Practicing still ripening…in the Circle Garden; in the small meditation hall of Solidity Hamlet; outside the Solidity dining hall, under the Pepper tree; outside the Clarity dining hall.
In July 2010, when I formally declared my aspirancy, one of the intentions that I set was to practice regularly with the Still Ripening Sangha at Deer Park Monastery. Making this commitment to myself, the path, and the SRS community was to be an immensely important part of my preparation for ordination.
Each third Sunday of the month, I would make the early morning, two hour drive from my home in Northeastern Los Angeles. What at first I perceived to be a necessary sacrifice in order to spend the day at Deer Park soon became just another wonderful part of my day. Driving in the early morning darkness, watching the sunrise while heading east, spending the time with my breathing and the few other souls on the highway, I was able to ease myself into the day. Continue reading “Still Ripening Sangha”
This is about this very moment. This wonderful moment. Have you noticed? We are nearing the solstice: the 21st, to be precise. The shortest day of the year, and the longest night.
Typically, it’s a time of clarity and community, introspection and renewal. ‘Tis the season. Time to celebrate the light in darkness. As the Quakers remind us, “Where shalt thou seek the light if thou dost not turn within?” As the year turns, we turn with it. Such fact of life is so elemental, we often need reminding.
Facing this year’s solstice, it’s interesting to note that while so many people are still preparing their festivities, Buddhists around the planet have already observed their winter holy day. Two and a half millennia ago, a human being woke up. What is awakening but opening our eyes? Eyes open, as we were born with our eyes open. So here too light is key: seeing things as they truly are. Just because our eyes are open doesn’t mean we’re awake, truly intimate with our lives, engaged in a genuine life, with all its authentic wonder, living life to the fullest. Continue reading “Happy Bodhi Day”
A warm welcome to all newly ordained members of the core community of the Order of Interbeing. It has been a great joy in these past months to witness the transmission ceremonies whether through online discussions or in-person across the US and Canada. The presence of Thay, our beloved teacher, the Sangha, both lay and monastic together, and all our ancestors are deeply felt.
When let in and put to practice the transmission of the fourteen trainings waters many seeds of happiness, peace, and freedom. Every time the brown jacket, the half robe of the Order is worn the true colors of the heart shines through. With the touch and weight of the fabric against the skin the support of many generations who have diligently and wholeheartedly worked to bring the teachings out into the world fills us once again. This, our OI family, can be a continual source of inspiration, friendship, and communion. May we continue to practice with all our heart and to find the true refuge of Sangha within and around us.
In June 2010, Thay gave a dharma talk (audio linkandtranscript link) at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism talking of the Order of Interbeing. I felt deeply inspired by the talk and hope others may find it nourishing as well. The talk is 108-minutes and was given Vietnamese, though you can clearly hear Thay’s voice, and is translated into English by Sister Chân Duc (Annabel).
Transcript of Thich Nhat Hanh’s talk to the OI members at Deer Park on February 5, 2004
This week many OI members chose to be here for the winter retreat and it’s been a great joy to be together with other OI members at this retreat. We just wanted to come and, if you were available, sit with you. If you have something you’d like to say to Order members, we’d love to hear it. If OI members have something to say, they can. If not, it will be a good time where we can sit and smile to each other.
TNH: I was thinking of the Tiep Hien Order without a leader. It is like a bee hive without a leader. This is possible. There is no elder. We do not need an elder in order to give orders. We can operate like the neurons in the brain or the ants in the ant hill. It is perfectly possible, provided we have a very good network of communication. If we have good communication, that is enough. The bees they have their way to communicate. The ants also. We have many more facilities. If communication is there, then any group of brothers or sisters can start a project. And everyone will observe them and everyone will come and help, just like the termites the termites: when they see something going on, they are excited, they communicate more, they come, and they help build the colonies. This is possible. It is a very exciting kind of perspective. In the past we elected a leadership, but I dont think that we need it. We need something like a coordinating committee in order to get the information to flow, back and forth. And anyone in the order profits from the wisdom of everyone. And everyone can learn from the mistake of everyone. Therefore, anything can be helpful.
There is a lot of Dharma talk in the air and there is a lot of air in the Dharma talk.
Today is 22 August 2001 in Deer Park Monastery.
There is a sutra with the title Yasoja – that’s the name of a monk, the Sangha leader. This sutra, Udanakarmad is found in the collection called Udana, Inspired Sayings.
Yasoja was a Sangha leader of a community of monks, about 500. One day he led the 500 monks to the place where the Buddha lived, hoping that they could join the three-month retreat with the Buddha. It was about ten days before the retreat began and they arrived very joyfully, thinking that they would see the Buddha and the other monks. There were lots of greetings, lots of talking and from his hut the Buddha heard the loud noise. He asked Ananda, “What is that noise? It sounds like fishermen landing a catch of fish.” Ananda said that the Venerable Yasoja had come with 500 monks and they were greeting and talking with the resident monks, which was why there was such a great noise.
One of the most common practices in our community is dharma sharing or dharma discussion. This is an opportunity to explore our practice together in a group. There are many models for facilitating dharma sharing and here are some guidelines.
The first time I tasted peanut butter cookies, I was at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in California, and I loved them! I learned that to make peanut butter cookies, you mix the ingredients to prepare the batter, and then you put each cookie onto a cookie sheet using a spoon. I imagined that the moment each cookie leaves the bowl of dough and is placed on the tray it begins to think of itself as separate. You, the creator of the cookies, know better, and you have a lot of compassion for them. You know that they are originally all one, and that even now, the happiness of each cookie is still the happiness of all the other cookies. But they have developed “discriminate perception”, and suddenly they set up barriers between themselves. When you put them in the oven, they begin to talk to each other:
“Get of my way.”
“I want to be in the middle.”
“I am brown and beautiful and you are ugly!”
“Can’t you please spread a little in that direction?”
We have the tendency to behave this way also, and it causes a lot of suffering. If we know how to touch our non-discriminating mind, our happiness and the happiness of others will increase manifold.