Dear Dhamma friends, dear Sangha friends, Warm spring greetings on this day of the Spring Equinox, here next to Yulupa Mountain in the green and fragrant Sonoma hills and pastures of Northern California.
I've put down the books and all the files of the Vinaya research for a little while this afternoon, and gone out to walk beneath the blue sky and blossoms, feeling the freshness of the time. And the freshness and opening and ease that putting everything down brings to the heart. This is peaceful.
I look back on our vihara, gold and red Dhamma wheel prayer flags blowing in the light breeze. It looks like so many other places other than this small sign. But these stairs and this entry way, are for so many of the people who come here, the entry into a space of peace. A place to come to meditate, to listen to and speak about the Dhamma, and about the matters of deepest importance to our hearts. A place to turn to our moral and ethical integrity as human beings, to touch into tranquility and clarity, and to grow in wisdom and insight.
And looking up to the right, to the west -- the place of our Vinaya work, for the Bhikkhuni Vibhanga Project. How amazing that such a humble space, just these two rooms of an old ranch house, while the world turns to spring here, are now our temporary North American Theravada Bhikkhuni Vinaya Research Institute. But it seems suitable in a way, as many things of the past have come together into this spring, this new life that we are experiencing in our Sangha. A time of new blossoming and new growth on the great old trees of the vast Sangha forest. When what appeared to be dead, draws life from the root, and with the changing of the season rises to bloom again, bringing with it flowers and fruit. And the Path is like this day in so many ways. A freshness and clearing coming to the senses, with mindfulness and tranquility, the whole system being bathed and cleansed (as the neuroscientists say about meditation), new ways of seeing opening ~ in the world of our experience.
As i come back up these steps, and step in through the door into the silence here, i look back, flags fluttering in the breeze. I notice the framing, the bevels in the glass and how the view of the same thing is reflected at such different angles. Especially in the last frame, when the flags have calmed, it is seen most clearly. This is our view. We can make the frames, adjust the angles of our perceptions and views. Making this a conscious process, we realize that all of our experience, perceptions and feelings, arises from this process. A calm and choiceful process. Or what can be a calm and choiceful, full intentional process. This learning, this study, this practice is truly a jewel of this Way. It is our Dhamma door. It is of such benefit to work with this. For all of our other works, and everything we experience will past through this doorway, the doorway of the eye of our heart. If it is the Dhamma eye, we will see the Dhamma. If it is the opening eye of awakening, we will awake. If it is the eye of truth, we will see clarity and Truth. And if it is met by the non-grasping heart of freedom, we will be free. Ah! ~ what freshness. The qualities of the spring day remind me of these benefits of the Path, that even those who are not arahants may experience. For those who practice mindfulness and clear comprehension diligently. For those who look into the Dhamma. For those who inspired, become joyful and then, hearts clearing, become deeply tranquil. And whose hearts and minds become unified, and then stabilize deeply into equipoise, clarity and peace. May all know these benefits through the blessing of these teachings and their own right efforts.
Etam santam, etam panittam... _()_ ... this is peaceful, this is excellent... Santam tassa manam hoti santā vācā ca kamma ca Sammadaññā-vimuttassa upasantassa tādino _()_ Peaceful is her mind, Peaceful are her words, peaceful are her deeds. So is the perfect knowing of one who is free ~ Calm, tranquil and at ease.
-- the Buddha, Dhammapada 96
In compassion, Ayya Tathālokā Bhikkhunī Vinaya Research Retreat midway at Dhammadharini Vihara March 20, 2014