Deer Park: Day 11

21 Feb

(Helpful Info & Terminology: This is part of a series of blog posts written during my recent retreat stay at Deer Park Monastery, located in southern California, in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. Due to not having had Internet access I will be posting two days worth of my writing each day from while I was there on retreat.

Laypeople: Also called lay friends or laymen and laywomen, are all of us who come here to practice but are not monks or nuns.
Monastics: The collective group of both monks and nuns.
Clarity Hamlet: Where the nuns, also called Sisters, reside. Laywomen stay here as well.
Solidity Hamlet: Where the monks, also called Brothers, reside. Laymen and couples/families stay here as well. (Clarity and Solidity are just a short 10-15 minute walk in distance from each other).
Thay: Refers to Thich Nhat Hanh, meaning teacher in Vietnamese)


Day Eleven:
Tuesday January 26th, 2016


This afternoon the laywomen gathered to watch a dharma talk video given by Thay on June 15th, 2014 during the 21-day retreat in Plum Village, France. It was 2 hours long and we were able to finish all but the last 10-15 minutes of it. The first hour in particular I thought was very good. Here are some notes I took:

Everybody needs help, even the Buddha. The Buddha only has two ears to listen to the suffering of the world, two arms and two hands to help others. We can become his ears, his hands, his arms to help him. There has been a question about whether or not we should teach mindfulness to corporate businesses or the military. Is mindfulness for everyone, or only certain people? The question then is do we understand what mindfulness is? What is the difference between right mindfulness and wrong mindfulness?

Right mindfulness is based on right view and right view is the view of non-discrimination. We you have right view then what you think is right thinking, what you do is right action, what you say is right speech. Mindfulness is a way, it belongs to the path – if you take it out of the path it is not mindfulness. Right mindfulness can never be harmful – with right view you can never do wrong.

1. Mindfulness is not a tool or instrument but a path
2. Mindfulness is not a means to get an end
3. Mindfulness inter-is with right view…(and the 8-fold path)

Because the military suffers means they need help to suffer less. How to breathe, walk, recognize the beauty of nature, to see the wonders of life, this is true happiness. If you are a good instructor you should not be afraid to teach mindfulness (to any corporation or military branch).

This morning my roommate began talking with me about her frustration and confusion in regards to the Clarity policies and how disappointed she was to hear about our not being allowed to practice stick exercise with Brother Phap Dai. I shared with her how I too was disappointed, but mostly I just listened. It got me thinking about whether I would like to stay in Clarity when we come back next January or if perhaps I would like to try staying in Solidity with Mike. This evening during our sitting meditation period I started making a pros and cons list in my head – constructive use of my cushion time eh!? I’m hoping it isn’t disrespectful to the Sisters and Brothers to be sharing my views on this. Here’s what I came up with (my blog wouldn’t let me copy and paste my table so I printed it out and took a picture instead):



Some things to think about for next year. It’s interesting to ponder whether the restrictiveness here in Clarity is something I want to continue practicing with in order to learn better of how to go with the flow or if it’s something that I have little interest in working with in terms of how to better adapt to a system I feel is not operating well within our tradition. I suspect, of course, both things are true for me to some degree. I think it comes down to what the Sister was sharing in her dharma talk this past Sunday about how we should be clear about our choices and what we want. I remember her saying: If you want to go shopping because you’re depressed that’s fine, just know why you’re going shopping. Be clear about why you’re doing what you’re doing.

So, when it comes time for deciding about where to stay next January I just hope that I can be clear about my intentions for my own practice and get in touch with the motivations behind whatever choice I make. And so the journey continues.


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Posted by on February 21, 2016 in Deer Park Monastery


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