September - December
Our 3-day silent retreat in September was well attended by a nice mix of new and regular people. It helps new practitioners to have examples in silence, and the ones who are familiar with being at the temple are extra motivated to share the practice. Everyone benefits.
In October we continued to have several long term guests joining us, including private retreats. After Rev. Seikai and Travis visited with the Central Coast Meditation Group in Morro Bay, they continued on the next day to Paso Robles, where Rev. Seikai had been invited to teach a meditation evening in a private home and spend the night. It was a long trip and ended with driving through a thunderstorm which eventually flooded parts of Highway 166.
During the coming winter months Rev. Seikai is not going to make this two or three day trip again, so he can be at the temple in case the weather gets bad.
On Sunday Oct. 25 Jack Collings from Ventura received the Precepts from Rev. Seikai, witnessed by Wendy, Jack's wife, and their daughter Cara, as well as several of our members. It was a happy occasion, followed by a lovely lunch provided by Wendy, and presents for Jack.
Because of bad weather there were only two people here for Segaki, or Feeding of the Hungry Ghosts Ceremony, and so we turned it in to a simpler dedication of merit ceremony. Not having to concentrate on quite so many details made it possible to make a very deep and meaningful offering to all those who have died in difficult circumstances.
We continued to see many people in November and on the 12th started our annual Autumn Retreat with the core group that has been coming now for 13 years. It was great to see old friends again for this retreat and welcome a few new faces.
A handful of students from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo came to do a student project for their World Religions class, as they have been doing now for several years. They are bright and interested and fun to spend some time with. It is gratifying to be able to teach some basic Buddhist concepts and clear up a few misunderstandings about Buddhism, as well.
The members meeting at the end of the month was the third in a row not well attended, and after discussing this with those who were there we have decided to only hold a members meeting once in 2016, hoping to get as many members as possible to come and spend some time together. It will be held on June 5 and we plan to make a weekend of it. Membership of the temple does have benefits that go far beyond the simple notion of support, which is important in itself. It also makes for a sense of belonging and responsibility and is way to express ones appreciation for the temple and what it means. Because of the support of members we are able to show young people and students how the Buddhist life can be lived in actual practice, and that is a gift that goes well into the future.
Our December 2 day retreat for the Buddha's Enlightenment was full and very joyful, we read the Buddha's Story to one another on Saturday night and had a celebration on Sunday, followed by a potluck lunch for about 20 people.
We have been here in Ozena Valley for 16 years in January, and the temple is doing well. A new generation of regulars is starting to form, and we are seeing many more young people than we have in years. Recently we noticed that our beds are showing signs of wear after all these years, and we are doing an upgrade with new mattresses, bedding and wood frames. Any help with paying for this will be appreciated. The mattresses are being delivered to the temple in December, and meanwhile Rev. Seikai is building the bed frames.
During the month of January we will be closed for some much needed rest for the monks, and in February, when we will resume normal activities, we hope the heavy rains associated with the El Nino cycle will not make it impossible for people to come again.