Deer Park, Day Eight
(written on Saturday January 18th)
Today was community work-day where lay friends will come to help with work projects around the monastery. After sitting meditation Brother Phap Dai led morning stick exercise, which let me off the hook of taking the lead. Then came breakfast followed by a community work meeting where job teams were arranged. I signed up for moving potted plants. We had two sisters and 5 of us lay friends. Our task was to move all of the many potted plants from around Thay’s dwelling to other places around Clarity Hamlet. Deer Park will soon be in the process of building a new nunnery in Clarity in order to accommodate more sisters, lay friends, and a new dwelling for Thay when he comes. As part of the reconstruction Thay’s current residence is going to be demolished next month, which is why we were clearing away plants. There was an array of plants to move and some of them were large enough to require 3 or 4 of us to load them into the truck. A few even required a hand-truck. The five of us spent three hours loading and unloading plants, which gives you a sense for how many wonderful plant friends we had to move!
We had lunch in the brother’s dining hall and then after our personal time we met in the big meditation hall to watch a dharma talk of Thay’s that he had given in the last 3 weeks or so. Here are a few notes I took that stood out to me:
The aim of practice is to not be entangled. The main ropes that tie us down are: anxiety, anger, jealousy, fear, and complexes (superiority, inferiority, and equality complexes). There is no dharma more important as freedom. We have to recognize what ties us down so that we can learn how to untie it, otherwise we might carry it with us our whole life.
We walk in such a way that every step is healing, every step is joy, every step is freedom. When our insight is bright we are able to let go.
When we eat we eat in such a way that we can experience freedom. If we eat with our worries, anger, or anxiety we are consuming them as well and it is bad for our health.
After the talk we had a lovely guided sitting meditation in our hamlet followed by dinner. It has been nice to both enjoy the time with just the sisters and laywomen here for meals and programs and also the time when both hamlets are together. It has been easy to go joyfully as a river here. Each new day brings a new schedule and I simply flow right along with whatever it brings.