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Deer Park: Day 25

(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)

Tet

Day Twenty-Five:
Tuesday February 9th, 2016

4:26pm

For one day a year, during Tet, the monastics invite visitors into their rooms. Yesterday it was the Brothers who opened their doors and today it is the Sisters turn. As I type, in the waning afternoon sun streaming through the oak trees, I can hear voices and laughter spiraling down from the Sisters residence. At 2:00pm there was drumming and a dragon dance, along with the loud cracks of the traditional lighting of hung strands of fireworks, marking the opening of the room visits. I went up and joined the small crowd and followed along as the dragon gave us a tour of the new nunnery residence. It was lovely to see the building up close, as lay people are generally not allowed up in that area and I had not yet seen it in all of its finished glory. As part of the new nunnery residence there’s also a new separate residence for Thay and his assistant. There are signs posted with information about the new building, which I recall from our time spent here last January when Mike and I were able to help during a couple of community working meditation days on the construction project. The new nunnery consists of 8 bedrooms, slated to house up to 5 Sisters per room, along with two bathrooms, with multiple toilet and shower stalls, and a couple of storage areas.

The first January I came here in 2014 my retreat stay included the celebration of Tet as well, unbeknownst to me at the time. When it was the Brothers room visitation day I didn’t feel inclined to enter, especially as a youngish female person. It’s important to me to be respectful of the monks and nuns and going to visit the Brothers just didn’t feel like the right thing to do. I felt the same way this time around as well and as such did not visit with any of the Brothers yesterday. I could see that if Mike were still here I might feel more comfortable visiting with him but to go on my own didn’t feel proper. I did visit with the Sisters last time though, although I’m feeling torn about doing so today. The room visits go until dinner and then continue afterwards until 9:30pm. I find it interesting that they end so late.

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Posted by on February 28, 2016 in Deer Park Monastery

 

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Deer Park: Day 9

(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)

DSCN0946                                                                                     Full Moon Deck

Day Nine:
Sunday January 24th, 2016

8:14pm

I just returned to my hut from watching the full moon rise over the mountains. Mike and I watched it together on the aptly named Full Moon Deck, which sits below the large stupa near Solidity Hamlet. I had asked, and received, permission to eat dinner with Mike in Solidity and after we were finished we took a stroll to watch the glorious show. It was so incredibly lovely to both watch the moon slowly ascend into the sky and sit with Mike wrapped up together. It was a cherished time and ripples in my heart.

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Posted by on February 20, 2016 in Deer Park Monastery

 

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Deer Park: Day Seven

(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)

DSCN0501

Day Seven:
Friday January 22nd, 2016

3:47pm

This morning our little hut was washed in bright moonlight. On my way to the dining hall for tea, around 4:00am, it walked beside me and peeked through the thick boughs of oak trees for one last greeting. By the time I began walking up to the big meditation hall for sitting, around 5:15am, the moon had set over the mountains and everything that had been alighted was plunged into darkness. In my journal this morning I wrote this:

There’s nothing that can be said about the moon that hasn’t already been said,
 it is the muse of many artists and creators, yet…
words pitch and heave on the waves of my heart

Its elegant beauty invokes a wisdom deep within,
cradling our afflictions,
amplifying our intentions to be healed and cared for

Another one of my favorite things about being here is the walk up to the big meditation hall in the early morning. I take the steep, dirt steps that lead up by the large outdoor temple bell, situated right beside the hall. There are 91 steps in total. In the morning someone sounds the temple bell continuously from 5:00-5:30am while singing and chanting, so as I climb higher the bell and the singing voice grow louder. It is the loveliest feeling to be invigorated by the steep climb, the cool morning air, and the deep resounding call of the bell. And while I’m sure it’s just my imagination, the universe does seem to bend inwards just a little bit around the bell tower, as though it were leaning in to listen. At the top of the steps distant city lights sparkle in a sliver of space in between the swell of mountains. I like to send my morning greetings on the breeze and hope that it makes its way to the sweet people below. And sometimes the writer in me likes to try to pinpoint the name of the color that permeates the sky at that early hour, as a mix of city lights melt into the dark skies over the monastery. I haven’t really come up with anything suitable as of yet to call it.

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Posted by on February 19, 2016 in Deer Park Monastery

 

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Deer Park: Day Six

(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)

big hall                                                                                       Big Meditation Hall

Day Six:
Thursday January 21st, 2016

6:00pm

I’m feeling quite tired so I may not write for very long tonight. Crawling into the warmth of my sleeping bag amid the comfort of my mattress sounds quite appealing. How wonderful it is to rest and sleep. I often tell people that one of my favorite parts about being on retreat is taking naps. And it’s true too! Having the time, spaciousness, inspiration, and encouragement to nap seems a great luxury. Although, I find myself often thinking that this thing or that thing here is my favorite – how wonderful it is to have so many favorite things to do! Waking up early and having tea and writing is my favorite. Listening to my music and dancing in the parking lot or up the fire road is my favorite. Stick exercise with Brother Phap Day is my favorite. Seeing Mike is my favorite. Eating tofu everyday is my favorite. Hearing the coyotes and listening to the ravens is my favorite. The oak trees are my favorite, the cacti are my favorite, the yucca are my favorite. Flowing along with the practice is my favorite. Greeting the sun every morning is my favorite. Greeting the moon and stars at night is my favorite. The list goes on.

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Posted by on February 19, 2016 in Deer Park Monastery

 

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