Greetings fellow practitioners,
When I look back at the year 2019, for myself it was a very full and rich year. With the leading of a pilgrimage to India, followed by some intensive practice in Bodhgaya. Then throughout the year there was a big push to finish the Chedi construction and the many details, liaising and logistics that needed attending to with regards to this. There were also five visits from some of our most beloved Teachers and the special ceremonies which they led. I also made my first two visits to Sri Lanka and one to Nepal.
Despite this being personally ‘the busiest year of my life thus far’ I did still however manage to share 17 new items at my website. There were 11 talks shared, one on Compassion, some from retreats, some from pilgrimage, some given at meditation centres, and my first teachings ever given in Sri Lanka, including a lengthy and detailed Q and A session. There are parts 2 and 3 of the ‘Developing Compassion’ series of Guided Meditations as well. I’ve also shared 4 slideshows. One of Pilgrimage and three pertaining to the Chedi construction and Relics Enshrining ceremonies. Indeed I have continued to share as much with you all as possible, as generously as I could, and this was all offered for free, as is everything at the site.
Something which I often say while leading retreats, particularly towards the end. Is that it’s very important to try not to get too busy... and to make time for quiet reflection and practice. As I approach the ‘9 years of Anandagiri’ anniversary, I realise that I have been too busy and do in fact need to put some of my duties down. I don’t regret anything from the past years, in fact many dreams appear to have come true. But I must also now take my own advice. Outer activities must be balanced with formal practice and inner reflection. I never gave up on practice of course, it’s just that the many details of many projects have impinged more than is ideal.
Ajahn Anando (of Amaravati and Temple monasteries) made a generous offer to give me a break and come and help take care of Anandagiri. I have taken him up on his kind offer. So I will be taking a 5 month break from being an abbot, a teacher, a building project manager, a social worker, a forest regeneration project manager and an internet guru as well! I’m not sure if it’s because of close kammic affinity or a curious form of mental illness? But I will be spending around 3 months of this time in Bodhgaya. Having now made the vow to complete another 1000 hours meditating under the Bodhi Tree. In all likelihood’s it won’t actually be that quiet! But there will be many less duties and much more time for formal practice. I will in fact already be sitting in Bodhgaya by the time this arrives in your inbox. (samsara permitting)
I also plan to spend a more relaxing time in Patan, Kathmandu valley, and to climb Sri Pada (Adams Peak) in Sri Lanka as well. All the places that I plan to go are just a four hour flight to Thailand. So I’m not straying too far from home. I do indeed appreciate ancient spiritual centers and Holy Sites.
My desire to share Dhamma with fellow practitioners remains strong however. So during this period a skilled editor in Melbourne will be working on editing three Dhamma books, which I hope to share at my website upon my return. One will be a collection of my ‘most listened to’ Dhamma Talks. Assuming that those are the ones which people find most useful. Another will be a more readable and concise version of my ‘3000 hours meditating under the Bodhi Tree’ journal. With a significant ‘Afterword’ pertaining to how we can embrace our life with more faith and energy for spiritual practice. The book will be titled ‘Life as a Sacred Pilgrimage.’ The third will be the journal which I wrote while leading my most recent full Pilgrimage to the Holy Sites, with excerpts from the sharing of the other pilgrims who joined in as well. People learn through different mediums. I believe that these books will be a useful addition to the website.
And just as I will continue to dedicate merits to all beings kammicly connected to me whilst on my sabbatical leave. Your prayers and dedications for my physical safety and for success in the deepening of my own spiritual practice would be much appreciated. As well as for the smooth running of Anandagiri Forest Monastery. I do hope to return safely and to be able to share more with you all in a few months time.
Wishing you all well!
Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu
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