Life Ebbs Away

This is a transcription of a reflection given by Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni, on Friday 19th of September 2014, at Dhammaloka Buddhist Centre, the Buddhist Society of Western Australia.

Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samasambuddhasa
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samasambuddhasa
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samasambuddhasa
Buddham, Dhammam, Sangham Namasami.

Good evening everyone. I am Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni, a resident nun from Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage. Tonight, I am going to start with a poem:

WRITTEN AT YEAR’S END

The sequence of seasons naturally pushes forward,
Suddenly I am startled by the ending of the year.
Lifting my eyes I catch sight of the winter crows,
Calling mournfully as if wanting to complain.
The light of the sun is chill rather than gentle,
Spreading over the four corners like a cloud.
A cold wind blows fitfully in from the north,
Its sad whistling filling courtyards and houses.
Head raised, I gaze up toward the spring,
But the spring pays no attention to me at all.
Time is a galloping colt glimpsed through a crack,
Death’s knock on the door has its predestined time.
How could I not know, one who has left the world,
And become familiar with the floating clouds?
In my garden grow several trees of flowering plum
Whose sworn pact of friendship helps me get by.

 This beautiful poem was written by a nun called Venerable Jingnuo during 1600-1750 in China (late Ming and early Qing Dynasty)

She was the daughter of a county magistrate from Hangzhou. She entered the monastic life as a young girl and became the senior Dharma heir of the woman Chan master Weiji Xingzhi. Like her teacher, Venerable Jingnuo earned a reputation for compassionate but strict discipline and impeccable behaviour and attracted hundreds of followers.

I have especially chosen this poem for two reasons. First of all, I would like to demonstrate to all of us the existence of well-practised nuns in more recent times. She also wrote some poems about meditations and solitary practices in the book, ‘Daughters of Emptiness’.

The other reason that I have chosen this poem is to set the tone of the sharing of Dhamma tonight.

As the poem said: ‘Suddenly I am startled by the end of the year’; how many times we have said among ourselves that ‘It is the end of year again, Christmas is just around the corner!’ The days and nights come and go, ‘Time is a galloping colt glimpsed through a crack’, and life ebbs away without us noticing it. We went from a child, to a teenager, then to an adult, to become parent, grandparent, old, sick and dying. Time flew past us so quickly, as Venerable Jingnuo said in her poem, ‘Head raised, I gaze up toward the spring, but the spring pays no attention to me at all.’ Time does not stop for a moment for anyone of us, whether it is a happy and fun time or sad and difficult time.

Recently, I was reflecting a lot about life. “Time is a galloping colt glimpsed through a crack”, and life ebbs away without us noticing it. My 98 year old Grandma passed way three months ago. She lived at home and was well before she fell ill and went to hospital in an emergency situation. I went to the hospital in the early morning with Ayya Vayama and Jacky for her emergency surgery and we waited at the hospital until she came out of surgery. After that I was in the hospital with Grandma for the next twelve days while her condition went from stable to unstable and eventually she had multi organ failure and was referred to palliative care. It was there I offered Grandma support and love as a granddaughter as well as a nun. I was sitting next to Grandma by myself when she took her last breath. It had been a distressing time for me as a granddaughter but an insightful journey as a nun, a bhikkhuni. Life ebbed away in front of my own eyes and came to an end, a stop. The life of someone that I am close to and who had been there since I was born. The experience forced me to contemplate again and again about life and death.

As I mentioned earlier, I was at the hospital in the early morning supporting Grandma during her surgery. I met a young medical exchange student from Hong Kong that morning. She asked me which temple I came from. I told her my name, Ayya Seri, and I am from a hermitage in Jane Brook. She told me she had visited the nuns’ monastery in Gidgegannup last year and she was very excited about coming to Dhammaloka that week to Ajahn Brahm’s talk. I looked at Ayya Vayama sitting in the wheel chair next to me and smiled. I wished the young Buddhist well in her practice and we parted.

I am going to ask you, all of you in this hall, do you know the first Bhikkhuni Ordination in the Theravada Tradition took place in Australia at Bodhinyana Monastery in 2009? Do you know who were the bhikkhunis ordained at the ceremony?

Ayya Vayama was the founding abbot of Dhammasara Nuns Monastery. She resigned in 2010 due to ill health. Ayya Vayama and myself ordained in the first bhikkhuni ordination in the Theravada tradition in Australia on 22nd October 2009. The ordination sparked some controversy in the Buddhist world. Ayya Vayama earlier joked with me that when you are a feather duster rather than a rooster, for example, an  ex- prime minister and a retired abbot of monastery, people will not remember you. She also offered me the teaching: ‘It is pointless for us to hold on to the sense of me and mine, the special unique Self. In a few year time no one will remember what we have done.’ Ayya Vayama was right and the Buddha was right. In spite of it being an historical event surrounded by controversy, this young female Buddhist did not know of Ayya Vayama, the founding abbot, and she had never heard of me! Life really ebbs and flows.

Even with the Bhikkhuni Ordination in 2009, most people only focus on Ajahn Brahm. Because of Ajahn Brahm, the Bhikkhuni Ordination was possible. But not many people reflect on the effort the founding abbot, Ayya Vayama, had put into training the nuns and starting the monastery, laying down a firm foundation for the ordination. She was the only nun when the monastery started. Ayya Vayama lived on the land of the Monastery by herself in a caravan for two years before the first building was completed. This rains retreat is Ayya Vayama’s 30th rains retreat since she went forth in Sri Lanka. Not only Ayya Vayama, there were many female monastics and practitioners who put in lots of effort over the centuries. The Bhikkhuni Ordination in Australia at Bodhinyana Monastery in 2009 was the fruits of all these efforts.

I am going to share with you a story that is very popular in Hinduism, Jainism, in Indian and Chinese Buddhism. Some of you might remember the story from Ajahn Brahm. The story is called ‘The Man in The Well’. You can find the story in Avadana Sutra or The Parable Sutra in no. 217 of the Taisho edition of the Chinese Buddhist Canon.

