– a year of Deepening and Expansion
On this occasion, rather than sharing a Dhamma talk or reflection, I would like to offer something visual by way of encouragement. It is sometimes said that a picture can tell a thousand words, but it is also the case that the visual sense can touch a part of the heart and mind on a deeper level than words can. The slideshow that has been compiled and presented here records and represents an important year for Anandagiri Forest Monastery (the monastery where I live predominantly)… as it was a year of both deepening and expansion.
In this slideshow, as well as being able to observe the lovely vistas from our mountaintop location, one can also witness the thoughtful attention that has been given to detail in creating a functional yet environmentally sympathetic practice space. In taking a few minutes to observe this simple string of images, the commitment and dedication of the monks as well as the sincere service, practice and devotion of the laity can clearly be seen. When I look back at this collection of images I feel great joy, for there is a palpable sense of harmonious co-operation as well as of generous and joyful giving of both energy and resources. Indeed it does seem that we have been creating something both good and useful, and in some respects quite beautiful as well.
Whenever trying to encourage others in the practice of Dhamma, as well as reading the simple yet profound encouragements contained in the recorded talks of wonderful masters such as Ajahn Chah, I have found that it is also useful for the yogis who are often struggling with all sorts of doubts and challenges, to hear just a little of the struggles and doubts of the person speaking to them. While teaching in Penang I was reminded of the time eighteen and a half years before when I had a crisis of confidence right there on the very same tropical island. I share the details of that experience and describe how I persevered with various doubts and apparent obstructions and was able to “keep going” along the Path after all. After this short personal reflection I offer a reading of an excerpt from one of Ajahn Chahs talks “Listening to Dharma” contained in the book “Being Dharma.” Where Ajahn Chah encourages us to be determined in truly recognising conditions for what they are, putting down our unreasonable expectations and learning to rest in the peace that is deeply at ease through “simply knowing these things as they actually are.”
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