Dear Sangha, dear sisters and brothers,
I have been missing the opportunity to go to Nhap Luu to sit, walk, and work with the sisters over the last few months as I know many of you have. I know they are enjoying their winter retreat and taking the opportunity to do self-study and they are practicing diligently. They look forward to opening their doors to the lay community as soon as it is safe to do so.
These times of CoVid 19 have been difficult for many of us but especially challenging for our Melbourne Sangha brothers and sisters.
This is a good time to have our own personal retreat as much as we can. It is not easy to stay present and mindful when we have so much uncertainty, anxiety, and maybe even fear arising.
No matter what is going on for us we can remember that we have conditions of happiness and we can water these seeds each day.
One of the practices I use each day is walking meditation. We can do it anywhere and anytime. Even walking to our car or in our yard we can enjoy each step. We simply walk in freedom, aware of each step and our breath. I like to enjoy the Gatha “I have arrived, I am home” with my walking. I feel my connection to the earth and let my worries and thoughts of the future go, just enjoying each step and each breath.
The beautiful Gathas of our tradition help us to stay in the present moment. I start my day with the beautiful Gatha
“Waking up this morning I smile,
Twenty-four brand new hours are before me.
I vow to live fully in each moment
and to see all being with eyes of love and compassion.”
This Gatha sets up my intention for the whole day. There are many Gatha’s we can use during the day to bring our attention back to what we are doing so we can enjoy each moment of the day. When we enjoy our cup of tea we can breathe and say the Gatha
‘This cup of tea in my two hands, Mindfulness held perfectly,
My mind and body dwell in the very here and now.’
It is cold here but I have been practicing gratitude for the beauty around me. The quince and plum trees are budding and the daffodils are smiling in my garden. This has brought me a lot of joy.
Although we cannot get together with our sangha’s in person we can use zoom to be connected.
During this time of COVID 19, I have had the good fortune to join the Compassionate Ocean Sangha on zoom lead by Thay Phap Hai and Brother Tenzin in the Mountain Springs Monastery near Sydney. It has been a wonderful opportunity to join with sangha most nights and share our joys and sorrows and meditate together.
The other sanghas that are on zoom at this time that I have been joining are the Melbourne River Sangha and the Abundant Earth Sangha from Ballarat.
We can make this time of lockdown a time of retreat and a chance to deepen our practice and not feel so isolated. If you have not known about these Sangha’s please think about joining us as you are most welcome.
The Compassionate Ocean sangha has members now from all over the world. We meet on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 8 pm. Melbourne time. On Sunday night at 7:30 pm Thay Phap Hai gives a dharma talk. The topic at the moment is “The Noble Eight Fold Path”. His talks are always clear, full of wisdom, and very enjoyable. The Zoom Room is 94478678932 password 767226.
The Melbourne River Sangha meets on Tuesday evenings at 7 pm and on Monday and Thursday mornings at 6 am. It is especially joyful to do a sit with others in the morning! The Zoom Room is 5021040174 passwords breathe. You do not have to live in Melbourne to join.
The Abundant Earth Sangha is my local sangha and we meet on Saturday morning at 10 am and the zoom room is 8125899896 and the password is Breathe.
May your days be filled with mindfulness and gratitude. I hope to see you on zoom!
A deep bow to you.
True Radiant Ocean