Day 4

Bell Tower in Upper Hamlet

(written on June 4th, 2012)

Another sunny day.  I slept through the night for the first time since leaving Montana and awoke at 5:32am.  My morning meditations have been very easy and today was no exception.  We sit for 30 minutes.  My body has felt at ease and when the bell sounds to end the sitting time I feel a little sad it’s over.  Usually early morning sitting meditation is very difficult for me.

After breakfast I washed some clothes.  Before arriving I wasn’t looking forward to hand washing my clothes but I found it a wonderful practice: filling up the plastic tub in the Cherry Barn with warm water and soap, connecting with the fabrics, scrubbing, rinsing, wringing, hanging to dry.  I thought about all of the people in the world who hand wash their clothes on a daily basis in the river.  I then readied myself to take the shuttle to upper hamlet for the dharma talk checking for my umbrella, notebook, camera, water bottle and mirror.

Thay’s dharma talk was incredibly long and very intellectual ending with a Q & A between the scientist from yesterday and Thay.  It went on for 3 1/2-4 hours.  The hall in upper hamlet is smaller than lower hamlet’s hall and some people have to sit in chairs outside next to speakers since not everyone fits indoors – it’s also more difficult to avoid the din of the jibber jabbering of translators.  It is quite lovely in upper hamlet, the grounds more spacious than in lower hamlet and there are lotus flowers in bloom on the small pond behind the hall.  The talk overloaded my brain and my body.  Intellectual buddhism does not hold my interest nearly as much as practical information but Mike loves it – we are a good pairing!

The following are some notes I took from Thay’s talk on June 4th:

“The mind is overloaded with fear and anger.  Meditation means to have the time to look deeply.  Knowledge is an obstacle to our mind, we need to know how to release it.  The second obstacle is afflictions.  We have to let go of one step to climb to the next step of a ladder.

Lightening the mind – touching the good seeds (within us).  We organize our life in such a way not to water the negative seeds that awaken negative mental formations and help them to grow.  Concentrate the mind, liberate the mind, calm down, look deeply and concentrate.

Contemplate impermanence.  We often understand on an intellectual level but we still act as though everything is permanent.  Produce not a notion but an insight.  

To get angry at your loved one, to escalate and make them suffer is stupid (laughter).  Close you eyes and picture them 300 years from now.  

Many of us suffer deeply running after objects of craving.  Like a fish, if they knew there was a hook in the bait it would not bite.  

We have afflictions because of our views of the world, birth and death, being and non-being.  We believe reality is separate from the mind but it cannot be.”

I skipped dinner and the evening program.  Exhaustion has found me.  Tomorrow is what is called a lazy day, no program or schedule to follow.  Last night after the evening program an ice cream truck, having finished with a party someplace they were called out for, decided to come by lower hamlet and offer us free gelato.  Having already eaten some wonderful french cookies I decided to pass, later regretting my decision to try french gelato.  Things become more exciting somehow when the word french is put in front of them – french countryside, french pastry, french skies, french cookies.  I don’t think it works that way with most other places, especially america.  American hillsides, american cuisine (blech), american sunrise.  Nope, doesn’t work at all.

Dharma Hall, Upper Hamlet


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