The Recitation

Now is the time to make the commitment with the Mindfulness Trainings. These trainings have the capacity to protect life and make it beautiful. They encourage us in the direction of peace, joy, liberation, and awakening. They are the foundation for individual happiness and the happiness of the family and society. The Mindfulness Trainings help us avoid making mistakes which create suffering, fear, and despair. Practicing the Trainings, we are able to build peace and happiness in ourselves and in our family, and joy and peace in our society. The wholesome collective energy of the community will support you and bear witness in this moment for you to make the commitment to live your daily life in the direction shown by the Five Trainings.

Flower Garland Discourse: The Ten Great Aspirations of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva

Body, speech and mind, purified, in oneness,

I bow deeply to touch limitless Buddhas

of the past, present, and future

throughout all worlds in the Ten Directions.

The power of Samantabhadra’s vow

enables me to be present everywhere.

Where there is a Buddha, I am there.

As Buddhas are countless, so too am I.

In a particle of dust are countless Buddhas,

all of them present with their own assembly.

The strength of my faith penetrates deeply

into every atom of all Dharma realms.

I aspire to use the Great Ocean of Sound,

giving rise to words of wonderful effect

that praise the Buddha’s oceans of virtues,

in the past, present, and future.

I bring these beautiful offerings:

garlands of the most beautiful flowers,

incense, music, perfumes, and parasols,

all to adorn the Tathagatas and their lands.

Bringing food, robes, and fragrant flowers,

torches, sandalwood, sitting mats,

the finest adornments here in abundance—

an offering to the Tathagatas.

Inspired by Samantabhadra’s vow,

I bring my heart, wide with deep understanding,

with loving faith in the Buddhas of the Three Times,

as an offering to the Tathagatas everywhere.

From beginningless time I have acted unskillfully

with craving, hatred, and ignorance

in actions of body, speech, and mind.

Determined now to begin anew, I repent.

I rejoice in every virtuous action

by anyone, in any direction,

by students and by those who need learn no more,

of Buddhas and bodhisattvas.

All beings who are Lamps for the world

and those who have just attained enlightenment,

I beg that you will think lovingly of us,

turning the Wheel of the Dharma for all.

With sincerity, I make a humble request

of the Buddhas and those who are about to enter nirvana:

remain with us here, throughout the Three Times,

for the benefit and the welfare of all.

I humbly make offerings inviting all Buddhas

to stay with us and guide all beings to the other shore.

All the merit of joyous praise and repenting

I offer to the Path of Awakening.

This merit is transferred to the Three Jewels,

to their nature and form in the Dharma realms.

The Two Truths are perfectly woven together

into the Samadhi Seal.

The ocean of merit is measureless.

I vow to transfer it and not hold anything for myself.

If any human, out of discrimination and prejudice,

tries to do harm to the Noble Teaching

with their words and their actions,

may their obstacles be fully removed.

In each moment, wisdom envelops the Dharma realms,

welcoming all to the place of non-regression.

Space and living beings are without limit,

the same with afflictions and results of past actions.

These four are fully and truly immeasurable.

So, too, is my offering of merit.

Avatamsaka Sutra 36,

Taisho Revised Tripitaka 279

Cultivating Seeds

It has only been one full week of our arrival to Heartwood Refuge. Today we sat in the Vajrayana Hall, all of what is quite different than the Ocean of Peace Meditation hall, without comparison just complete awareness.

This day we studied the Prajna Paramita Sutra

Emptiness of body, feelings, perceptions, mental formations and conscious. We practiced using our sitting meditation, being in the spaciousness and the vastness of everything around, other than and in between our 5 skandhas. For a moment understanding the freedom, the liberation from all things. Free from inter generational trauma, free from identity, free from all worldly things, free From this or that. What an experience to be if even for a moment one with all things and separate from nothing? After this practice the pure emotion filled the room as most were in contemplation how the vibration of our consciousness had just shifted and how each of us were sure we walked away with a better understanding of a most complex sutra. Well, at least for the section that was today’s lesson.

The Heart Sutra is one of the most popular sutras in Mahayana Buddhism.

In Sanskrit, it’s called Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya, which means, “The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom.”

It’s a combination of two Sanskrit words – prajñā “wisdom” with pāramitā “perfection.”

In Buddhism, Prajnaparamita means “the perfection of wisdom.” The perfect way to perceive reality.

The Heart Sutra is a written record of a conversation that took place between Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, and a disciple of the Buddha, Shariputra.  

Avalokiteshvara explains to Shariputra that all things are expressions of emptiness. Everything exists only as a part of everything else.

“Form does not differ from emptiness, emptiness does not differ from form. That which is form is emptiness, that which is emptiness is form.”

