Tag Archives: Upasika

Taking Root

This past Wednesday Joan and I drove out to the Hermitage to get the tents ready for the monks. We aimed to get ourselves off the land before they showed up for their first night of Vassa and though we arrived a full two hours later than originally intending, our mission was accomplished. Still, upon arriving I was feeling a bit of pressure to hurry up and finish which made for a mindfully unpleasant few moments, heh, heh, heh. Sweat poured and ankles bent as we trecked up and down the hillside till finally the tents were in good order. Joan headed back up the hill to prepare our lunch while I shot a few photos. If you ever do anything with Joan and she offers to make you lunch? . . . you really want to take her up on it!

It was nice to share the meal offering with Ashleigh today; walking in with bags full of food and seeing the monks conversing near a shrine was like entering an honest to goodness monastery.

Yesterday Greg and Adrienne brought their children to the Hermitage and offered the monks their first Vassa meal. They also made an offering to the Sanghata Foundation; a beautiful marble Buddha rupa. You can see it below just to the right of Ajahn Sudanto (left side of photo). A beautiful expression. I feel fortunate to be part of such a community as this.

This ‘practice-run’ for a possible monastery taking root near the Portland area certainly has its challenges, as any large scale project must. Still the foundation so far laid is also bearing some tasty fruits: witnessng amazing generosity, meeting well with challenging deadlines and sharing aspirations with others; all the while strengthening old and new friendships.

Ajahn Sudanto’s mother summed up this Hermitage adventure in a charming if not ‘mortherly’ way; “it’s a dream come true isn’t it?”
Yes, it certainly is, and a good one at that!

Preparing for the Summer Hermitage

6:00 a.m.
Meditating in the early morning with a few friends is a pleasant way to begin a full days work. With the Summer Hermitage quickly approaching a few Upasika’s gathered for mediation, chanting and taking of precepts. The streets outside are unusually quiet, or maybe my mind simply lands on the sound of the birds lyrical chatter. Either way I welcome this calm beginning to the full day of community work ahead.

7:00 a.m.
Coffee and pastries welcome us back to the sensual realm. With great restraint I manage to avoid smacking my fingers as I break into a third bit of muffin.

Our numbers have grown from five to nine as we pile into cars and head out to the land in Mosier where we continue the work of preparing Micheal and Mimi’s land for the monks from Abhayagiri. Scott is the designated work manager and points us in varied directions. Being an artist I am happy to share responsibility with Ashleigh to do the finishing painting and plaster work in the yet-to-be-completed cookhouse.

12:00 noon
We break for meal and as usual the potluck proves abundant and delicious. Most the folks have been hurling large pieces of lumber down the steep hillsides, digging latrines and building platforms. For them the strong breeze must surely be a lovely compliment to our expanding bellies. I enjoy this part of the day; hungry, sweaty, tired and happily sharing the log tossing, latrine digging, paint dripping adventures.

3:00 p.m.
Ashleigh and I finish our work and decide to clean up and head down to the bottom of the hill to see what the others are up to. There’s Jennifer swinging a pickaxe while Scott, Alistair and Mike review the exact location of where the shade will most likely fall when the monks first rise from their kuti’s.

Ok, so they are dripping in sweat, as is Jennifer too, still, its quite a priceless picture don’t you think? Jennifer looks up and beams a big smile, hoist her tools atop her shoulders and heads up the hill. I follow her because she’s my ride back to Portland. Once on top she shares her joy in digging the toilet, so much so that she’s volunteer to come back on Tuesday and make it a wee bit deeper yet.

All in all, a very good day, with very good people, doing a very good thing for a very good reason; getting ready for the monks who will visit, give Dhamma and receive Alms.