Here is the story:

A man lost in a jungle is being chased by a mighty tusker elephant. Full of fear, he tries to escape and sees an old well with a large tree-root dangling into it. Desperately seeking a refuge, he quickly climbs down the tree-root into the well and hangs on to the tree root. As his eyes become accustomed to the darkness in the well, he sees a huge snake, a python, winding itself slowly towards him from the bottom of the well. Looking sideways, he sees that on each of the four sides of the well there is a poisonous viper threatening to bite him. Terrified, he looks up only to see that two mice – one white and one black – are chewing the tree root he is holding on to. Moreover, a forest fire is burning the tree. The roots will soon be chewed or burned through and he will fall down only to be strangled and crushed by the python. On another root above him there is a wild bees’ nest and the bees, angered by his presence, frequently sting him, making him flinch from the pain. At the height of despair, however, five droplets of honey drip onto his face from the hive. Greedily he licks them up, enjoying their sweetness, and entirely forgets his desperate situation.

The explanation of the story is as follows:

The jungle wilderness is samsara, the round of existences. The lost man is you and me. The great elephant is the destructive power of impermanence. The well is worldly existence, life. The climbing down the tree root is the vain hope and expectation with regard to life. The inevitable strangling and crushing by the huge snake is death. The four vipers are the four elements, full of danger. The two mice: night and day, sun and moon, which chew away life. The forest fire is sickness and old age that keep charring the tree of the body. The angry bees are changing circumstances. The stings are the constant stings of the ups and downs (the eight worldly winds) of life. The five honey drops: the five sense pleasure, which are longed for, loved, thrilling, connected with desire, charming. Licking is indulging in sense pleasures, and forgetting the precariousness of samsara.

This simile is great to demonstrate ‘Life ebbs away’, like the two white and black mice chewing away life. The Buddha has warned of the dangers of the pit of samsara and pointed out that there is an escape, Nibbana. However, most of us pay no attention and continue to indulge in sense pleasures and the distraction of sense pleasures that takes us away from the work we need to do to be free. It is not wrong to enjoy life. However, most of us take the enjoyment of life as the most important thing in life and forget ‘life ebbs away’. We might be lucky like Grandma who had been well most of her life but the forest fire of old age and sickness still overcame her.

Venerable Bhikkhuni Ambapali, in the time of the Buddha, was a beautiful courtesan. She wrote a moving poem comparing her former beautiful body to her old and aged body, reflecting on impermanence. She attained arahatship. The following is her poem:

My hair was black, like the colour of bees, with curly ends; because of old age it is like bark fibres of hemp; not false is the utterance of the speaker of truth.

Covered with flowers my head was fragrant like a perfumed box; now because of old age it smells like a dog’s fur; not false is the utterance of the speaker of truth.

Formerly my eyebrows looked beautiful, like crescents well-painted by artist; because of old age they droop down with wrinkles; not false is the utterance of the speaker of truth.

My eyes were shining, very brilliant like jewels, very black and long; overwhelmed by old age they do not look beautiful; not false is the utterance of the speaker of truth.

In the bloom of my youth my nose looked beautiful like a delicate peak; because of old age it is like a flower-spike of long pepper; not false is the utterance of the speaker of truth.

Formerly my hands looked beautiful, with delicate signet rings, decorated with gold; because of old age they are like onions and radishes; not false is the utterance of the speaker of truth.

Formerly my body looked beautiful, like a well-polished sheet of gold; now it is covered with very fine wrinkles; not false is the utterance of the speaker of truth.

Formerly my calves looked beautiful, possessing delicate anklets, decorated with gold; because of old age they are like sticks of sesame; not false is the utterance of the speaker of truth.

Such was this body; now it is decrepit, the abode of many pains; an old house, with its plaster fallen off; not false is the utterance of the speaker of truth.

Life ebbs away. We are not in control of this body, this life regardless who we are. Whether we are the beautiful courtesan, an enlightened arahat nun, even the Buddha, life will come to an end. There is a verse in Dhammapada in Chapter eleven- DECAY ( Jara-vagga) Verse 147:

Look at this beautiful image, with many plans – A diseased mass of sores that has no permanence.’

 We can have plans and dreams about our future. But we need to recognise and be aware that the plans and dreams can be changed at anytime because life is impermanent and unsatisfactory, suffering. Our circumstances are changeable and unpredictable like the bees in the simile earlier.

I was going through my Grandma’s belongings the other day, looking at some of the photos which were taken when I was in high school with my friends. We looked innocent, fearless, invincible, having the whole world at our feet, full of the pride of youth. Old age, sickness and death never entered our minds. Day by day, hour by hour, breath by breath, life ebbs away. I am no longer the invincible proud young one. Whether we live only one breath or 98 years like my Grandmother, time just flies past us. One of my cousins at my Grandma’s funeral said he wished he had visited Grandma more often, spent more time with his special Grandmother. We need to ask ourselves again and again, ‘What is important to us, what is our priority in our life?’ This is a question that has no right or wrong answer, but only we can answer ourselves. So that at the end of our life, or the life of our loved one, we have no regrets. One of the reflections that monastics do regularly as advised by the Buddha is: ‘The days and nights are relentlessly passing, how well am I spending my time?’ This is a reflection that all of us need to do again and again.

In the Samyutta Nikaya, The Connected Discourses of the Buddha, the Sutta, ‘The Simile of the Mountain’, the Buddha asked King Pasenadi of Kosala,: ‘If people from all four corners of your kingdoms came to tell the King that they saw a great mountain high as clouds coming this way, crushing all living beings, if such a great peril should arise, such a terrible destruction of human life occurs, what should be done?’”

The King replied, “If, venerable sir, such a great peril should arise, such a terrible destruction of human life, the human state being so difficult to obtain, what else should be done but to live by the Dhamma, to live righteously, and to do wholesome and meritorious deeds?”

“I inform you, great king, I announce to you, great king: aging and death are rolling in on you, great king, what should be done?”

