Nourishing Heroic Effort with Love
Dear fellow practitioners,
Hi! – It's been some time since I've sent a message to you via your inboxes. The main reason for this is because in having done two 45 day intensive meditation retreats in Bodhgaya in the last 6 months, with the preparation and then recovery from such occasions, there has not really been the time or energy for settling into an audio editing routine. The good news is that along with a good monk friend, Ajahn Nyaniko, I was able to do 400 hours of formal meditation on both of these last two occasions… and this brought me to the completion of my '3000 hours' meditation vow.
Many years ago I made a vow to sit 1000 hours at Bodhgaya, as an offering of faith and gratitude to Lord Buddha. Once I had done so, in a very inspired moment I made a subsequent vow to do a further 2000 hours in that very sacred place. This was as much a way to deepen my own practice and commitment as it was an offering to the Three Jewels. So I've been slogging away at 'ticking this off' my bucket list, and have now finally done it!
Around ten days ago I was visiting the International Forest Monastery in Ubon, Northeast Thailand. I had just returned from Bodhgaya four days previous to this, so when Ajahn Kevali, the abbot asked me to give some reflections to the community, the recent practice in Bodhgaya was fresh in my mind. Although the talk that I am sharing with you on this occasion was addressed predominantly to junior monks, as it covers some important themes central to all serious and sincere practitioners, I felt that it was worth sharing with a larger audience.
I hope that something in the talk is helpful to you.
On this most recent intensive retreat in Bodhgaya, although I had not ever clearly intended to do so, on Day 11 of 45 days, I suddenly felt very inspired to start writing. Perhaps because it was the final in a series of retreats that spanned over a ten year period, there was a natural sense of reviewing occurring in the mind. I was considering deeply… What have I been doing here?... What's it all really about?... What have I gained and learned?... and what still needs to be learned? Perhaps there was also the awareness that something which has been very important in my monk's life was coming to an end, and I might appreciate a way to recollect it in the future.
In any event, write I did! So that by the end of the retreat my Journal entries filled 75 full pages! I originally shared them as 19 separate parts on an email list with a group of close friends and students, as a way of letting our friends now how we were all doing over there. A good number of these people then prompted me to consider sharing the journals with more people as a Dhamma book. Re-reading them recently I can see that much of what I wrote is in fact quite interesting and also relevant to anyone who is engaging the spiritual path sincerely. Bodhgaya is also a fascinating place, as were many of the people who I shared life with during these periods.
So I have decided to share the Journals in five 20 or so page instalments. One per week as of the 1st of May. They will be in a PDF format and will be located in the READING section of the Peace Beyond Suffering website. As subscribers you will receive and update with a direct link whenever a new instalment has been added. I hope that something in these may prove to be spiritually nourishing to you wherever you are.
May you be Well and Happy
Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu
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