“Shariputra, all dharmas are marked with emptiness; they do not appear or disappear, are not tainted or pure, do not increase or decrease.”

“No ignorance and also no extinction of it, and so forth until no old age and death and also no extinction of them. No suffering, no origination, no stopping, no path, no cognition, also no attainment with nothing to attain.”

Emptiness, or in Sanskrit, shunyata, is the concept of perceiving events, objects, and ideas without coloring them with the tint of our perception.

Both emptiness and mindfulness encourage us to separate ourselves from our stories the mind has falsely learned to be reality. The stories that validate and form our identity – ego, the “I”, separating us from the rest of the world. 

The Heart Sutra implies that separateness is actually an illusion. And that the individual identities we assign and are assigned are also an illusion. An illusion that is conditioned through all of our senses, by friends, family, society, experiences and yes even our dharma friends.

Well with just one day in a week, it’s fair to say that our new experience has already illumined our appreciation and gratitude for our foundation. May it continue to blossom! In good hands.

Ancestors

“I am Remembering”

You knock at the door of every cell in my body. The rhythms of your drums beat to the tune of my heart. This mass in my throat is bigger than I can bear. So close and yet so far. Coming home to myself I know you are there, without language, land, culture, food, music or religion. You are the very essence of me, looking deeply the nature of my true self is also displaced. With each unpeeled layer you heave, sway, surge, roll, pitch and yaw through my being like a cargo ship carrying chattel to the land of the free. Each affliction cast overboard to the sea.

this pain this hurt

tears leak from my eyes

i hear you calling me back

you say

i feel alone

i feel afraid

i feel betrayed

oh how I weep

stripped bare

in the stillness you move through me

the greatest fleet

a yearning I cannot fulfill

what is this desire this craving that I can no longer ignore

there is something

deep in the pits of my throat

how can i speak for you with hands over my mouth

you say

i am alone

i am afraid

i am betrayed

which of these dharma doors

will lead to you

True self on the ground undulating between

cultural assimilation

and spiritual bypass

SCG

When You are Living in the Middle of a Poem

Rumi-

The sound of hoofbeats leaving a monastery
where all is timed and measured.
You are that rider.
Someone who does not care very much about things
and results, illness and loss, you are the soul
inside
the soul that is always traveling.
Mind gathers bait. Personality
carries a grudge. You weave cloth
like the moon leaving no trace on the road.
There is a learning community where the names of God
are talked about and memorized, and there is
another residence where meanings live.
You are on the way from here to there.
Your graceful manner gives color and fragrance
as creekwater animates the landscape it moves through.
The absolute unknowable appears as spring and disappears
in fall. Signs come, not the essence signified.
How long will you be a shepherd singlefiling us
in and out of the human barn. Will I ever see you
as you secretly are in silence?

New Beginnings are Ending only to Become New Again

Dear Beloved Community,

After living over 3 years at Deer Park Monastery it is with ambivalence that I must share that I have decided to leave the monastery. While I will still be practicing in the Plum Village Tradition I will seek refuge to receive studies for higher ordination. Though I will miss seeing many of you at the monastery my wish is to further my spiritual expression in new creative and engaged ways. So, I hope that means that I will have more opportunities to practice side by side with you in Sangha. As well as taking to our communities with right effort, sharing our practice of love and compassion in order to embrace and address the sufferings that impact us in our world, our society, ourselves and especially in our Dharma communities. I am bringing with me the gift of spiritual expression that at the core has turned me inside-out. I am coming home and leaving it at the same time. I re-enter to walk the world in a new way. Molting out of this this ever constant illusion. I walk with the courage of all of those before me. Rejoicing coming in to this larger dharma knowing we are on the path together coming from many directions. There is no one way. The way out is in and then out again and then……May I be fortunate enough to continue in this journey with you

Sister Clear Grace

Welcome to Our New Blog

Beyond the Fire Road

We are fresh out of the monastery to explore and begin our journey of what awaits us beyond the Fire Road. We have said goodbye to Deer Park Monastery our first home to which we will always be grateful. The Great Hidden Mountain has a beauty like no other! May we bring with us all that it has given us, all that it has taught us, it’s healing energy and vast acceptance to embrace all and may we share it with all sentient beings who’s paths we may cross.

This uncertain and courageous trek in our young monastic lives will be an odyssey you wouldn’t want to miss! So come along as we take to the wind bringing mindfulness and our meditation practice to a community near you.

Just Getting Started

We are two nuns who follow the teachings of the Plum Village Tradition. We are hoping to visit your Sangha and to serve individuals and all communities, especially those who would not have access to our basic practices of mindfulness and meditation. This is a new journey for us, so we ask that you follow, encourage and support us in whatever way feels right for you.

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