“As aging and death are rolling in on me, venerable sir, what else should be done but to live by the Dhamma, to live righteously, and to do wholesome and meritorious deeds?”

The Sutta is a great reminder for all of us, especially the Buddhist practitioners, to live by the Dhamma, the teaching of the Buddha, to do kind, generous and wholesome actions is our priority.

I had been talking to Grandma about death and teaching her some chanting for at least the last ten years, but more often over the last four to five years, just the words of “ Namo tassa bhagavato arahato Samasambuddhasa”, “Homage to the Buddha” or “ Buddham Saranam Gachami”, “ Refuge in the Buddha” . I also repeatedly sat and did lovingkindness meditation in Cantonese with Grandma using words like ‘peace and ease’. Grandma even taught me how to say ‘peace and ease’ in Cantonese, ‘心定神怡’。 Each time when I visited Grandma or when I spoke to her over the phone, before I finished the visit or put down the phone, I would make a point to wish Grandma, ‘May you be at peace and at ease’. Grandma always happily replied, ‘Thank you’. All these were to enable Grandma to have a refuge in time of distress and difficulties. When Grandma was sick in the hospital three months ago, her body was struggling and she was in distress, she put her hands together and started to chant ‘Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samasambuddhasa.’ herself. When Grandma was very agitated, she calmed down when I chanted ‘Namo Tassa’ into her ear. When I reminded her to be “at peace and at ease” she was familiar with the term and understood what I was talking about. I talked to her about being a bird and being free. She could drop all the baggage of love, hate, likes and dislikes and fly into the big wide sky, following the Buddha and be free. I continuously repeated some of the wholesome actions that she had done in life into her ear again and again. I knew she found lots of comfort in that. When I was tired, I sat meditating next to her. I surrounded her with lovingkindness, peace and ease. I was sitting there, watching her breathing and reflecting that every breath we take is taking us closer to the end of our life.

My grandmother took her last breath with me sitting next to her surrounding her with all my love and good wishes. I conducted her funeral by myself as she requested earlier. It was an honour to have Grandma in my life, it was an honour to be with her in her last days of life.

I was at Grandma’s house sorting out her belongings the other day. When I left the house and closed the door behind me, I felt I was closing the door to a chapter of my life. I felt sad. I reflected on the closing of the door. That particular chapter of my life might be closed, might have come to an end with the death of Grandma. However, Grandma’s love, kindness, her happy face and smile, courage and strength and generous heart are with me, in my heart.

As life ebbs away, old age, sickness and death rolling in on us, what else should be done but to take refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, to draw the Dhamma close to our hearts, to live by the Dhamma, to do kind, generous and wholesome actions.

Now, I would like to share with you a recollection on death. I invite you to close your eyes and I will read out the recollection. Let the words sink into your heart.

 

RECOLLECTION ON DEATH

I sit before the Buddha and contemplate that He and all who knew Him are now dead. Since His great demise countless beings have come, bided their time and gone. The names and deeds of but a few are remembered. Their many pains, their joy, their victories and defeats, like themselves are now but shadows. And so it will be with all whom I know. Passing time will turn the calamities I worry about, the possibilities I fear and the pleasure I chase after into mere shadows. Therefore, I will contemplate the reality of my own death that I may understand what is true value in life.

Because death may soon come, I will repay all debts for all transgressions and be at odds with none.

Because death may soon come, I will squander no time brooding on past mistakes but use each day as if it were my last.

Because death may soon come, I will purify my mind rather than pamper the body.

Because death may soon come, and separation from those I love, I will develop detached compassion rather than possessiveness and clinging.

Because death may soon come, I will use each day fully, not wasting it on fruitless pursuits and vain longings.

May I be prepared when death finally comes.

May I be fearless as life ebbs away.

May my detachment help in the freeing of the heart.

 

I hope the sharing of this reflection tonight will be of benefit to all of us, may the teaching help us all in our quest for freedom and liberation.

I would like to dedicate the merit of the sharing of this reflection tonight to my Grandmother, Ah Ying Kok, who passed away three months ago on 15th of June. A generous and kind grandmother who touched my life with her unconditional love. May Grandma be at peace and at ease. May she be surrounded by people who love and support her in her next journey. May she have a favourable rebirth where she can practise and listen to the Buddha’s teachings for freedom, and liberation, Nibbana.

Thank you.

Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni, Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni and Grandma at the End of Rains Robe Offering Ceremony on 26th October 2013 at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage. Photo by Zor Hane

Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni, Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni and Grandma at the End of Rains Robe Offering Ceremony on 26th October 2013 at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage. Photo by Zor Hane

 

Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni, Grandma Ah Ying Kok and Mother Sau San Teh in April 2014

 

Grandma's memorial, November 2014. Photo by Destiny

Grandma’s memorial, November 2014. Photo by Destiny

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Meditation Day on 5th of July 2014

by Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni

The beautiful shrine in the sala of Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage on 5th of July 2014.

The beautiful shrine in the sala of Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage on 5th of July 2014.

On the 5th of July 2014, Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni conducted a Meditation Day to mark ten years since she went forth on 4th of July 2004. About 16 people participated on a beautiful sunny Saturday.

On the Meditation Day, we continued to investigate the theme from the Meditation Day in March, ‘Contemplation of Feeling’. Most of us identify ourselves with what we feel. We are ‘depressed’, ‘frustrated’, ‘bored’, ‘happy’ or ‘peaceful’. We moved during our meditation because we were uncomfortable. We constantly act on and react to our ‘feelings’, when in fact we can know them as simply either pleasant, unpleasant or neutral feelings. We do not have to judge them as good or bad, or right or wrong, they are just feelings. In fact labelling them as ‘depressed’, ‘bored’ or ‘happy’ is already going to the next level, namely sankhara. When we investigated the theme  ‘Contemplation of Feelings’ further, the investigation showed us we can be free from being a slave to our ‘feelings’. We especially focused on meditation with a couple of one hour guided meditations using the ‘Sweeping Technique’.  The meditation increases our awareness of the rising and passing away of all mental and physical feelings – the impermanent nature of all phenomenon. The feelings are not Me, not Mine and not a Self.

