Sunday, September 29, 2013


Have you ever had a word stick in your mind and refuse to leave? Come to your attention again and again until you finally had to sit up and take notice? I have to admit, it's a first for me. I've had plenty of songs stuck in my head -- maddeningly so in early meditation retreats where the mind would latch onto anything it could find in order to avoid actually being exposed.

This word -- transmogrify -- stuck in my head all morning. Somehow, I had a vague sense of what it meant -- and tried vaguely to remember where it had entered my life in the past, wondered why it was suddenly coming to the fore so strongly. Finally, I googled the word to get the meaning: one meaning was to change or alter greatly. One I like better, now that I've continued to look at this word as it continues to sit and stick in my mind, is "transform, especially in a surprising or magical manner."

Once I was certain of the meaning -- and my earlier sense that it meant 'change' was surprisingly correct -- I began to look back and see where it entered my life. I still don't have the answer to that question. It's not a word that is generally found in my lexicon and I have no clue why it's sticking around or how I even began to sense that it meant change.

None of that managed to rid the word from my mind. It's still there, strong enough to prompt me to write this. What is it trying to tell me? Is there some 'surprising or magical' change about to enter my life? Is it already underway? What's going on here? Does my mind know something it hasn't told me yet? I'm stumped -- but curious.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Thoughts from the forest

My kuti -- the newest one, named Access
My experience here this summer is diametrically opposed to my experience here last summer. How can that be? I've asked myself that -- and come up with several possible or combination of answers. One is that my expectations this year were based on past knowledge of what I'd find, rather than whatever unknown expectations I had last year. Another (gained from a posting by our Abbess, Ayya Tathaaloka) is that my perceptions are different this year. I'm looking at the forest as home, seeing its value, its ability to heal, its beauty, its peace and silence and being surrounded by nature all as wonderful opportunities, not as an obstacle.

Once again, I packed the wrong clothing for the weather we are experiencing -- I brought warm things based on my cold experience last year. The few cool t-shirts I have see frequent washings, while the heavier things languish on the shelves. And that's never a complaint -- give me warm, sunny, breezy and totally beautiful days anytime, and I will adjust to meet the circumstances.

And that, as I type this, reminds me once again (and again, from reading Ayya Tathaaloka's words recently) that anything life presents us with can be viewed and perceived as an opportunity, rather than an obstacle, if you open your heart-mind to the possibilities. I see nothing here as an obstacle that can't be overcome.

Here on the land -- a fitting illustration.
Switching topics a bit, I want to quote something wonderful that I read a couple of days ago in a book called A Still Forest Pool, the Insight Meditation of Achaan (Ajahn) Chah.  I haven't finished the book because by evening, when I have time to read, my brain is tired and not much of it sticks. But this stuck: "The heart of the path is so simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice."  Never have I read anything that cut so deeply, so quickly and simply to the heart of how we are meant to practice. Although I could never have stated it with such clarity as this, I can say with all honesty that this is where my practice is trending at the time, mostly off the cushion as I go through each day with this intention fully in my mind.

Being here has already developed this ability in me to a much greater degree, and continues to do so daily. Things change here with sometimes startling rapidity.  My options are to sit back by the wayside and grumble (clinging), resist the change in plans, or to just roll with it, which is what I do almost seamlessly now. I sometimes smile at an unexpected change, but don't cling to whatever it was that changed.

Walking down to the creek.

Now, on to fun! We had a wonderful young woman visit for a bit over a day, filled with questions about life here, about the mechanics of ordaining and such. Yesterday before she left Ayya took us for a creek walk (our creek, fittingly named DharmaCreek) that led us to a lovely waterfall -- shown in the above photo. And I mean literally a creek walk -- not walking alongside the creek, but for the most part walking in the creek, scrambling over and around huge boulders, along narrow bits of land alongside a really huge rock, through and around trees and branches, whatever it took to pick a path to the waterfall. To be clear: I love creekwalks! Have enjoyed them in the past -- the long ago past. I expect that the last one was maybe 1993-1995, and I was pleased and surprised that this body would still do it.

The pool again, and the rocks. All so beautiful. The air was warm, the cool water felt so wonderful on my feet. Not only am I a nature girl, I'm also a water girl.

Once here, we talked for awhile then sat in meditation for 20 minutes or so before reversing our course back to the cars. This is just a tiny taste of what is available here, if we (I) but only take advantage of it.

Not a fascinating photo, taken from the waterfall looking back, but it does show the beauty of the creek, the forest, all that surrounds us as we dwell here happily and peacefully. How can this be perceived as unpleasant?