If your intention is not clear, if you aren’t really weary of samsara, then going on retreat is just another game. Even if you stayed for your whole life, you would just be wasting time and you would not learn anything. Many animals spend their lives in caves or in the ground like groundhogs, just eating and shitting without practicing Dharma. The Buddha said that people who go on retreat without first understanding real Dharma have the solitude of a demon’s hook. The same is true for those who understand Dharma but have no intention of benefiting sentient beings, just wanting to go from samsara’s suffering to samsara’s vacation. When people who have spent time in solitude without understanding come out of retreat, only hair, beards, and fingernails are longer; otherwise, everything is the same. When they come out, they have more ego than before and they boast about their accomplishments with saintly pride or siddha arrogance.
Thinley Norbu Rinpoche
from the book Gypsy Gossip and Other Advice
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