We are pleased to announce that there will be a Ten Precepts Retreat offered this coming year at one of our temples. This retreat is a wonderful opportunity for those who would like to learn more about the Precepts, those who would like to make a deeper commitment by formally taking the Precepts and becoming a Lay Buddhist, as well as those who would like to come again to the meditation and ceremonies of this particular retreat. Please see the North Cascades Priory News in the news section of this newsletter for more information.
Earlier this fall I spent a few days at our temple's hermitage at the Washington coast. I was fortunate to have lovely, sunny autumn days. I took advantage of the fine weather to get in some bike rides.
This was just the second time in many years that I had been to our hermitage without being accompanied by at least one dog. Both of the dogs that I usually take to the hermitage had died in the previous year. Three people who I love very much had also died in the same period of time, two of them very recently. So as I pedaled the mostly-empty back roads, my heart was full of a rich mixture of grief, loneliness and love.
During one of these rides, I happened to look at a small tree and the thought came into my mind, “If I did not exist, would this tree still exist?”
I cannot describe what happened next except to say that intuitions and thoughts that had been simmering within me throughout a year in which I have been immersed in the pain, difficulty and loving tenderness of training with beings who are struggling with terminal illness and the process of dying, and then the seeming gulf of separation that opens up at the time of death itself—these intuitions and thoughts somehow distilled in a moment into clear recognition.
Recognition of what?—There is one Flow within which the tree and I live our seemingly separate lives. We are all together within this one Flow.
From one point of view It is this one Flow; from another point of view It is Love. This person who loves is born and one day dies; this being who is loved is born and one day dies: Love Itself is. That which is Real within the person who loves and the being who is loved is Love Itself, and Love Itself is not born and does not die.
This is what my master taught; this is what I have taught. Yet there is part of me that has been very slow to comprehend this truth. I need to keep re-discovering it in different ways. Everything that has happened during this past year has been helping me.
Who can comprehend a Compassion that manifests in every event, every form of existence, every seemingly accidental relationship? We do not have to understand It: we can always bow to It.
We have scheduled the week of April 9 (Monday) to April 15 (Sunday), 2018 for our temple’s first “Keeping of the Ten Precepts Retreat” (Jukai). While we encourage participants in the retreat to come for the entire week, we also understand that work and family responsibilities can make it difficult to get away for a week. We are therefore scheduling Wednesday, April 11 as a “later arrival” day. The traditional ceremonies of the week will not begin until Thursday, April 12. We welcome both those who have formally taken the Precepts in the past and those who would like to do so for the first time.
Rev. Bennet travelled to North Cascades Buddhist Priory for the semiannual monks' Searching of the Heart retreat. He was grateful for the experience after a busy summer and fall buying the temple building, moving and settling in. He expresses his gratitude to Jeff and Mary of the meditation group for looking after the temple and its cranky cats while he was away.