The following is a beautiful sutta from Samyutta Nikaya – The Connected Discourses of the Buddha. It is in Khandhasamyuatta, Connected Discourses on the Aggregates,
Sutta – 95: A Lump of Foam.

FEELINGS ARE LIKE BUBBLES
“Suppose, bhikkhus, that in the autumn, when it is raining and big rain drops are falling, a water bubble arises and bursts on the surface of the water. A man with good sight would inspect it, ponder it, and carefully investigate it, and it would appear to him to be void, hollow, insubstantial. For what substance could there be in a water bubble? So too, bhikkhus, whatever kind of feeling there is, whether past, future, or present, internal or external, gross or subtle, inferior or superior, far or near: a bhikkhu inspects it, ponders it, and carefully investigates it, and it would appear to him to be void, hollow, insubstantial. For what substance could there be in feeling?

At the end of the Meditation Day, Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni dedicated the merits of the Meditation Day’s teachings to her Grandmother, Ah Ying Kok, who passed away on 15th of June 2014. May Grandma be at peace and at ease. May she be surrounded by people who love, care and support her in her next journey. May she have a favourable rebirth where she can listen to and practise the Buddha’s teachings for the attainment of Nibbana.

Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni, Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni and the participants inside the sala of Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage on 5th of July 2014. Photo by Ming.

Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni, Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni and the participants inside the sala of Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage on 5th of July 2014. Photo by Ming.

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Vesak Meditation Day 2014

by Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni

Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni, Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni and the participants at the Vesak Meditation Day 2014 held at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage. Photo by Peace.

Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni, Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni and the participants at the Vesak Meditation Day 2014 held at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage. Photo by Peace.

Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage celebrated Vesak Day on Tuesday, 13th of May with a day of quiet contemplation and meditation.

The Volunteers on Saturday, 10th of May 2014, at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitag.e

The Volunteers on Saturday, 10th of May 2014, at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage.

Volunteers came to the Hermitage a few days before the Vesak Day celebration. We put up the Vesak lanterns, lights and the Buddhist flags. I loved the beautiful Vesak decorations that brightened the Hermitage like the Dhamma that lightened the darkness.

The preparations for Vesak Day also involved dusting and cleaning the Buddha statute in the Sala, polishing the shrine table, vacuuming and dusting the Sala. When I was feeling tired during the preparation, a few days before conducting the Vesak Meditation Day, I reminded myself I am offering a gift out of gratitude from my heart, to honour the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha on Vesak Day, the day Buddhists celebrate the birth, enlightenment and passing away – Mahaparinibbana of the Buddha. The reminder gave me lots of happiness.

We had a mild day that was very suitable for meditation on 13th of May. About sixteen participants came together to practise at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage and to  celebrate the Vesak Day with Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni and myself.

Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni and Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni with the beautiful Vesak lanterns and lights at on Vesak Day, 12th of May 2014, at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage. Photo by Ming.

Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni and Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni with the beautiful Vesak lanterns and lights at on Vesak Day, 12th of May 2014, at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage. Photo by Ming.

The theme of investigation for this Vesak Day was ‘Forgiveness’. I related ‘Forgiveness’ with the words: letting go,  to release, release from a burden, liberation and freedom. It was like the swans, gliding on and out of samsara as the beautiful verse in Dhammapada 91:

Alert to the needs of the journey,
those on the path of awareness,
like swans, glide on,
leaving behind their former resting places.

‘Forgiveness’ does not excuse or change the fact that unskilful and hurtful actions had been committed either by ourselves or by others. It does not change the kamma. We, and those we forgive, still have to bear the consequences of the unskilful actions, whether they are by body, speech or mind. Forgiveness practice is a gradual process that we willingly and intentionally undertake to release ourselves from the burden of hurts, pains, blames or negativities. Each time we undertake the work, we will loosen the grip on the negative states of mind little by little and have the courage to open our heart to love, compassion, happiness, peace and freedom. Like a bird flies through the wide open sky, without any burden and is free.

Vesak lanterns and lights at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage in May 2014.

Vesak lanterns and lights at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage in May 2014.

We also need to be aware that ‘Forgiveness’ alone is not enough. We need to make amends. We need to make an effort and determination to restrain ourselves and not to do the unskilful action again in the future.

THE PURIFICATION
(from Nava Puja) 
             

If, by body, speech or mind, I have carelessly done wrong, may I be forgiven, O Tathagata of great wisdom.

By acknowledging my transgressions, open and unconcealed before the Buddha most wise, may my mind be always pure.

If, by body, speech or mind, others have done me wrong, I forgive them everything now before the fully enlightened Buddha.

Through my readiness to forgive, may they be safe and free from sorrow and may my thoughts be filled with love and compassion.

If, by body, speech or mind, I have done others good, I gladly share my merit with all before the fully enlightened Buddha.

With a mind free from pride, I rejoice in my own good deeds, wishing that all beings everywhere may share in my happiness.

Happy Vesak!

Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni, Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni and the participants on Vesak Mediatation Day 12th of May 2014 at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage. Photo by Ming

Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni, Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni and the participants on Vesak Mediatation Day 12th of May 2014 at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage. Photo by Ming

 

 


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Jack in the Box

Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni, Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni and all the participants on the Meditation Day, 16th of March 2014, in the Sala of Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage. Photo by Manora Caldera.

Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni, Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni and all the participants on the Meditation Day, 16th of March 2014, in the Sala of Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage. Photo by Manora Caldera.

On Sunday, 16th of March 2014, about 19 lay supporters participated in a One Day Meditation Retreat to mark Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni’s 29th ordination anniversary.

The theme of the day was “Contemplation of Feeling”. “Contemplation of feeling” is one of the four foundations of mindfulness. It is a useful tool that we can use in our life. We investigated the Dhamma, the teaching of the Buddha. Until we can investigate, contemplate, hold the Dhamma close to our heart and put it into our practice, the Dhamma is only out there, a knowledge that we have acquired.

