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Here at home we've been enjoying the Autumn Opening, a much more subdued experience than the preceding retreats. The excited energy of the summer is settling down and the brothers are enjoying just a little more time for drinking tea, napping, and hopefully practicing mindfulness. Then we had a little bump as four baby monks to be fell into our lap.
Meet Schuyler, Maximilian, Ryan, and Taylor, the first Plum Village aspirants to be trained in the United States. They have been living under the guidance of the Blue Cliff monastic community in New York State. I got to spend some time with them while they were here and was glad for it. There are only a few full-blooded, flag-waving Americans here in Upper Hamlet, so you can only imagine the patriotic adventures I pursued with my four new friends. They came for two weeks, just enough time to settle in and receive novice ordination from our teacher, then they were swept away by their mentor, Thay Phap Vu to enjoy the winter back home.
As they left, the rest of the Sangha was trickling in from the ten directions. There's always a lot of love around here in Upper Hamlet, but you can really feel it when brothers get back from an extended period away. We've been enjoying all kinds of smiles, hugs, and high-fives. Our brothers came back from India a little more tanned, those from the UK came back a little more Pale, everyone full of stories from their travels and gratitude to come home for a winter of practice and rest.
So that's just about where we're at. This morning we had the opening ceremony for the Winter Retreat, and we've dedicated ourselves to ninety days of mindfulness practice within the bounds of the monastery. Thay spoke beautifully about our collective intention to practice, and encouraged us to whole-heartedly enjoy our steps for this retreat. Whether we have the desire to speak with others, or to listen to an internal discourse, he suggested that we make good use of these opportunities to enjoy silence, and promised that practicing in such a way would bring fruits in other areas of our practice. I'm going to give it a shot!
We had a picnic lunch and a sunny afternoon of rest, and starting tomorrow Thay will launch into his teaching for this winter: Are We the Soulmates of the Buddha? He's inviting us to look into our practice and find out if we are practicing skillfully, as the Buddha intended. Stay tuned to our Facebook page, as we'll make any announcements about streaming the Dharma Talks online over there. (Troi Bieu Hien)
Last Updated (Thursday, 08 November 2012 07:58)