As I’m writing this, I’m coming to the end of my (near) three-months’ stay at Tisarana. The time here has been idyllic, a very special occasion in this ongoing opportunity for simplicity, for discipline as a craft of the heart rather than blind conformity, and for meditation that is grounded rather than pie-in-the-sky. The elements that I appreciate in many monasteries of this lineage are all in place; brevity requires me to merely mention the fullness of the support from the lay people and their eagerness for Dhamma, apparent in those on site, but including those near and far who keep this place going. I hope I will never take this amazing heartfulness for granted. Also I only have space to make brief mention of the direct and down-to-earth warmth and helpfulness of all those in training here. It is gladdening to reflect that, as these virtues are manifesting in Canada as they are in Australia, Thailand, USA and Britain, they are universal and timeless. In the face of the corruptions and brutality that we read about in the news, we do need to remind ourselves of this beauty in others as in ourselves. Tisarana certainly provides an opportunity to witness and participate in that.
What has been most special for me has been the opportunity to spend time with Tan Ajahn Viradhammo. It’s not just that monks of such seniority and depth of hands-on-experience are rare, but that he is perhaps the Dhamma-friend who is most deeply embedded in my heart. I have known him for nearly 39 years (!) Admittedly for much of that time we have been living hundreds, or thousands, of miles apart, but as you will agree, what makes someone a Dhamma-friend is that they fit within you wherever you go. So once I had the free time, it was an obvious move to go and spend time in his presence. As you will probably imagine, his response has been warm, genuine, and direct. We had breakfast together every day, and shared news, notes on practice, concerns, memories and humour. And of course, much that is wordless.
I am someone who finds it easy to speak and write, so it’s strange that I’m rather at a loss to say more. But I think this is part of what is so genuine about Tisarana and Luang Por V. They speak for themselves, not just in the teachings that are freely given, but by offering us an occasion to be heard, and to listen deeply. In a world of clamour and rhetoric, that’s impressive – and precious. Long may it may continue!