Symeon of Trier

Just like Symeon experienced, Buddhist practitioners today often find not everyone around them understands why they are going into retreat but they know if their practice is successful, they will gain attainments. At the end of his life, people misunderstood Symeon and thought he was a sorcerer who caused a flood, so they attacked his retreat cell with stones. Still he persevered and after his death, many miracles were witnessed at his retreat cell and it became a pilgrimage site for those seeking blessings.

Just like Tibetan meditators in the tradition of Milarepa who ate only nettles, Symeon maintained a spartan diet. He even prayed upright with his arms outstretched so he would not lie down and fall asleep, just like how Tibetan meditators will sit upright in a meditation box (gamti). They never fall fast asleep in the gamti and other than dozing for short periods of time, except during these moments of drowsiness, they never break their meditations.

I also found parallels with guru devotion. Symeon’s abbot sent him on monastery business to see Richard II, Duke of Normandy but along the way, he experienced many hardships including being attacked by pirates. Despite these obstacles, he still persevered and never forgot nor disregarded his abbot’s instructions. Although it took him many years, he finally reached Duke Richard who unfortunately by then had passed away.

I found his story very interesting and if I have some time, I want to look more into it. I just wanted to share this with everyone here to show that truly spiritual people will experience the results of their practice if their motivation is sincere. Attainments really are without borders and labels.

Reflections and Teachings

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