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Monthly Archives: February 2015

Deer Park, Day 11

The large outdoor bell

The large outdoor bell

(NOTES: Here is some lingo info that may be helpful in reading these posts.  Deer Park Monastery is in the tradition of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, who is often referred to as Thay.  The monks who reside at Deer Park are called Brothers and the nuns are called Sisters.  The sisters reside in Clarity Hamlet and the brothers reside in Solidity Hamlet, about a 5-10 minute walk apart.  The word hamlet comes from the french and means small village.  While they are not really villages they are self-containing communities.  The visitors who come to stay at the monastery, like myself and Mike, are often called lay friends.)

Day 11

Tuesday January 20th, 2015

6:00pm

Oftentimes as I’m going about my day and I encounter an especially wonderful moment I think to myself, “I hope I’ll remember to write about this later.”  The thing of it is, there are many small wonderful moments and I am unable to write about them all – what a delightful “problem” to have!

This morning after breakfast I walked up the steep fire road.  As I went uphill I found the sun just starting to pop up over the mountain.  It was so very beautiful, its rays extending out like arms reaching down to alight the hills below.  Where the fire road turns from pavement to dirt there is a leveling of ground before it begins to ascend further upwards.  At that level spot you can overlook the monastery to the north and east.  And when you turn around you can see the sprawling valley to the west, filled with people going about their daily lives in the surrounding cities.  Today when I turned around to face the city valley it was completely covered in fog.  Only the distant mountains by the ocean were visible.  I could not see one house or car or building.  I was up high enough that it was clear where I stood but down below it was misted over, as though the cities had vanished.  It was an amazing site that I wasn’t expecting to see.  Part of me wished I could’ve stayed longer to watch the valley reappear like a picture developing in a dark room.  But I could only stay a little while, as our working meditation meeting started at 8:45am.

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Posted by on February 4, 2015 in Deer Park Monastery, Travel

 

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Deer Park, Day 10

Deer Park sign at the end of the driveway

Deer Park sign at the end of the driveway

(NOTES: Here is some lingo info that may be helpful in reading these posts.  Deer Park Monastery is in the tradition of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, who is often referred to as Thay.  The monks who reside at Deer Park are called Brothers and the nuns are called Sisters.  The sisters reside in Clarity Hamlet and the brothers reside in Solidity Hamlet, about a 5-10 minute walk apart.  The word hamlet comes from the french and means small village.  While they are not really villages they are self-containing communities.  The visitors who come to stay at the monastery, like myself and Mike, are often called lay friends.)

 

Day 10

Monday January 19th, 2015

4:30pm

Today was lazy day, as is every Monday here.  A day without scheduled activities, with the exception of meals and an evening program after dinner.  Tonight’s program is a Happiness Meeting in our small hall with the sisters.  I remember attending one of these meetings last January when I was here and I really enjoyed it.  From what I remember we played a game and then everyone had the option to share a song, tell a story or talk about an experience that had brought them happiness.

This morning I woke up around 4:00am with back pain that would not allow for me to go back to sleep.  I had set my alarm for 4:30am so it was not that much earlier then I had planned on getting up anyway.  I went to the dining hall as usual but around 5:15am the dining hall suddenly became quite busy.  A few sisters came to work in the kitchen and one of the lay friends came to set up the breakfast table.  I was surprised to see everyone so early, especially on a lazy day!  I thought to myself, “Is it later then I think it is?”  I checked the clock and looked outside.  “Nope, it’s 5:15am and it’s still very dark outside.”  I’m still not sure why they were setting up for breakfast so early, since it would’ve still been another almost three hours until the meal would be served.  There was quite a bit of noise being generated and talking going on so I left the dining hall in search of more early morning silence.  I went to our meditation hall to do some sitting and found a sister in there as well with a candle lit in front of her and some tea.  I wasn’t sure I should go in but she smiled in welcome as I entered so I felt it was OK to set out a cushion and join her in the space (I didn’t want to intrude).  I practiced some sitting meditation for around 45 minutes, quite naturally matching the same time frame we sit for in the mornings when we all gather together in the big hall.

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Deer Park, Day 9

Stupa

Stupa

(NOTES: Here is some lingo info that may be helpful in reading these posts.  Deer Park Monastery is in the tradition of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, who is often referred to as Thay.  The monks who reside at Deer Park are called Brothers and the nuns are called Sisters.  The sisters reside in Clarity Hamlet and the brothers reside in Solidity Hamlet, about a 5-10 minute walk apart.  The word hamlet comes from the french and means small village.  While they are not really villages they are self-containing communities.  The visitors who come to stay at the monastery, like myself and Mike, are often called lay friends.)

Day 9

Sunday January 18th, 2015

6:00pm

I just finished a wonderful dinner of tofu, vegetables, and fried rice (which was a treat).  One of my favorite parts of being here is that I get to have tofu pretty much every day, and sometimes twice a day!  And the sisters and brothers make good tofu.  At the end of the food table, where we dish up our bowls and plates, was a plate of cheeze-it crackers (a rare treat).  I imagine they must’ve been donated to the sisters, as food and sweets often are, because the monastery is vegan and does not serve any food with dairy products in it.  I put a few crackers in my pocket and enjoyed them on the walk back to my room after I finished my meal, the saltiness an enjoyable taste on my tongue.

Meals are very delicious here and also simple.  The tastes vary but the ingredients stay very similar from day to day.  For breakfast we can choose from oatmeal with optional alternative milks (soy and almond), cereal, nuts, raisins, and cranberries, breads with jelly or peanut butter, and a selection of fruit.  This is our breakfast spread everyday.  Lunch and dinner vary each day and usually include a buffet of white and brown rice, cooked veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, greens to name a few regulars), a tofu dish, and a fresh green salad.  It is a great joy to be served so much good food everyday, lovingly prepared by the sisters and brothers.

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Deer Park, Day 8

strawbales

(NOTES: Here is some lingo info that may be helpful in reading these posts.  Deer Park Monastery is in the tradition of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, who is often referred to as Thay.  The monks who reside at Deer Park are called Brothers and the nuns are called Sisters.  The sisters reside in Clarity Hamlet and the brothers reside in Solidity Hamlet, about a 5-10 minute walk apart.  The word hamlet comes from the french and means small village.  While they are not really villages they are self-containing communities.  The visitors who come to stay at the monastery, like myself and Mike, are often called lay friends.)

Day 8

Saturday January 17th, 2015

5:00pm

Every morning I’ve been waking up a little bit earlier then the morning before.  Today I got up at 3:30am.  I could’ve gotten out of bed at 3:00am but I decided that was too early and told myself to stay in bed until 3:30.  I remember this happened last time I was here as well.  I encountered a stride and needed less and less sleep and also less and less food.

Today was our community work day where folks from the surrounding cities were invited to come and help with the straw bale construction as part of the new nunnery being built.  We were told that folks from green communities were also invited, those who were interested in learning to build eco friendly houses.  After sitting meditation, stick exercise, and breakfast our schedule had us meeting at the construction site at 9:00am.

This morning during our sitting meditation I could tell that we had many new friends that had arrived yesterday afternoon.  The hall was more active then usual with cushion movements, coughing, sniffing, shuffling around, and other small noises.  The big meditation hall is quite large in size but there is very little in it so every little adjustment can be heard.  I was noticing the ripple effect happen this morning.  One person would clear their throat and then another and another.  One noise opened the door to other noises.  Our collective energy can be felt in full force during our morning sitting practice.  We move and breathe as one body.

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