Feeling (vedana),  according to the Dhamma, is a bare basic sensation that registers as pleasant, unpleasant and neutral. It is one of the five aggregates and one of the links in the ‘Dependent Origination’, that is, ‘Contact conditions feeling, Feeling conditions craving.’ During the retreat, we practised being aware and mindful of the feeling, the pleasant, unpleasant and neutral feeling without going into the labelling, thinking and the story line.

'Jack in the Box' at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage.

‘Jack in the Box’ at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage.

The highlight of the retreat was when ‘Jack in the box’ popped up. ‘Jack’ was illustrating that the feeling pops up with contact. Due to our underlying tendencies and conditionings, the ‘Jack’ in us just pops up again and again without our invitation and permission.

There was a lovely story behind the ‘Jack in the box’ that was used at the retreat. The ‘Jack in the box’ originally belonged to Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni. Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni used to use the ‘Jack in the box’ in the weekend retreats that she conducted at Safety Bay. It was offered by one of the supporters after she heard Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni’s teacher, Ayya Khema, used to use ‘Jack in the box’ in her illustration at retreats. I felt honoured and delighted to be able to continue with the tradition at a retreat to celebrate my teacher’s ordination anniversary.

Congratulations to Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni on your ordination anniversary. May you attain Nibbana in this very life.

Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu.

by Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni

 

 

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Happy New Year 2014

By Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni

Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni and Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni at the Sala of Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage on 31st December 2013 after meditation.

Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni and Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni in the Sala of Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage on 31st December 2013 after meditation.

 On the 31st of December 2013 we had a small celebration at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage to welcome the Year 2014.

We started  with an afternoon tea together. After the sun set at 7.26pm, we  toasted each other with a glass of juice and lots of good wishes to welcome the New Year.

The formal celebration was held in the Sala of Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage. We lit the candles and incense and chanted the ‘Homage to the Triple Gem’ and asked for forgiveness from the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. After paying homage to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, we chanted  the ‘Metta Sutta’ – The Buddha’s Words on Lovingkindness – continuously, to send our good wishes to each other and to all beings everywhere. During the chanting of the ‘Metta Sutta’, each one of us took turns to light a floating candle and then put it into a bowl water. The lighting of the candle signifies our aspiration to follow in the footsteps of the Buddha, to practise for liberation and freedom. The light of the candle signifies our good wishes of peace, harmony and lovingkindness to ourselves and to all beings.

During the evening celebration, we especially light the ‘Light of ‘Harmony’- the aspiration of harmony in our heart. In order to achieve this beautiful harmony we need to put in the ‘Right Effort’ to practise the various skills and crafts of the Dhamma, such as harmlessness, lovingkindness, compassion, practice of right speech, not to take what is not given and not to take drugs and alcohol that disturb our mind, and meditation. These wholesome skills and crafts of the Dhamma enable us to create the different sounds and notes that give us the beautiful ‘Harmony in our Heart’.

We continued the evening with meditation and the sharing of merits with all beings. The celebration finished at 9pm.

Happy New Year to all of you from Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage.

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End of Rains Cloth Offering Ceremony 2013

by Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni

The beautiful shrine at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage on 26th October 2013. Photo by Zor.

The beautiful shrine at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage at the End of Rains Cloth Offering Ceremony on 26th October 2013. Photo by Zor.

On Saturday, 26th of October 2013, about 35 people, representing the community of Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage, came together for a ceremony that marks the End of the annual Rains Retreat for the monastics.

The End of Rains Retreat Cloth Offering Ceremony at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage on 26th October 2013. Photo by Zor

The End of Rains Retreat Cloth Offering Ceremony at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage on 26th October 2013. Photo by Zor

Every year, the monastics make the determination to stay and practise and study in one place during the three months of the Rains Retreat. Normally, this is a time for most of the lay devotees to have regular contact with and teachings from the monastics. Traditionally, after the Rains Retreat, before the monastics departed and went on their journeys, Buddhist lay devotees, out of gratitude and faith, made various offerings of requisites especially robe material.

The  monastic robe is regarded as the banner signifying the lineage of the Buddha. This is the robe that you can see the monks and nuns wearing now. This is a lineage of 2500 years of bhikkhus and bhikkhunis dating from the time of the Buddha. This is why the offering of robe material is an auspicious offering.

There are two types of ceremony after the end of the Rains Retreat. Kathina is a ceremony that is carried out when more than four bhikkhus or bhikkhunis have spent the Rains Retreat in one place. The End of the Rains Cloth Offering Ceremony is conducted when there are fewer than four bhikkhus or bhikkhunis who have successfully completed the three months of the Rains Retreat.  Two bhikkhunis, Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni and Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni ,completed their Rains Retreat at Patacara Bhikkhuni  Hermitage. Therefore, the ceremony celebrated at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage was the End of Rains Cloth Offering Ceremony.

Peggy Chan offering the robe material to the bhikkhunis at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage during the End of Rains Cloth Offering Ceremony 2013. Photo by Havindra.

Peggy Chan offering the robe material to the bhikkhunis at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage during the End of Rains Cloth Offering Ceremony 2013. Photo by Havindra.

This year Peggy Chan offered the End of the Rains Cloth to the bhikkhunis of Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage. We appreciate and treasure the offering of the robe material as this signifies the faith, confidence and devotion of the donor to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. 

The Buddha mentioned in the Numerical Discourses that there are five gifts given by a good person: they give a gift out of faith, they give a gift respectfully, they give a gift at the right time, they give a gift with a generous heart, they give a gift without putting down others. The results of the gift come back to the person by way of great wealth, happiness, beauty, health, respect and support at the right time.

Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni and Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni tying the Paritta string at the End of Rains Cloth Offering Ceremony at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage. Photo by Zor.

Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni and Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni tying the Paritta string at the End of Rains Cloth Offering Ceremony at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage. Photo by Zor.

May all of you here, all beings here, supporting the monastics, and enabling the lineage of the Buddha to continue to flourish, have good health, happiness and strength, may you continue to practise for the attainment of Nibbana.

