The whole of next year’s calendar is published on the website; for 2018 we have not scheduled any work days but will announce them on the Upcoming Events or by email when there is a need.
The first week of October we were joined by Rev. Master Saido Kennaway, who lives in England at the Telford Buddhist Priory and lived at Shasta Abbey in the late seventies and early eighties while he underwent his monastic training. He is a good friend of both Revs. Seikai and Phoebe and we had a lovely visit. Rev. Saido came with us to the Ventura Group Meeting and talked about his work as a prison chaplain in England. There is a video of him explaining the Four Noble Truths on YouTube which you may enjoy watching. While he was here we went for a long walk on the beach where many surfers and wind surfers offered an entertaining view, and then, courtesy of Jack and Wendy had veggie burgers, fries and cheesecake in a real American Diner, to the delight of Rev. Master Saido.
Thanks to Amanda and Kerry who drove Rev. Phoebe to LAX and back so she could go join the annual Western Buddhist Monastic Gathering. This year it was held in Hendersonville, NC, and instead of the usual 35 – 40 participants there were only 10 guests, which made for a very different experience. We discussed among other things the question of how much Buddhist monastics can or want to involve themselves in politics, and in what ways, when it is necessary or good to speak out against social ills, and how to be an influence for the good of the community.
This fall we saw our usual collection of Cal Poly students, who were taking a course in “religious extremism” come for their 24 hour long monastery experience. One group of four spent a couple of hours doing trail maintenance with Rev. Seikai on Sunday morning before they left: it was the “high point” of their visit, they said, and a very kind service to all those who walk the trails.
For the Segaki Ceremony we had six guests, just enough to make it a strong offering of love and Dharma to all our loved ones who have passed away, the unknown people who have died in difficult circumstances, and any hungry ghosts that might be interested.
The 3 day Autumn Retreat in November was fully booked, and even with two last minute cancellations we had a very full temple. We used Rev. Seikai’s book Depth Spirituality as a starting point for deep discussions, went for walks and generally enjoyed seeing the many friends who have been coming to this particular retreat now for 14 years. If you are interested in joining next year, please check the calendar.
Asha and Teresa, also long time friends, came to spend the Thanksgiving week with us and we were joined by others who came to visit with them on Sunday, when we shared our meditation, walk, and very good food.
Our carpet in the dining room had moved a couple of inches, and before the repair man came Rev. Phoebe laid new vinyl tiles on the kitchen floor. It all looks as good as new again.
On November 30th Mike Dunham came to take the Buddhist Precepts, accompanied by his wife Kathy. It was a lovely, quiet ceremony. It is an honor to witness someone becoming seriously committed to doing something about themselves—as Rev. Master Jiyu put it—and we wish Mike all the best in his practice as a lay Buddhist.
David Oliver came to be away from the smoke from the Thomas Fire (see opposite page) for a couple of days. His visit was very timely, since Rev. Seikai has been given a new table saw and David is a professional carpenter. He helped Rev. Seikai reorganize the workshop and setting up the tools in a fraction of the time it would otherwise have taken him.
The Thomas Fire
On December 4 a Santa Ana wind episode triggered off several large fires in Southern California. By far the largest, and the one that affects us and many of our members and friends is the Thomas Fire, which began near Santa Paula. The temple has so far not been in immediate danger, as the fire is well to the south of us nearer the coast. Two weeks into it, the Santa Ana winds have not really abated for more than a few days at a time, and the fire rages on. Currently the third largest fire in the history of California, it will soon surpass the top two and become the largest. The fire has threatened and burned parts of Santa Paula, Ventura, Casitas Springs, Oak View and Ojai in Ventura County, and has moved into Santa Barbara County where it is burning on the edge of Carpinteria, Montecito and Santa Barbara with no end in sight. The five year long drought, climate change, global warming, and last year’s rains which spurred the growth of chaparral and brush have created our current worst-case scenario conditions.
Highway 33, our most direct route to the coast, is closed for an indefinite period; the monks have not been able to visit the Meditation Group in Ventura. The next meeting will be on February 1st, if all goes well. One woman from Ojai came to take shelter at the temple for a few days; the temple remains open as a refuge if anyone else needs to do so. We have been dedicating merit for all those who lost their homes, and did a ceremony for the fire fighter who lost his life in the fire, as well as for all animals and trees that have perished in the flames.
Smoke from the Thomas Fire billowing above Pine Mountain.