In addition to the normal routines and business of the monastery, over the past seven years considerable energy has been directed towards envisioning, designing, contracting and planning to build a Dhamma Hall at Tisarana. With each passing month, now, these plans are coming closer to completion. And so, to honour this quickening pace, on August 15th the Tisarana community gathered to prepare the physical site – with chanting, with words of acknowledgement and appreciation.
The event enabled Luang Por Viradhammo and the assembled community to share blessings, as well as design plans, with a large group of supporters from the Ottawa region and beyond. It’s an understatement to say it was much needed, given that this was the first generous gathering of people we’ve had in over a year-and-a-half. So wonderful to see people taking in the atmosphere of the monastery, and friends being reunited again, in person!
The ceremony took place in Tisarana’s new event tent, set more or less in the middle of the eventual Hall. Things began with Tan Sirimedho outlining the history of this property and the surrounding region, then giving some specific idea about the design of the prospective Dhamma Hall. The Hall’s outlines had been neatly spray-painted on the grass.
Next, by means of a beautiful blessing written by David Newhouse of Trent University, Luang Por Viradhammo gave voice to the traditional value of our land to the Native Algonquin peoples.
The Native blessing Luang Por read:
We give thanks for this day, the rising of the sun and the light and life that it brings to this earth. We give thanks to all the life forms that live around us, that support us, nourish us and keep us safe. We give thanks for another day of life. We give thanks for another day of life. We give thanks for all of creation. We can still hear the original sound of the universe as it reverberates throughout all of creation. We give thanks for all the gifts we have been given.
We give thanks to the original inhabitants of this land and their teachings about the land and how to care for it. We give thanks to the spirits of the lands that we live on. We thank you for your sustenance and for your guidance and wisdom. Today we start a project that is dedicated to the wellbeing of all life. As the building takes shape, we ask that you welcome it and its spirits. We hope that the spirits of the building will find a valued place among you. We will endeavour to honour the land and the original inhabitants.
And now that the words that need to be said have been said, we can begin.
Tan Amarasiri eloquently introduced the symbolic significance of the blessings about to be chanted, grounding our present-day Canadian gathering in the ancient Indian context. A touching feature included offering rice cakes to the spirits (and later shared with the squirrels). Ajahn Pavaro chanted the traditional ‘Inviting the Devas’ to set off a round of blessing chants. The monastic chanting was aimed to bless the occasion and the intentions around the building itself. In addition, with many trees needing to be felled, the chanting invited the Devas and energetic beings inhabiting the selected trees to find new homes. More chanting accompanied the circumambulation of the site by the entire assembly.
With this concluded, and the ceremony was drawn to a close with reflections by Luang Por Viradhammo. Having previously overseen the building of a beautiful Dhamma Hall at Bodhinyanarama Monastery in N.Z., Luang Por called on his decades of experience to speak on the deep merit of participating in the creation of such a sacred space. To realize such a beautifully conceived means for people to gather in order to absorb and practise the Buddha’s noble teachings is truly marvelous!
Our day ended in delightful Asian fashion, with Luang Por sprinkling people with the water blessed by the chanting.
Below, are photos from the event itself, as well as of the dramatic tree clearing that took place in the following days.