This time of year is a time for celebration. I’ve associated it with Handel’s hallelujah chorus from the Messiah for many years. This year the poet/singer song writer Leonard Cohen died the day before the election. I had listened to his music in the 60’s but not since becoming a monk in 1971. I read recently of his life and heard his song “Hallelujah” which is a very Buddhist song. It is a song of joy in the midst of suffering. He had been a Buddhist monk for 4 or 5 years so it is not a surprise that Buddhist teaching manifested itself in his music.
This is not a jubilant hallelujah of Handel welcoming a savior. In Buddhism we have to save ourselves by converting our ignorance into understanding and wisdom through Compassion. The Buddha’ First Noble Truth is to accept the inevitable reality of the human condition, that suffering exists. I once asked a high school class: “what is suffering?” A young woman replied: “Wanting things to be other than they are.” The Buddha then went on the explain the cause and the cure of suffering. He described his enlightenment as “Seeing things as they Truly are.” He’s referring to Absolute Truth, which understands on a very deep level the Purity, immaculate Emptiness, of the Radiant Buddha Mind that fills and contains all things. The Buddha is also referring to seeing the perfection or the ideal within the actual.
I have faith in the Buddhist teaching that evil is vanquished and good prevails, even if I can’t always see it yet. Suffering is created in our minds and hearts when the external circumstances are not what I would like or want. Meditation is the opening of the Heart to convert the actual by inviting Compassion to arise and cleans our distress. There is joy in this practice. It is frequently a quiet, restrained hallelujah, seeing of the glimmer of light within the darkness.
So this is a holiday greeting of a quiet and restrained Hallelujah. And a recent photo of the mountain in its winter clothing. With thoughts of loving kindness, Jisho
Starting on December 4th, and continuing in 2017, we will have a different schedule once a month, with a Meditation Sunday. Meditation periods of 30 minutes will be alternated with 15 minutes of Walking Meditation, and you may join at any time at the beginning of a section. We will keep Noble Silence for the entire period and ask that you respect that when you arrive.
Sitting Meditation starts at 10:15 am, and again at 11 am and 11:45 am. A short Dharma Talk may be given during any of those periods, and we will share a vegetarian lunch at around 1 pm.
We offer the merit of our Thanksgiving Day Ceremony to all who have made offerings to this temple of their training, of their time, money, wealth, food and drink, clothing and all other requisites of life. We especially give thanks to Rev. Master Houn Jiyu, to all the monks of our monastic order, to the greater Buddhist Sangha, and to our members who make this temple possible. We thank all those who have visited here in the past year, to all who make deliveries or provide services, to our neighbors, to this valley and all living beings who give it life and share their lives with us. We pray for peace in all the world, we pray that evil may be overcome by good, we pray for the peace of this temple and for the cessation of all disaster. Homage to all the Buddhas in all worlds. Homage to all the Bodhisattvas in all worlds. Homage to the Scripture of Great Wisdom.
This years Autumn Retreat focused initially on various chapters from Rev. M. Meiten’s book “Reflections on the Path”. Since the election results had come out the day before, we had a good opportunity to ground ourselves in the practice and teaching while looking at our responses to circumstances in real time. The participants all have tens of years of training behind themselves, and the maturity was a joy to witness. As you can see we were all smiling at the end of the retreat, determined to keep the Dharma perspective with us wherever we are.
The Autumn Retreat happens in November, and starts on Thursday afternoon, ending on Sunday. It is for people who have taken the Precepts and have done at least one weekend retreat here before. In January we decide on which book to read for the next retreat and discussions are a large part of the schedule.
In April we have a similar retreat, but this one is silent except for one short Dharma talk every day. Please contact the temple if you are interested in attending the Spring or Autumn Retreat.
On Friday November 5 Day, Dee, Bert, Rev. Phoebe, Rev, Seikai and Steve (from left to right in front of Rev. M. Jiyu’s Stupa) drove up to Shasta Abbey, where we were joined by Benjamin (center) who came over from Eureka. We spent the weekend with the Shasta Abbey community and guests to remember Reverend Master Jiyu, who died 20 years ago. Several of our group had been given the Precepts by her, and it was good to show our gratitude this way.
On October 16 we had a surprise visit from Maki and Robby, who brought their 3 month old son Brumi to be blessed and see the Buddha. He was very focused and sweet, and a seed was no doubt planted in his young heart. May he have a long and happy life and bring many blessings to every being he meets.
Al Cruz, born in 1936, died on July 28, 2016, in his home in Bakersfield. We were notified of his death by one of his many nieces: Al came from a large family and grew up in Oxnard. He was a member of the Santa Barbara Buddhist Priory years before the temple moved to the Ozena Valley and became Pine Mountain Temple in 2000. Working at the former State Mental Hospital Al became friends with Dee, and introduced her to the Zen practice at the SB Priory. Al was a very regular presence at the temple, would come most weekends and attend retreats. Upon arrival he would invariably ask: “What can I do?” Later he moved to Bakersfield and continue to come until various health problems caught up with him and he could no longer make the drive. We miss Al and offer our condolences to his family and friends. Al had always spoken fondly of his practice and so his family arranged for a funeral and burial of his ashes at the temple, on October 2nd. Twenty people came and many spoke of their memories of Al’s kindness and steady example in practice. After the burial we shared a lovely potluck lunch.