Jul 24

Rabindranath Tagore

“If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life,
your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.”
~ Rabindranath Tagore

Vettamyra- in Sunndal by Haakon Nygaard

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Jul 24

The Awakened

The one whose conquest cannot be conquered again,
into whose conquest no one in this world enters,
by what track can you lead that one,
the awakened, the omniscient, the trackless?

The one whom no desire
with its snares and poisons can lead astray,
by what track can you lead that one,
the awakened, the omniscient, the trackless?

Even the gods emulate those who are awakened and aware,
who are given to meditation, who are wise,
and who find joy in the peace of renunciation.

It is difficult to be born as a human being;
difficult is the life of mortals;
difficult is the hearing of the true path;
difficult is the awakening of enlightenment.

Not to do wrong, to do good, and to purify one’s mind,
that is the teaching of the awakened ones.
The awakened call patience the highest sacrifice;
the awakened declare nirvana the highest good.

The one who strikes others is not a hermit;
one is not an ascetic who insults others.
Not to blame, not to strike,
to live restrained under the law,
to be moderate in eating, to live alone,
and to practice the highest consciousness–
this is the teaching of the awakened ones.

There is no satisfying lusts,
even by a shower of gold pieces.
Whoever knows that lusts have a short taste
and cause pain is wise.
Even in heavenly pleasures one finds no satisfaction;
the disciple who is fully awakened
finds joy only in the destruction of all desires.

People driven by fear go for refuge
to mountains and forests, to sacred groves and shrines.
That is not a safe refuge; that is not the best refuge.
After having got to that refuge,
a person is not delivered from all pains.

Whoever takes refuge with the awakened one,
the truth, and the community,
who with clear understanding perceives the four noble truths:
namely suffering, the origin of suffering,
the cessation of suffering, and the eightfold holy way
that leads to the cessation of suffering,
that is the safe refuge; that is the best refuge;
having gone to that refuge,
a person is delivered from all pains.

A person of true vision is not easy to find;
they are not born everywhere.
Wherever such a sage is born, the people there prosper.
Blessed is the arising of the awakened;
blessed is the teaching of the truth;
blessed is the harmony of the community;
blessed is the devotion of those who live in peace.

Whoever gives reverence to those worthy of reverence,
whether the awakened or their disciples,
those who have overcome the army
and crossed the river of sorrow,
whoever gives reverence to such as have found deliverance
and are free of fear,
their merit cannot be measured by anyone.
Gautama Buddha

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Jul 23

Swami Vivekananda

The greatest error, says the Vedanta
is to say that you are weak,
that you have no power
and you cannot do this or that.
~Swami Vivekananda

Gt Wall by anu sri

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Jul 22

Paramahansa Yogananda

“Let not your life run in the ordinary way;
do something that nobody else has done.”
~ Paramahansa Yogananda

Recycled by IE

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Jul 21

A Spiritual Field Trip

A Spiritual Field Trip in New York, USA

If you are ever in the New York City area, plan a trip to the Shawangunk mountain area. This is a hamlet located in the western part of the Town of Shawangunk in Ulster County, New York, U.S., generally thought of as coterminous with the 12588 ZIP code. Walker Valley is one of the three geographic parts of the town that local residents use (The other two are Wallkill and Pine Bush). It is centered along NY 52 in the western part of town, where it begins to slope up to the Shawangunk Ridge. There are several Buddhist temples and center spread over this area, representing various traditions.
This is a gorgeous location with beautiful mountains and valleys with small interesting villages.. It is located approximately 1 hour minutes from NYC. It is an enjoyable country drive, passing some farm lands and lots of open space.
We took this trip on Saturday, July 29th with the intention of visiting several Buddhist temples and Centers all located in close proximity to each other.

Dharma Drum Retreat Center – our first stop

Link to their website below:

http://dharmadrumretreat.org/

Our first stop was Dharma Drum Retreat Center in Pine Bush, founded by the late, great Venerable Chan Master Sheng Yen (Shifu), from Taiwan, and carried on by his Dharma heirs. Dharma Drum is a Chan center and is 90 minutes Northwest of NYC. Once you reach route 52, you turn and proceed to 184 Quannacut Road, Pine Bush, New York, 12566. This is a charming, winding, narrow road with a few houses set back in glens. Passing through stone walls, you come to the exquisite grounds of the retreat center.
On the left and up a small knoll, sits the Chan Hall where all meditation and retreats are held. On our visit, there was a 10-Day Intensive Chan Retreat in progress which combines the method or Huatou and Silent Illumination (Shikantaza in Japanese) what Shifu calls the method of no method. As a result we did not enter the Hall to do our normal sitting so as not to disturb this silent retreat. Note: if you wish to learn more about these methods check our archives for topics on Huatou (Hwadu in Korean) and Silent Illumination)

ddrc meditation hall

Behind the Hall and a short walk to the woods is a lake with varieties speciesof wildlife, indigenous to this area – beavers, turtles, birds, foxes,deer and rabbits. Retreatants often complete walking meditation around this small lake

ddrc lake

To the right of the entrance to the Center is the administrative building where one can obtain literature, books by Shifu and other items. This is where Retreatants sign in for a retreat
Behind this building lies the dormitories, one for males and one for females. Also located here is the dining hall. There are huge expanses of pristine green lawns and deer grazing nearby.
Note: Check the website schedule for retreat days as you will not be able to visit the Hall on those days, although you can walk the grounds silently.