 

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Confidence of a Spiritual Warrior

by Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni

This reflection was shared on 11th October 2013 at Dhammaloka Centre of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia.

Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambudhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambudhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambudhassa
Buddham, Dhammam, Sangham Namasami.

Good evening everyone. I am Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni. I am a resident bhikkhuni at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage.

Tonight, I would like to explore the topic of CONFIDENCE.

 I especially would like to investigate ‘CONFIDENCE’ from the aspect of a spiritual warrior practising on the path, the Eightfold Path.

This confidence is a feeling of security, a rock-solid inner conviction that we will be up to whatever may come in life. It leads to peace and ease, liberation and freedom.

Keeping the precepts, especially practising harmlessness and lovingkindness, practising mindfulness and meditation, and being honest and truthful, kind and gentle to ourselves, are very important in the cultivation of Confidence as a spiritual warrior.

To develop and cultivate this Confidence that can eventually lead us to our goal of liberation and freedom, we need to have confidence in the teacher, the Buddha, who can show us the way. We also need to be open to the fact that we have the ability to follow the instructions, to learn, to experiment and to train to gain the skills that we need to achieve the goal of liberation and freedom from suffering. This ability is like what the Buddha mentioned in the Lovingkindness Sutta, the quality of Sakko, able.

This is like learning how to swim. I remember when I started to learn swimming in school. Initially, I was frightened of the water. I was very frightened of even letting go of the side of the pool. The fear helped to protect me from danger, from being hurt, a great survival skill. But, the fear also stopped me from letting go of the side of the pool, to be able to swim. Whenever the teacher came to me and asked me to demonstrate the skill of treading water in the deep pool, I could only tread water for  probably one to two seconds and then quickly held on to the side of the pool again. This went on for a few weeks. Over the few weeks, I found out that no one actually drowned in the class. My teacher always put out a stick to rescue whoever was in trouble. She seemed capable of saving us from danger. Then, one day, when my turn came again to demonstrate the skill of treading water in the deep pool, I managed to gather enough courage to kick hard, away from the side of the pool and to start treading water. After a few seconds, it seemed like a long time to me, I started to lose control and went under the water. I started to panic. Then, I saw this stick come towards me and I managed to grab the stick that took me to safety-the side of the pool-again. I must admit, the stick only came after I had swallowed a few mouthfuls of water!

From then on, I had confidence with my ability to follow the instructions and perform the activity accordingly. I started to have confidence and trust towards the teacher and the fear of water disappeared. I let go of holding onto the side of the pool and followed whatever instructions the teacher gave me and I learned to swim. I even became a lifesaver later!

I am sure most of you have some similar experiences with learning how to swim, or how to ride a bike, or how to use the computer etc.

The cultivation of the Confidence on the Spiritual warrior path is similar to leaning how to swim. We have the intention to cultivate and practise in a way that brings us happiness and peace and leads us to liberation and freedom. We come to a Buddhist centre like Dhammaloka to listen to the Dhamma, the teachings, and to share in other people’s experiences.

In my case, I started to explore Buddhism in the late 1980’s. I do not come from a Buddhist background. Both my parents are atheists. My brother and sister are Christian. I formally declared myself as a Buddhist when I took the three refuges in a Mahayana temple in Taiwan in 1992 during a Buddhist pilgrimage. I went on pilgrimage upon the invitation of my friend and her mother after my graduation and training in pharmacy. Initially, I was reluctant to take the three refuges because I was not sure at that time, that I could sincerely take refuge in the Sangha. The lay teacher who was with me gave me a very good simile and advice. She said that practising as a Buddhist is like planting a tree. You need water, sunlight and fertiliser, like the three refuges. If you only provide water and sun light and do not provide the fertiliser, because you are not sure the tree requires fertiliser, then the tree would not be able to grow. You do need to have the confidence and trust initially, to try it out, to experiment in the use of these three ingredients for the tree of liberation and freedom to grow in the heart. However, we also need to have the confidence and trust that if, the experiment does not work out, we have the wisdom and courage to let the experiment go and continue our search. At that time, I was inspired by the pilgrimage and I took the three refuges.

My journey in the cultivation of confidence on the Spiritual warrior path, the Eightfold path, started some 21 years ago. Now, I am sitting here sharing with you about my journey.  It has been an amazing journey!

I learned about meditation soon after I took the refuges at a Buddhist Centre in Singapore, as I was working there at that time. I also attended a few of the one day meditation retreats at the centre. My first weekend meditation retreat was at Safety Bay in 1999 taught by Ajahn Vayama. I tried to practise very hard at the retreat. After the retreat, I went to my normal aerobic class the next day. I was only beginning to attend the classes. I was quite unco-ordinated. Normally, when everyone lifted their right hand, I was the only one with my left hand up. When everyone moved to the left side of the room, I would be the one who moved to the right. It was funny and yet embarrassing. The aerobic class that I went to after the retreat was the first time I could follow the instructions and moved in the same direction with everyone in the class! At that time, I realised that this meditation must be good to train my concentration and clarity of mind! My Confidence in the practice started to grow!

There was another incident that showed me that the practice of the Eightfold path is beneficial to my life. One Sunday evening, I was held up in the pharmacy while I was on duty as a pharmacist with another pharmacist assistant. After the hold up, I had to call the police, contact the pharmacy owner and be interviewed by the police, so I went home late that night. Unfortunately, my family was away on holiday and I was home alone. I was aware that I was stressed by the incident. I did not know what to do as it was late and I did not want to disturb or alarm my family or friends. I made a very good decision that night. I sat down, crossed my legs, closed my eyes and meditated before I went to bed. I slept through the night and went back to the pharmacy to work the next morning. When I reflected later, the one thing that I did that made the difference was meditation. It helped me to deal with the stress of the hold-up. I still needed to work with some of the other side effects of the stress caused by the hold-up, such as I jumped when someone ran towards me quickly, and I did not go for my regular morning walks for a few weeks, because of fear of meeting the robbers as I lived very close to the pharmacy. The confidence in the practice of the Eightfold path grew deeper after that.

