Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Saturday Morning, With Special Teaching by Henry

Janine and Scot frequently bring Henry, their son, with them to . Henry is about 18 months old now, so he loves to run around, pick stuff up, and make lots of sounds including his limited vocabulary. During the past few weeks, he has shown that he is pretty good with a moktak, and keeps the beat pretty good with the chanting, odds are he will be the first three year old moktak master at .

At the end of chanting and meditation on Saturdays, there is a reading from one of several books. On this particular Saturday, the reading was taken from Master Teacher Tony Somlai’s  book from Dragon Mountain Press.



Teaching peace to our children

and each other

is the purest form of love.

There are many ways to bring peace to the community – pick one.

Teaching peace has an infinite number of conduits. It can be in a classroom setting or at a picnic. It can appear in a scholarly journal or at a slam poetry contest. You can teach peace while cooking or cleaning the house. If your life is peace, every moment is an opportunity to teach peace. The generosity of teaching peace helps build a cultural norm that “peace” is not a naive or antisocial activity. If peace is to be sustainable and of service to the next generation, we need effective and gentle methods to educate each other.

Childlike: My goodness, we have become crusty and cynical as adults. We have been fighting wars for so long that we have forgotten what it is like to be a child. We have repressed the purity of that early love in our consciousness. Watch children over the next few days and see what they teach about peace. Also look closely at what adults are teaching them about peace.


As soon as Janine had finished the reading, Henry chimed in by saying “Peace…..Peace.” As far as any of us know, that is the first time that Henry has ever uttered those words. After he had said that, everyone in the Dharma room just busted up laughing. Henry’s timing was impeccable, and the joy he brought to the community is without value. An 18 month old child taught the community a thing or two about peace, joy, and love by just being a child, and connecting to the child in all of us.

In that one moment, Henry reminded all of us that teachings come in all shapes and sizes, and frequently unexpected. If you are not paying attention to the moment, the teaching is lost. I know that I have missed many an opportunity to learn in my lifetime. But never before has that realization been so clear, nor a teaching so powerful, as that of a child, just learning to walk and to speak, that teachings are all around us if we just pay attention.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Another Wonderful Garden Retreat

On Sunday another Garden Retreat at the came to a close. It started out with a brief Dharma talk on Friday night with the Guiding Teacher giving us the rules for this years Garden Retreat, basically, be present, help each other, get out of the ‘me, my, mine’ mind, and bring joy to all that you do. The Abbot followed up with basically, ‘Don’t be a dick, focus on the task at hand and help each other, it’s not about you.’

Saturday started at 7 am with bows, chanting, and some sitting, followed up by breakfast. For this retreat, I had my first pass as Assistant Kitchen Master, so I did get to learn a thing or two about cooking for a large group keeping special dietary requirements in mind. One of my highlights was getting to prepare Master Teacher Linda’s Olive Oil for her pasta. While the menu called for Pasta with Olive Oil, I just could not do that while the rest of us were eating a BBQ-chili pasta. So after breakfast, I got to go out to the herb garden and picked some herbs. They soaked in the oil until dinner time, so about six or seven hours in total. They imparted a wonderful, subtle flavor to the oil which the Master Teacher was quite pleased with.

So for Saturday and Sunday, many a weed was pulled, many a tree was trimmed, and many a new feature was added to the garden.




A new stupa was put in place.





A new rock garden was put in place.










Stones were put in the ground front and center.






Some paths were cleared and weeded.










And pretty much everything is in bloom.



Other additions include a new sitting area, a spiral cut topiary, and some additions to the trellis. A great deal of work was done in a fairly short amount of time.

In all, everyone enjoyed themselves. We got a lot done, without too many things left on the continuing projects list. Pretty soon we’ll get that table done for our elevated herb garden, and things will be looking really good there!