Yesterday my stepson Jaden and I went to visit the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, MT on our way up north to spend the day in Polson on the Flathead Lake. So, I thought I’d share some pics from the garden. It’s such a lovely spot. And the mixture of colors yesterday, from the white dusting of snow, greening valley fields, and gray-blue skies, were just wonderful.
(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.)
Thursday January 15th, 2015
Every Sunday and Thursday are open days of mindfulness here at Deer Park so today was another day of mindfulness. Not nearly as many people attend as on a Sunday since it is a weekday but still there were around maybe 25 people or so that came. After morning sitting practice and stick exercise the brothers and lay friends from Solidity Hamlet joined us in our hamlet for breakfast. At 9:00am the day of mindfulness started and we met in the big hall to watch a video of Thay giving a dharma talk from the 21-day retreat in Plum Village last June. Before I include some notes I took from that talk let me include some notes I took at the Venerable’s class last night:
Red Rocks, Montana
Today I ventured out for a solo adventure and ended up at Red Rocks, up the Johnsrud Park Road off of highway 200. Along the way I checked out day use spots along the Blackfoot River, meandered around different rocky beaches, and took my time checking out new pockets of beauty.
Today I went on an impromptu solo excursion to Redsun Labyrinth. Located about 40 miles from town in the Bitterroot Mountains the labyrinth sits on private land and is simply beautiful. It is easy to find and lovingly maintained. Luckily there are easy to follow signs guiding and welcoming you along the way to the labyrinth because with it inhabiting private land it’s a bit counterintuitive to simply park in a stranger’s driveway and walk in through their front gate past their house and over their lawn (which is what you have to do). The fact that the labyrinth is open to the public, sits on privately owned land, and simply operates on general trust and donations is pretty spectacular.
Hiawatha Bike Trail
If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere. ~ Vincent Van Gogh
Last night I went to a concert at a local bar downtown. Xavier Rudd, an Australian multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, came to town. He played to a sold-out crowd of mostly 20-something-year-olds with his well known shoeless feet, laid-back surfer-esque nonchalance, and positive juju. Just to look at him he seemed to fit right in to our alternative friendly, progressive mountain town.
After the opening act finished his set and we were standing shoulder to shoulder on the dance floor up against the stage waiting for Xavier to come on I took some time to look around the crowd and absorb the scene with a lens of mindfulness. As I panned the bar all I saw were beautiful people. Each individually unique face, body type, style of dress, and flashing mannerism were simply beautiful. To clarify, I’m not talking about visually striking, classically beautiful, physically unflawed, perfectly symmetrical people. I’m speaking in a broader sense (or if you happen to understand buddhist terminology I’m speaking in terms of the ultimate dimension). Beauty is an inherent quality we all possess, like goodness. When our minds and hearts are open to it we can practice to see beauty in every precious moment we are afforded.
Glacier National Park in Montana, June 28th, 2014
This past weekend my husband and I went up to Glacier National Park, which is about a 4 hour drive north of town for us. Some friends were getting married on Saturday in the park so we went up on Friday and spent two nights camping on Lake McDonald inside of Glacier.
It rained most of the weekend, which is unusual for Montana. Due to seasonal weather conditions and slowed plowing efforts the whole road (Going-to-the-Sun Road) which runs through the park has not yet been opened. Last year the road was opened on June 21st. Currently you can traverse about 15 miles into the park from West Glacier and about 14 miles from the St. Mary’s entrance on the east side. But the middle section, over the pass, is still closed. While it was unfortunate to not be able to travel the whole road and bear witness to the amazing expansive mountainous views of Logan Pass there is so much to see and appreciate in the park. Being sectioned off to only part of Glacier was in no way a hardship. Beauty abounds in Glacier – it’s everywhere you turn!