 I went on my first pilgrimage to India in 2001 with Ajahn Vayama and a few other Sangha. I met Ajahn Vayama personally for the first time during this pilgrimage. During the journey we had a packed lunch on the bus. After dana, the tour leader kindly organised to give away the left-over dana to the villagers. Ajahn Vayama took some of her left-over lunch and went down from the bus when we had a stopover. I was curious and volunteered to be the chaperone and followed Ajahn Vayama. I saw that Ajahn Vayama went to the dogs on the street and put down the left-over food for them. I was standing there feeling in awe of Ajahn‘s gesture of kindness and metta. Most of all, I was touched by her connectedness to the beings, to all beings. She was not frightened, but friendly even to the dogs in India. There is not enough food for all the people in India that we met, let alone much consideration for the dogs. And the dogs are not cute “pixie-mop” types of dogs. This connectedness and openness of the heart left a very strong impression on me.

I later went to the monastery to study and train with Ajahn Vayama. I had no hesitation to take Ajahn Vayama as my teacher.

One of the ways to strengthen our confidence in the practice of a spiritual warrior on the Eightfold path is to keep the precepts. We need some guidelines and boundaries in our mental, verbal and bodily expression for our well-being and happiness. For example, harmlessness.  I remembered when I first went to the monastery to be a trainee, an anagarikaa. Ajahn Vayama took the anagarikaas for a walk around the monastery so that we could familiarise ourselves with the environment, especially the bush. Ajahn Vayama was very familiar with the land of the monastery. We were walking along the firebreak next to the horse stud, Barabadeen, and I was enchanted by the beauty and freshness of the bush. Suddenly, I heard Ajahn Vayama say: “Stop!” I stopped and looked puzzled. She asked me whether I knew what I was just about to step on. I lived in the cities and in the suburbs all my life. I knew nothing about the bush!  I only managed to say: “No”. Then Ajahn asked me to look closely. I saw a few black ants crawling out of the mound in the middle of the firebreak.  I realised it was an ant mound, the ant house. The realisation brought up this softness and tenderness to my heart. This bush and space does not belong only to me, to us. We share the space and land with countless beings. It allowed me to be in touch with the feeling of harmlessness and connectedness with other beings, whether they are human beings or something that I am frightened of, the biting ants! All beings, regardless of their religion, regardless of their cultural background, whether they are biting ants or spiders that we fear, or cute kangaroos and echidnas that we like, have the wish to live in safety and happiness and, like me, fear being hurt and harmed. It was a very good lesson that I learned that day. From then on, harmlessness is no longer an ideal outside. It became a quality that I hold tenderly in the heart. That is the confidence that I have, confidence in the precepts, confidence in harmlessness.

I found monastic training to be an excellent ground for the cultivation of confidence in the spiritual warrior path. I remembered when we were working on drains and banks in the monastery, to minimise water erosion. Ajahn Vayama is a very good leader and abbot. Whenever we worked, she was always there to work with us. She always worked very hard.  The work period was not just work. Ajahn Vayama always reminded us it was a great opportunity to make good merit. For me, it was also a great opportunity to learn, especially to learn Dhamma from the teacher. In this instance, whenever we picked up any rocks to be used for our drains or embankments, Ajahn always advised us to ask permission from the rock before we moved it away from its spot. We were also encouraged to check whether there were any beings living underneath the rock. If there were, we were encouraged to return the rock to where it belonged, so that we did not intentionally destroy or disturb their dwellings. These trainings are great to build harmlessness in our heart, and trigger this gentleness and lovingkindness. When I reflect on the training now, it also trained our mindfulness, paying attention to what we are doing when we are doing it. We also practise mindfulness and awareness by not just trying to finish the job as quickly as possible but to do it with our whole heart and be fully present. The training also taught me deeply about ‘not to take what is not given’, even the land, the rocks, the beautiful wildflowers that we wish to keep in our kutis or bring home. To me, that is the building of confidence, the confidence on the spiritual warrior path.

I am very grateful that I have the opportunity to practise and train under the guidance of very competent teachers, especially in monastic life. I take my training seriously and sincerely. I entered the monastic life in 2002 and ordained as a ten precept nun in 2004. Later in 2009, I received my full ordination as a bhikkhuni. It was six years after I entered monastic training before my first visit to my family in Malaysia in 2008. I thought I needed to have a firm foundation in monastic training and have the confidence of a nun, before I met up with my family members. Most of my family members are not Buddhist.

During my first visit to Malaysia and my only visit so far, my brother offered to take me and the family to a Japanese restaurant to have a family dinner. He said he could arrange and organise a private room, so that no one would see me eating in the afternoon and no one would know that I am eating in the afternoon. I laughed and said to him: ‘The earth knows, the universe knows, you know and most importantly, I know.’ We can trick and cheat the whole world around us, but we know, deep inside us, our heart knows what we are doing. This inner knowing, integrity, and clarity are important in the cultivation of the Confidence of a spiritual warrior. This integrity and honesty also gives us peace and ease and respect for ourselves. I found for myself that this is important if I want to take the teaching and practice all the way to the attainment of Nibbana.

I put in a lot of effort in keeping the precepts and in following the training of a spiritual warrior, especially the monastic training. The effort gave me great strength and awareness and freedom from remorse and inner conflict. The effort also trained me in confidence, the confidence of a spiritual warrior, the confidence of a nun, a bhikkhuni.

Recently, I had a few discussions with my friends from other Buddhist traditions especially on some of the precepts that I hold, such as: ‘Not handling money’, ‘Not driving’ and ‘Not eating after 12 noon’. I told my friends that keeping these precepts does not mean I am better or I am right. I voluntarily and willingly ordained as a bhikkhuni in a tradition that keeps the precepts in this particular way. I am trained by my teachers in this regard. The lay supporters expect me to keep the precepts in this way. I am confident that the training can lead me to liberation and freedom. I respect my friends who are trained and practise in another way that leads them to liberation and freedom. I am comfortable and at ease with that.

