International Retreat Centers (IRCs)
International Retreat Centers are special centers that offer facilities for those wishing to do both long-term and short-term retreats.
What is retreat?
‘On retreat we stop all forms of business and extraneous activities so as to emphasize a particular spiritual practice. There are three kinds of retreat: physical, verbal, and mental.
We engage in physical retreat when with a spiritual motivation we isolate ourself from other people, activities, and noise, and dis-engage from extraneous and meaningless actions; we engage in verbal retreat when with a spiritual motivation we refrain from meaningless talk and periodically keep silence; and we engage in mental retreat by preventing distractions and strong delusions such as attachment, anger, jealousy, and strong self-grasping from arising, and by maintaining mindfulness and conscientiousness.
If we remain in physical and verbal retreat but fail to observe mental retreat, our retreat will have little power. Such a retreat may be relaxing, but if we do not prevent strong delusions from arising, our mind will not be at peace, even on retreat. However, keeping physical and verbal retreat will help us to keep mental retreat, and for this reason Shantideva, in Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, praises the first two kinds of retreat.’