Deer Park: Day 21

(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)

DSCN0573                                                                      Writing early morning letters

Day Twenty-One:
Friday February 5th, 2016


This morning I wrote a few things in my journal:

As another crisp evening
inhales its last full, luscious breaths,
in preparation for the sun’s return,
it wonders: At what moment do I cease to be?
to which the glimmering stars rumble
their deepest silence in reply

I come here to let go.
Let go of what? you may wonder, and wisely so.
For, if we are to let go we should know
what it is we’re letting go of and why.
I come here to let go of holding on too tightly –
to a sense of control, to my own preferences,
to my own way of doing things,
to my own understanding even of how things work.
And why is that important? I ask myself, and wisely so.
While I’m careful not to disregard the role my confidence affords me,
and my abilities to be decisive,
being able to loosen my grasp allows me
to create space enough to let new light in,
to ensure I don’t get too stuck in my ways.
I practice letting go so that I am able to build myself up
with both strength and ease,
making sure I’m not constructing in the wrong direction.

I’m savoring this last drop of stillness and silence
Knowing soon movement and sound will penetrate it
and yet…still hoping, ridiculously, for it to last

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Deer Park, Day 7

Deer Park Flowers

Deer Park Flowers

(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.)

Day 7

Friday January 16th, 2015


I just got back from dinner and then remembered I had a pair of pants still hanging on the clothesline that I had hung out to dry earlier today.  I went out to get them and found them missing.  It was an, “Oh no!” moment, as they were my layering pants that I wear underneath my main pants in order to stay warm.  My main pants are quite thin.  I came back to my hut prepared to start typing and then decided to go back out and see if I could talk with some friends about my missing pair of pants and see if anyone had them.  When I went back to the clothesline one of my roommates was there and she had a basket of clothes with my pants in it!  Hooray!   It is the simple things that stand out to me here.  Like when you have the chance to miss an article of clothing and notice how wonderful it is when it reappears!

Today we had morning sit, stick exercise, breakfast, and working meditation, where I volunteered to clean the bathrooms in our hamlet and outside the big hall.  I was also asked to fill back in the septic tank lids if I had time, as the pump truck had come today and emptied the tanks.  So I filled in the 6 holes over the lids after cleaning.  We had walking meditation after working and then I opted to skip lunch in order to get more rest and take a nap.

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Deer Park, Day Twenty-Five


Deer Park, Day Twenty-Five 

(written on Tuesday February 4th)


I’ve not done much today other than rest.  It has been wonderful!  I decided to practice a day of silence today so I am wearing a pin that I made a couple of years ago, and brought with me, that says: I am practicing a day of silence.  I decided, however, to make an exception in my silence in order to write.  To me, writing is both like and not like remaining silent.

This morning I slept in and woke up around 6:00am!  The latest I’ve slept since I’ve been here.  I did some sitting meditation, had some tea, got dressed, and then decided to skip breakfast, on account of not being at all hungry, and return to bed.  I fell asleep for almost another 2 hours.  How splendid!  I had nowhere to go and nothing to do and my body told me of its need to rest, so I did.

After I woke up I went for a short walk to the standing Buddha statue in the Oak Grove.  I visited a hammock along the trail and enjoyed rocking back and forth beneath the trees.  On the way back to my cabin I collected some peppercorns from one of the pepper trees alongside the parking lot to bring home.

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