Deer Park, Day Twenty-Five
(written on Tuesday February 4th)
I’ve not done much today other than rest. It has been wonderful! I decided to practice a day of silence today so I am wearing a pin that I made a couple of years ago, and brought with me, that says: I am practicing a day of silence. I decided, however, to make an exception in my silence in order to write. To me, writing is both like and not like remaining silent.
This morning I slept in and woke up around 6:00am! The latest I’ve slept since I’ve been here. I did some sitting meditation, had some tea, got dressed, and then decided to skip breakfast, on account of not being at all hungry, and return to bed. I fell asleep for almost another 2 hours. How splendid! I had nowhere to go and nothing to do and my body told me of its need to rest, so I did.
After I woke up I went for a short walk to the standing Buddha statue in the Oak Grove. I visited a hammock along the trail and enjoyed rocking back and forth beneath the trees. On the way back to my cabin I collected some peppercorns from one of the pepper trees alongside the parking lot to bring home.
I did some laundry, cleaned my cabin, and then went to eat lunch in the dining hall. And then, guess what? I went back to sleep again :)
Yesterday Llora had mentioned wanting to watch a dharma talk video in the tearoom today at 3:00 followed by sitting meditation at 4:30 and asked if any of the laywomen wanted to join her. So just a little bit ago I went to the tearoom to watch a video with our small group of lay friends. A video was put into the dvd player and started but after only a few minutes we could see a man through the window seeming as though he was looking for some guidance or direction. Llora went out to ask if he needed some help and we stopped the video to wait for her to come back. They stood just outside of the tearoom and we could hear everything the man was saying. It turned out that he had come to Deer Park in a happenstance sort of way and was being very drawn to staying at the monastery to practice. He did not know much about our tradition but was being called to meditate. As they continued to talk another lay friend went out with them and the remaining other lay friend in the tearoom with me decided to put on a different dvd. She started the second dvd but the man’s voice outside was quite loud (relatively speaking) and it was difficult to concentrate on the video. Unsure of when the man would be heading up to the brothers’ hamlet, as Llora had suggested if he was wanting to talk with someone about staying, I decided it was best for me to leave and return back to my cabin. If it had not been for my practice of silence today I don’t think I would’ve been so impacted by the man’s voice and I think I would’ve stayed.
What I’ve been noticing during my stay here is that when circumstances arise that normally I would be irritated by I find myself responding differently (a sign that you know the practice is working according to my dharma teacher back home :). I’m not caught by or carried away by things in which I don’t enjoy, like the loud voice of the man for instance. Instead of acting out of annoyance and frustration I can simply notice the feeling of discomfort and consciously choose to do something different. When I walked away from the tearoom I did not feel angry or upset, I felt light and free! In a nutshell I see the practice as the cultivation of responding to life rather than simply reacting to it. Moving from autopilot to conscious decision-making. We are not boats adrift on the sea of life merely moving in the direction the wind is blowing. While we don’t control the weather we do control the sails. Our journey is up to us.