Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Buddhamas Carol


I repost this song from the archive of one year ago

To hear the audio version


The Buddhamas Carol
The Ode to the Vipassana Yogi

Silent Night, Peaceful Night,

All is calm, Stars are bright,
Round the hall Yogis sitting still,

Keeping their backs straight, exerting will,

Enduring pain without any ill-will,

Pervading Metta all throughout space,

Wishing Good-will to the whole human race.
Silent Mind, Peaceful Mind,

Thoughts are few, Pain is slight,

Focusing mind at the tip of the nose,

Knowing each breath as it comes and it goes,

Percieving the light that steadily glows,

Feeling the Rapture from head to the toes.
Silent Mind, Tranquil Mind,

 Thoughts are stilled, Body feels light,

All the Five Hinderances have died down,

The Ego no longer is spinning around,

Mind is one-pointed not moving a bit,

Enjoying at long last the Jhanic Bliss,

Sitting in Joyful Peace, Sitting in Blissful Peace.

Silent Mind, focused Mind,

Awareness is strong, Mind is bright,

The Spiritual Faculties are prepared,

Vipassana-Insight has Mara scared,

Scanning the body from head to the toes,

Anicca, Anicca, each moment goes,

Anicca, Anicca, Impermanence flows,

 The Five Aggregates appear empty as foam,

The Truth of No-Self is easily shown,

Sitting in insightful Joy, Sitting in insightful Joy.

Silent Mind, equanimous Mind,

Awareness is clear, Wisdom shines,

The six sense-impingements arise and pass,

No desire, no clinging, no ego to grasp,

No holding to present, future or past,

Mara has vanished he took his last gasp,

This body-mind house is empty at last,

Sitting and walking the whole night through,

Greeting the dawn completely anew.

Silent Mind, Wisdom Mind,

Now is the time, Conditions are prime,

The Enlightenment Factors are developed well.

The Four Noble Truths become clear as a bell,

The Eye of Dhamma is opened wide,

The three lower fetters are broken in stride,

Tonight the Yogi enters the Stream,

Tomorrow Nibbana no longer a Dream .
(Composed by Yogavacara Rahula)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sri Lanka Revisited

Sri Lanka Revisited
Walk down Memory lane
On September 10th I landed back in Sri Lanka after a busy summer of leading retreats in Ladakh  (see previous posts). There cannot be a more dramatic contrast from the bare rocky high altitude desert and snow capped mountains of Ladakh and the hot humid lush green jungles and beaches of Sri Lanka. I stayed in Colombo for the first few days with my long time friend Gitan Rajapakse. He had also been at the ten day day retreat I had taught in Ladakh in July. After meeting several other long time supporters I went down to visit my old haunt at Unawatuna on the southern coast south of Galle. This area had been hard hit by the '94 Tsunami, but has now rebounded and looks better than ever-so to speak. This was a walk down memory lane. From those who have read my autobiography, One Night's Shelter, you will know that I had first come here in 1974 and lived here in a small kuti from '81-'86. Unawatuna beach has changed dramatically since then into a very popular tourist haven in the busy tourist months between December and March. I stayed here two days meeting some of the people who had so generously supported me with food on my daily 'Pindapatta' almsround back in those days.

The distant view of the Devale at the end of the curved beach

My kuti was situated behind the stupa on top of the hill

Going out on almsround from the Unawatuna Devale, 1977
The Unawatuna Beach and Devale today; restored and enlarged after the Tsunami

Entrance to the Devale

View from the back of the Devale; The tsunami smashed the Devale from this side

The repaired Buddhage; I spent many hours meditating in and around here as a young monk 
Classic old style Sri Lanka Buddha image inside

The stupa on top of the hill was built in 1992;
my kuti was at the left

Large Buddha image being built next to the stupa

The site of my old wooden kuti wedged between big rocks;
  I lived here from '81-'86

What the kuti looked like in 1985

The views from the hilltop

Looking towards Galle Fort and it's iconic lighthouse

I walked along this curved beach on my daily almsround in the early morning. At that time there were no buildings or boats 
Everything is subject to change