In the monastery, when I was training as a nun, during every Rains Retreat, -except for senior nuns over ten rains,- we were required to write no letters, make no phone calls and to have minimum social contact. This gave us the maximum opportunity to restrain our senses and to concentrate on meditation practice. Ajahn Vayama also suggested to us to undertake a special practice every rains retreat. This is a practice that I still undertake today. She would suggest practices such as metta meditation for the rains retreat, learning some specific chanting, or giving up eating our favourite food or sweets to train in restraining our senses and to challenge our habitual patterns. We would discuss our practices with Ajahn Vayama during our regular interviews, about twice a month. One year, I chose sitter’s practice. I read about the practice in Venerable Tenzin Palmo’s book, ‘Cave in the Snow’, and a Buddhist Text called Visudhimagga. Sitter’s practice is one of the Dhutanga, or ascetic practices. It basically means not lying down, in order to cultivate wakefulness and to challenge laziness. These practices are not compulsory, but are done for a specific length of time or purpose. At that time, I was young, bold and stubborn and I needed to cultivate wakefulness. In my mind, if others could do it, I could do it too! When I went to a regular interview with Ajahn Vayama and told her of my plan, she was silent. She was very skilful in dealing with a young, strong-headed and enthusiastic student. She seemed to know that it was not useful to discourage me but asked me the reasons why I wanted to do sitter’s practice.  I told her I was experimenting to see what the Dhutanga practices would add to my understanding of the path for me and whether it would deepen my meditation practice. She suggested I make a determination not to discuss the practice with others except the teacher. This is a way to make sure that I wanted to do the practice to challenge my habitual patterns but not to show off to anyone else! I spent three months of the rains retreat not lying down and fell asleep in some weird and uncomfortable sitting postures. And, no, I did not get enlightened, and I had much suffering and had a bad back as result! I learned that strong-will does not get me very far in meditation! I also learned from my teacher, that practice and cultivation is for the confidence in our heart, for our own happiness, peace and liberation. We do not practise to show that we are better or special.  

There is a difference between the confidence of a spiritual warrior and confidence in the secular world. In the secular world, we build confidence from the approval from outside, from other people, from material gains, from getting the highest paid job. For example, in order to be a number one tennis player, you need to win tournament upon tournament. The confidence of a spiritual warrior does not build on “ego”, “me”, or “I am better”, and it does not depend on wearing badges of success and seeking validation from others. It definitely does not depend on whether your AFL football club win the grand final. This Confidence of the spiritual warrior is free from being disturbed by the eight worldly winds of praise and blame, gain and loss, honour and dishonour, happiness and misery. The confidence of a spiritual warrior is not shaken by worldly circumstance. It is one of the highest blessings, as it says in the Maha Mangala Sutta.

From the experience of the practice, I found that even though I have plenty of determination, I also needed much gentleness and kindness to myself and in my practice. After that sitter’s practice, Ajahn Vayama suggested I spent three months practising metta as my main object of meditation during the following rains retreat.

 I found gentleness and kindness to ourselves are very important qualities to practise in the cultivation of the confidence of a spiritual warrior. Do you remember how you talked to yourself during the meditation earlier? Did you say to yourself: “I can’t do this!”, “I am hopeless”, “Stop thinking!” or “Shut up”? Or did you just gently bring your awareness back to your meditation object, when you started thinking. Being aware and mindful of how we talk to ourselves in the quiet moments, allows us to be aware of our state of mind at that moment, whether, sad, angry, or at peace and at ease.  

The aim of meditation is not just to stop thinking, and become peaceful and calm and happy. When the meditation becomes peaceful and calm we enjoy it. When the meditation is full of restlessness and agitation, we practise gentleness and kindness towards it! Meditation can give us this opportunity to cultivate the confidence of being kind and gentle to ourselves in whatever happens in meditation itself, as well as in our life off the cushion. This cultivation can bring us the confidence to face whatever arises in our life, even if we are not feeling peaceful and joyful because of what we are facing.

I love the formal entry into the rains ceremony for the monastic. The ceremony starts with a forgiveness ceremony, and then taking dependence on the teacher, who is Ayya Vayama in my case. We then take turns to make the determination in front of the Buddha of the main shrine, to stay and practise in the Hermitage for the coming three months. When I bowed down, I reflected that the same ceremony and determination had been made during the Buddha’s time all the way until today for over 2500 years.  This includes all the countless monks and nuns in the lineage of the Buddha. I felt very inspired and connected with the lineage of the Buddha; the feeling of being honoured to be walking the same path as all well-practised Sangha. It gave me the confidence, strength and courage to continue with the practice to see for myself the footprint of the Buddha.

Death is certain for all of us, none of us can escape death. But the time of death is uncertain. The cultivation of the confidence of a spiritual warrior not only leads us to happiness, peace and ease here and now. It also leads us to liberation and freedom. This is a simile by Buddha: A tree has been slanting, sloping and inclining towards the east. If the tree was cut down at its root, the tree would fall in whatever direction it was slanting, sloping and inclining. If we cultivate the confidence of a spiritual warrior that leads us to happiness, peace and ease in our life, we will slant, slope and incline towards happiness, peace and ease, here and now, and at the time of our death. Especially, if we continue to cultivate the path, it can lead us to firm confidence in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.

My Confidence in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha continued to grow from the day I first took the three refuges. I am willing to push myself away from the side of the pool to tread water in the deeper pool. Whether the heart is peaceful and calm or full of agitation and restlessness, I continue to tread the water, following the instructions of the Buddha. Sometimes, I do a good job but sometimes it is difficult and it is a mess. But, I continue the cultivation on the spiritual warrior path.

This is my 10th rains since I went forth in this hall as a nun. I have shared with you whatever confidence I have been cultivating on the spiritual warrior path, the Eightfold path. I wish you to continue to cultivate the confidence of the spiritual warrior. May the sharing of this reflection tonight be of benefit to us all and may the merit of sharing of tonight’s teaching help us in the practice for liberation and freedom,  for Nibbana. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

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