dorms ddrc

Blue Cliff Monastery – our next stop

Check the link below for their website.

http://bluecliffmonastery.org/

Turning out of Dharma Drum we headed Northwest a short distance to Grau Road in Walker Valley to Blue Cliff Monastery. It is located on 80 acres of beautiful woodland in the Shawangunk Mountains, south of the Catskills and just two hours from New York City. After a short drive we came to the Monastery. Blue Cliff is one of several locations in the USA aside from his many international locations, including the famous Plum Village in France. Blue Cliff was founded by the great master, Thích Nhất Hạnh (Thầy) in 2007. Monks and Nuns can be seen walking and working the grounds; all are very friendly and readily helped us to find various locations. On a previous visit, the monastics invited us to their kitchen area for delightful Vietnamese tea and happily answered our many questions.
We parked next to the mediation Hall and the first thing we see is calligraphy (in English) by the great master. We soon discover that many of the small rocks and boulders have been painted with these insightful reminders to mindfulness. See picture below (I have a copy of this calligraphy done by the Master’s hand)

blue cliff meditatiion hall

Blue cliff was preparing for an open house the next day so they were a bit busy but the Hall was empty so we were able to sit on the side and do a short meditation.

inside blue cliff hall

We soon headed for the administration building which houses the gift shop. Sadly it was closed that day, but on previous visits we were able to purchase rice paper calligraphy by the master. We were told the gift shop is open on Thursday and Sunday.
On our way to the house, we were pleasantly surprised to see four Buddha statues nestled in the small birch tree grove. See picture below.

statues at blue cliff
At around 5 PM a monastic rang a bell calling all to meditation but it was time for us to leave.

Note: Check the Blue Cliff schedule as it is closed to the public on retreat days

World Buddhist Society, Walker Valley, NY – our third stop

When we visited this site several years ago, they had a very small temple that a very gracious nun invited us to visit. She gave us some excellent red plum tea and answered many of our questions. The group is in the process of building a new larger temple for the public, and it was under construction at this time.

Excerpt from the SHAWANGUNK JOURNAL by Chris Rowley
(Edited by Delani – some information has been deleted0
‘”The Route 52 project will continue as understood. The new temple will be behind the properties owned by the World Buddhists at 38 Oregon Trail,” said land surveyor and engineer Margaret Hillriegel, who represented the World Buddhists. “They have an 85 acre parcel there. The plan is for a sixty by fifty foot building, with basement and two stories; about 10,000 square feet in total. The site was chosen by the World Buddhist Master, the Venerable Chan Yun, in accordance with feng shui principles.”
What will it look like?
“It will be a similar design to the Route 52 project, but bigger, obviously,” Hillriegel said, also noting that there are some mature pine trees that will screen the new building from Oregon Trail, at least in part.
In an interview with the Venerable Dharma Master Chan Yun, and the Reverend Jing of the World Buddhist organization, it was made clear that the purpose of the two temples would be somewhat different.
“The temple here on Route 52, that will be open to the public,” said Reverend Jing. “If local people want to come in and sit, and be quiet and meditate, it will be there for them, too.”
It will also be used for daily meditation by World Buddhists.
“The other temple,” said Reverend Jing, “that is to be used for monastic purposes most of the time.”
Plus, it will also be utilized by larger groups who will come for a handful of festival days during the year.
Reverend Jing explained that the World Buddhists are building a monastery in Walker Valley.
“In monastery, wherever a monk goes, that is the temple,” she said. “Whole monastery is the temple.”
Master Chan Yun added, “We are encouraging the development of ‘pure mind.’ Everyone has knowledge, even little children have knowledge, but not everybody has ‘pure mind.’ Pure mind is more important. If we eradicate bad thought and encourage pure mind we can also eradicate war and violence and encourage peace… The temple will be for monks and nuns, and residents who will attend morning and evening lessons there, as well as meditation.”
Reverend Jing explained that there would also be “retreats” held at the monastery for individuals and family groups. These retreats would sometimes last for a week.

Pure City, Pine Bush, NY – Our last stop

We ended our day at an amazing Vegan restaurant in Pine Bush, NY. Pure City is Chinese but not your typical American Chinese restaurant – far from it. The chef only serves gourmet dishes with mouthwatering sauces. We kept asking “are you sure we are not eating meat?” My orange sauce soy nuggets were very close to chicken. My sister’s teriyaki steak had a definite grilled steak flavor to the soy. Fresh crispy veggies garnished the plate (I am still drooling). We topped it off with Red plum tea (my favorite) and mango pudding. This puts all other puddings to shame. Check the link below and be sure to look at the menu

http://www.purecityny.com/

All and all a wonderful, spiritually refreshing day. A must visit. Hotels are in the area and if you do a retreat at either Dharma Drum or Blue cliff, dorms rooms are available. Both locations offer volunteer stays during which you can contribute skills you may have and live the life as monks do.

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