January - March
On New Year's Eve we make three bows by the Founder's Shrine to the Buddha and our teachers to express our gratitude for all the opportunities to practice we had in the previous year, and renew our dedication to training. This year was special because Benjamin Schaeffer chose this day to take the Precepts and formally become a Buddhist practitioner and member of our temple, even though he lives far away. We wish him well and look forward to many retreat visits from him in the coming years.
January proved to be very restful for the monks, the weather was not too bad so we were able to relax and quietly work on our new bed frames, which are all in place now together with new mattresses. Our grateful thanks to everyone who made donations who helped pay for this project. January is the month to attend to the end-of-year bookkeeping and, most importantly, our deeper meditation.
February saw a good number of visitors and retreat guests, and we were joined long term by Chris Budny, as resident trainee and caretaker. Chris has been practicing for a number of years in the Thich Nat Hahn tradition and had taken the Five Precepts. On March 13 he accepted lay ordination in our Serene Reflection Tradition, taking all 16 Precepts. May his training be fruitful and bring blessings to all beings. We are very happy to have Chris training with us.
Thanks to Beth for her help with driving to and from the train station in San Luis Obispo, Rev. Phoebe was able to go to Shasta Abbey for a long weekend, February 18 – 21, to attend the funeral for Rev. Master Hubert Nearman, who had died in January after a very long illness. Rev. Hubert had completed a translation of Dogen's Shobogenzo a number of years ago, a copy of which can be found on the Shasta Abbey website, or in print in our library. He had a long life and many friends, and Rev. Phoebe enjoyed the opportunity to meet a lot of old friends after the funeral.
The El Nino promises of rain have not become reality up here in the mountains; we have not had quite enough rain for the trees, but enough to make the weeds grow! There is a lovely display of wildflowers in the fields, and before too long weed abatement is going to be in full swing. Any help on upcoming work days will be appreciated. The rain, when it comes, often seems to fall on weekends, which made it a bit hard for people to come in March, but we did hold two meditation retreats during the month, which were small but inspiring nevertheless.
Rev. Seikai over the years wrote a series of articles on the Six Paramitas, and we have now published a booklet with the whole collection. It is a Dana offering, freely available at the temple, or we will send you one on request. Dana books are made possible by donations.
We were offered help with changing and upgrading our website in such a way that we can edit it from the temple computer, and have started the process. For years now we were dependent on the kind help from Pam Johnson, who did a great job setting it up and maintaining it all this time. If you have any suggestions on the form or content of our site, this would be a good time to offer those to one of us monks.
Spring is on the way and we are about ready to start the summer vegetable patch. Chris donated a raised garden bed, which we hope to use for the traditional trio of corn, beans and squash, as an experiment. The raised bed has been filled with fertile garden soil and is ready to go. Last year we had a good crop of tomatoes and greens and we hope to do that again, too. Rev. Seikai, with help from several people, has turned the flood damage in the garden in front of the Dharma House into an opportunity to rebuild the rock and flower beds; it looks beautiful already and should be gorgeous once the flowers bloom.
We held a Segaki ceremony on March 20, the first day of spring. It felt good to do the full Hungry Ghost feeding ceremony outdoors in the patio, which we weren’t able to do last fall due to a lack of people. The weather was perfect and we all enjoyed Rev. Phoebe’s Dharma talk and a potluck after the ceremony.
The Jizo Hill trail and the Ridge trail sustained some damage last summer during the deluge at the end of July. Winter rains added a bit to that, which is to be expected, but now Chris has been slowly but surely repairing and upgrading the trails. He enjoys the work and it is a kind offering to the monks and our guests who use the trails.
The O.B.C. has again published a paper bound book including all of the articles written for its on-line Journal during the previous year. We were sent a copy of the 2015 Journal, which is available via the O.B.C.’s website.