Gitan had oraganize a four day meditation retreat for me to teach on Hantane mountain above Kanday. It was held in the newly constructed Mount Royal hotel  at the end of the mountain road.  28 persons mostly from Colombo came up for the retreat. The retreat went off very nicely  and everyone was satisfied and happy afterwards.
Following the retreat Gitan and I made a three day road journey through the Northern Provence to Jaffna and back down to Trincomalee. We were accompanied by another Western monk, Ven. Guttasila. He has lived in Sri Lanka for thirty years. The Northern Province was closed to tourists for thirty years during the war with the LTTE. Since the war ended two years ago tourists are now once again allowed to travel through the area to Jaffna. In the Jaffna area there are a few ancient religious sites: The Naga Dipa Buddhist temple and a Hindu Kovil; the site where the Arahat Sanghamitta came ashore bringing the sacred Bodhi tree sapling; and a burial site for Arahants. Naga dipa is an island situated a few miles of the coast from Jaffna. One needs to ride a ferry to get to the island.We visited these places and then then spent the night in a hotel in Jaffna town. The next day we drove down to Mullattivu and Trincomalee. On the way we saw some of the effects of the long destructive war with the LTTE, which are slowly being cleaned up, including de-ming the area along the roadside. Closer to Trincomalee we visited another ancient Buddhist site, Thiriyaya. Thiriyaya is an ancient stupa marking the spot where the two Burmese merchants Tapussa and Baluka enshirined the 'hair relic' of the Buddha. According to the historical record these two men had met the Buddha just after his Enlightenment near Bodhgaya. They were the first to take the Three Refuges and Five Precepts directly from the newly Awakened Buddha. They were his first two lay disciples.
As a momento the Buddha gave them a few strands of his hair. These 'hair relics' it is said were later brought to Sri Lanka by Tapussa and Baluka and they had this memorial  stupa  erected. This then is the first Buddhist stupa erected on the island of Sri Lanka.
We spent our last night at a hotel on the Niliveli beach just north of Trincomalee town. In the morning we did our early morning predawn meditation on the wide sandy beach followed by a series of Yoga exercises with the rising sun. I hadn't been able to do that in a long while.

Participants at the group retreat in Hantane

Walking on the boat jetty to catch the launch to Naga Dipa

On the small boat ferry 

Approaching the shoreline at Naga Dipa

The Hindu Temple 

At the Buddhist temple

Walking back for the return boat ride

On the way back I opt to ride on the upper deck for the nice views

Statue of Arahat Sanghamitta with the Bo sapling

Map showing location of the spot  on the coast north of Jaffna where  Sangamitta had first landed 

Display depicting the landing with Bo-sapling

Guide explaining about the stupas of the Arahants
Graveyard of bombed and burnt  out vehicles from the war

The first Buddhist stupa at Thiriyaya

As we were leaving this wild elephant came out of the jungle to say 'hi'
After the trip to Jaffna and Trincomalee I went to stay in Kandy for one week at the Senanayaka aramaya in Udawattakale Forest Preserve. While in Kandy I also met Ven. Uganda Buddharakkita who used to live with me at the Bhavana Society Forest Monastery in West Virginia. He is living in Sri Lanka for three years pursuing a degree in Buddhist studies. 

While walking through the Udawattakale forest I almost stepped on this fellow.

                                     Don't tread on me

Before leaving the Island a friends of Gitan invited us to their weekend getaway house on a large lake near Moratuwa to spend a quiet weekend.

Bolgoda lake near Moratuwa

A casual lunch under the cool shady trees

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My last month in Ladakh

Hi Friends,
I spent the last month of my stay in Ladakh conducting five additional back to back 3-day retreats for the Mahabodhi Int'l Meditation Center in Leh, Ladakh. The last retreat ended on September 2nd.  Between 22--37 persons attended each retreat.
Following that there was a three day, International Festival of the Buddhist Heritage of Ladakh held from September 4th-6th. This event was also held at the Mahabodhi Devachan Campus. So it was quite a busy time. I did not even have time to get in an extra trek through the Markha Valley that I was kinda planning. But I happily resign that to Impermanence and non-attachment.

Here are some of the group photos showing the odd assortment of persons from at least eight different countries who came to each of the retreats. Persons from Israel dominated the numbers. Ven. Sanghasena, the founder and Spiritual teacher of the MIMC met with each group after the retreat to congradulate them for completing the course and give them words of encouragement.

Here are a few  photos from the Int'l Festival of Buddhist Heritage of Ladakh.

Ven. Sanghasena addressing the Chief guests of the Festival on the opening night
One of many Ladakhi Cultural dance presentations;

An excursion to the Shanti Stupa in Leh with two delegates to the Festival; Ven. Indrasara of Sri Lanka and Ven. Maitri of Nepal

The Japanese Peace Pagoda overlooking Leh city

The Mahabodhi Devachan Campus; Sambodhi retreat center lies at the base of the mountain

I am now in Sri Lanka until November 1st.
 Please check the travel/teaching page for my  whereabouts and teaching programs through the end of the year.

     May all beings be well, Peaceful and Wise