2018 Deer Park Daily Musings
Written during a retreat I attended from January 5th-26th, 2018
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.
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
Wednesday, January 17th 2018
Early morning haiku:
Something is amiss
it matters not what it is
There was not much in the way of working meditation assignments to volunteer for today, so I find myself with some extra time in which to do my daily journaling. So here I am, typing by the light of day!
This morning, I woke up a bit dazed and confused, as the expression goes. Perhaps because I “slept in” and woke up a little later than usual: 3:50am. I felt as though I had had unsettling dreams in the night, but I did not recollect anything when I awoke. So, in the tearoom before sitting meditation, I practiced simply noticing the feelings of unease that had arisen, allowing them to be just as they were, without trying to change the feeling or figure it out or fix it.
For the second time today, I woke up from my nap just before 2:00pm feeling disjointed. I was thrown off when I discovered there was sunshine peaking through the curtains, before realizing I had been napping and it was still daytime. The dream I was having just before waking up involved my being in a 711, preparing to buy a large soft pretzel. But I was still left trying to figure out what to get and bring back to the monastery for Mike & Steve. I was comforted to know that even in my dreams I was being considerate of others :)
While waiting for breakfast this morning in the Dining Hall, I penned this in my journal:
He stumbles around. Not stopping when the sound of the bell calls, blundering over chairs and around doors and really anything he comes into contact with. He talks during Noble Silence and tries to catch the attention of anyone who will have him throughout the day. (And later, during outdoor walking meditation, he saw fit to pass me while we were moving through the oak grove in single file, and had been right on my heels prior to doing so.) Last night, I overheard him say: I’ll try anything, I’m desperate! And the other day, during dharma sharing, he said that he’s been hurt by many people – broken by them. (Side note: normally I would not repeat something offered in a dharma sharing, especially on a public platform such as this, however, I feel that since I’m not mentioning his name or details, and given that his story is the story of so many of us, I feel inclined to do so in this instance.)
And his situation is like that of so many of us who come to this practice – maybe especially to this practice, because the odds are good that this particular Buddhist-inspired path was not the first thing that popped up on our help-me-I’m-floundering-and-need-help GPS app. We’ve likely already tried a myriad of other things, to little or no avail.
The question remains: since no one path is for everyone, how do we know when to stick it out and when to move on to trying something else? Furthering muddying the waters is that with the proper attitude and outlook, with enough diligence and time, properly motivated, we can make any path be the right one for us.
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