Deer Park, Day 19

2017 Deer Park Daily Musings
Written during a retreat I attended from January 6th-27th (though was unable to post until the Internet became available once I returned home)

Background Info & Terminology: Deer Park Monastery is rooted in the mindfulness tradition of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and is situated in Escondido, CA, north of San Diego. Mike and I choose to voluntarily lodge separately when we go to Deer Park during the winter retreat, which affords us the best of both worlds: having our own retreat experiences and able to spend time together 2 or 3 days a week. Mike stays with the brothers in Solidity Hamlet and I stay with the sisters in Clarity Hamlet, which are a short 10-minute walk from each other but do operate quite independently.

Laypeople: Also called lay friends or laymen and laywomen; those of us who practice in this tradition 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.
Thay: Refers to Thich Nhat Hanh, meaning “teacher” in Vietnamese

ecakesMaking earth cakes for TET

Day 19:
Wednesday January 25th, 2017

7:06am

Yesterday was earth cake making day, in preparation for the Lunar New Year, which is this coming weekend. The making of earth and sky cakes is a Vietnamese tradition, involving the simple ingredients of rice and mug beans wrapped in banana leaves, which are cooked in large pots filled with water over an open fire. The whole community gathers together to create them. It’s a day of being joyfully together. The hamlets eat their meals together in “picnic style”, as it is phrased here, which means they are not held in silence. Songs and stories are shared around the fire. It is a time of social gathering and celebration. It takes the large pots of earth cakes about 8 hours to cook, so people often drift in and out. Since it meant I could spend the day with Mike I was very happy :) Even though I was also quite cold for much of the day, once again. I think the coldness is settling itself deeper and deeper into my bones, as each day I seem to grow a little more susceptible to its clutches. It’s a clear and open sky this morning. I’m hoping the sun’s warmth will not be stolen away by the chill of the air.

Haikus I wrote this morning:

Morning skies are clear
Stars shine near and far with ease
Darkness turns to light

Parched earth drinks anew
Rocks house waterfalls and streams
Green adorns my steps

____________

6:22pm

More haikus!

Life giving sunshine
Gratitude for your smile
Your warmth is my warmth

Tea cup in my hands
Filled to the brim with rain clouds
Always seeing more

_____________

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Deer Park: Day 15

(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)

earthcakes

Day Fifteen:
Saturday January 30th, 2016

3:10pm

It was clear skied early this morning, when the stars and waning moon still hung in the sky. Once the sun began to awaken, clouds and moisture drifted in overhead and have been with us all day, causing a chill to linger on the breeze. With the moon casting its gaze on my shoulders I could see my shadow reflected on the dirt steps as I walked up to the dharma hall for morning meditation. I was reassured by my shadow’s slow cadence as it climbed each step.

I did stick exercise by myself in the dirt parking lot after our sitting period. After breakfast I waited to speak with one particular Sister and managed to summon the energy to ask her for special permission to join back in with the Brother who leads the stick exercises each morning. While I can do them on my own and know the sequence I very much like joining in with the Brother and have been missing it. I had been wanting to ask her for days and was going back and forth about whether it was best for me to simply resign to the Clarity policy about not participating in the morning stick exercises or simply ask and see what happened. Ultimately I decided it was good practice for me to ask for what I wanted, knowing I would be able to relax in whatever outcome resulted. To my surprise she said it was OK to join in with the Brother, as long as I did not linger once they were over and returned back to Clarity right afterwards. I was expecting her to say no so I was over-joyed when I received a yes!

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Deer Park, Day Fifteen

Earth cake preparation

Earth cake preparation

Deer Park, Day Fifteen

(written on Saturday January 25th)

8:30pm.

I just returned from the brothers’ hamlet where large pots full of earth cakes cushioned atop bamboo leaves continue to cook over an open fire.  I would call today earth cake day here in Deer Park :)  For working meditation we had a few other tasks to attend to but mostly it was all hands on deck in the main dining hall to put together the earth cakes.  There was no outdoor walking meditation and what was scheduled in the afternoon in Solidity Hamlet was optional and very few people attended.  Many Vietnamese families came to help today so the monastery has been abuzz with energy.  Children were running and playing all day, and in fact are still full of steam around the fire as I type.  Throughout the day banana leaves were being dried and cut, rice and beans were blended and wrapped in the leaves, and the bundles were all tied neatly to keep them together.  It was a sea of activity in the main dining hall with leaf scraps and plastic ribbon covering the floor.

My friend Llora and another layfriend wrapping earth cakes

My friend Llora and another layfriend wrapping earth cakes

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