Going forward, we will be unable to send out Zoom reminders before each individual public teaching event. All event and login details are posted on our public calendar. Please see the website calendar (at the bottom of www.tisarana.ca homepage) to see the teaching dates with the Zoom details, make sure to click on the event to see the details. Thank you for your patience and understanding.… Read the rest
Signs of spring are making themselves felt. The early birds have started arriving, showering us with
their multiple calls and exhibiting their mating dances. The sun now feels quite warm, even on days
where the air is cold. The snow is all gone; the coyote and deer are free to roam unconstrained by their
narrow trails. Hello, I am Richard. I have been a steward at Tisarana for the past two years. Luang por
Viradhammo has invited me to write a blog entry about the winter retreat.
Every year the community at Tisarana works hard to maintain and further establish the monastery,
doing so both on the grounds and in the offices. The winter retreat is thus set aside expressly to provide
an opportunity away from these duties in order to focus on meditation. The winter retreat is quite quiet
both in terms of routine and nature that surrounds us. The pace, with its daily work period, already
begins to slow down as the cold weather arrives. And so, very naturally the monastery settles into the
long wintery quietness of retreat, like the first dusting of snow gently falling to the ground. In order to
relieve the monastic community from their mundane duties yet keeping the monastery functional, a lay
retreat crew is invited to serve on the retreat.… Read the rest
Reflections on 2020
December at Tisarana. Each day we walk by the deer in their thickened fur – the does with their observant young, foraging on grass and congregating at the salt lick near our main buildings. The Canada geese have now flown South with their happy racket. Only a few hardy species of birdlife remain, like the chickadees with their pinprick eyes, darting between the low bushes to feeders we fill for the simple pleasure of seeing them thrive.
I’ve now been at Tisarana for half a year; it’s my first Canadian winter after living in Thailand for nine years. Each morning’s community meeting contains a brief weather update – seldom a pressing matter in S.E. Asia. Since returning my supply of clothing and footwear has tripled. Snow has come and gone… and come and gone, and come. Almost without noticing, my acquaintance has returned with the crackle of ice underfoot, the moods of a wood stove, and the uncanny compaction of sound in dense cold.
Yet for all the differences, living as a bhikkhu in this tradition ensures a fair continuity of purpose and practice, something that differing weather, and alterations of flora and fauna, do not disrupt.… Read the rest
Anumodanā from Luang Por Viradhammo, the sangha and residents of Tisarana for the Dana received on April 7th in Barrhaven. Such spontaneous generosity is inspiring and delightful to witness. Many thanks to Bee Sterling and Niranjala Weerakoon for taking the lead on this and much Anumodanā to all our friends who participated. Here are some pictures, a recorded message from Luang Por and the sangha chanting verses of appreciation. May all beings be well and happy.
Sukhassa dhātā medhāvi,
sukham so adhighaccati
The wise one, giving happily,
gets but happiness in return.
– Anguttara Nikāyā. V 37
We had a meeting yesterday to talk over points of the new Dhamma Hall construction contract. Here we are, all in the office. Gabriel took the picture using a fish-eye lens to get us all in the shot!
We’ve heard that at Wat Pah Nanachat they’ve cancelled the daily Pindabhat and, like Tisarana, have a small group of lay volunteers cooking for the community. There’s a vinaya rule against wearing the ‘wrong’ colors (blue, white, others) and so the Nanachat monks are wearing face masks made with robe-cloth covers.
Our discussion this morning centered on how best to carry out the Patimokkha, given that the instructions require the monks to be within about 18 inches of each other. The vinaya (rules for monks) also wisely contains several allowances for extraordinary circumstances (e.g. a time of illness, a time of dangers, and the like) which give us some maneuvering room to figure out how best to respond. In this case we’re planning to do the ceremony, but maintain the 6-foot rule.
It’s all part of the life… … Read the rest
Bee’s mum died on Monday. She was ill with cancer so Bee and Steve have been caring for her in this time of dying. Without belittling the loss, I would say she had a good death – a good death because she lived a good life. She was cared for and loved. She knew the meaning of presence. Her passing was timely.
We couldn’t go to the service, only Steve and Bee attended her body. But love’s ingenuity saw an easy way. Four bhikkhus sitting in a circle at Tisarana. Our beloved Ayyas sitting in front of the shrine at Satisaraniya. Steve, Bee and deceased Geetha in the funeral chapel. Three locations and three phones between us – on speaker mode. We chanted and chatted and spread good-will, love and human-caring between ourselves. Fare thee well Geetha…
I have been told to self-isolate by several people because I’m 73 but our small community is living in isolation already, that seems safe enough. We talk about the pandemic, sharing stories we have read asking each other about our respective families. I will at times put myself in the shoes of a doctor who has to make a decision about who to give and who not to give a ventilator, a solo mum with no work and little food or a political leader who has to make terribly complicated decisions which everyone will critique in hindsight.… Read the rest
Technically I’m still on Winter Retreat forest practice, but it’s getting pretty hard to ignore the signs of spring. The squirrels outside my kuti have been engaging in quite loud and sometimes shocking territorial combat. After meditating in the long stillness of the snowed-in weeks, with only the distant sound of coy-wolves howling, for me this is pretty exciting. Yesterday there was some sort of rodent-brawl that involved several of them; banging the door, running up and down the porch screens and squeaking with insane intensity.
I was a little afraid to go outside. It is not often I get intimidated by squirrels, but Spring is madness for them.
Along with all that commotion, one of our younger monastics, Vipassi, told me about a plan to build a tree-platform (gasp!) for outdoor practice in a little grove on the new land, and he wanted my advice about constructing it. Well, my mind took that up like a retriever takes a tennis ball, and would NOT let it go. I’ve been designing ‘tree brackets’ in mental space now for 2 days. Maybe it will calm down soon and I’ll get a few more days of peace and quiet before the work year starts up.… Read the rest