Community Highlights

Triratna America - Total Immersion in California

On Mon, 17 June, 2013 - 16:02
viveka's picture
One week from today, I’ll be packing my car and driving with Tejananda 1.5 hours south to the Santa Cruz Mountains to lead a one-month Total Immersion silent meditation retreat. 35 Order members and Mitras are ‘going forth’ from their daily lives in the US, Mexico, UK, Spain, Japan. For one month we will live as a close-knit community of the Buddha’s disciples. Our abode will be among redwood trees, mountain ridges with glimpses of the Pacific Ocean, vultures overhead, hidden rattlesnakes and mountain lions and the generous residents of Jikoji Zen Retreat Center sharing their home with us.

As chair of The San Francisco Buddhist Center (SFBC), I’ve wanted Triratna to offer deep collective meditation retreats in the U.S. There is also a need to encourage going forth in a cultural context that is increasingly fast-pased, distracting, and demanding. We launched the first month-long in 2010 and committed to continue them. I feel those sitting long retreats not only go deeper in their own practice but also keep alive the tradition of committed spiritual aspirants going into the mountains to see for themselves what the Buddha discovered.

For three women the act of going forth will be a very prominent aspect of their retreat. Nancy Anding (San Francisco), Vicki Oyadomari (Seattle), and Elaine Ward (originally Vancouver, now San Francisco) will have their private ordination ceremonies on the retreat with me as their private preceptor. Karunadevi will conduct their public ordinations the last day of the retreat back at the SFBC where family and friends will be eagerly assembled to witness their entry into the Order and lives committed to the spiritual path as Dharmacharinis (literally dharma farers).

Tonight the San Francisco sangha had a send-off celebration for Elaine and Nancy (left and right in the picture). Lots of rejoicing in our friends and a fun spoofy song sung by Padmatara!

We are fortunate to have three such vibrant women entering into the Order. They are determined, intelligent, generous, and bring tremendous integrity. Another newly ordained San Franciscan Dharmachari who is still on retreat at Guhyaloka, Spain will be joining them in July. Mike Osgood was given the name Vimalamoksa, meaning Pure Liberation, by his private preceptor Shantinayaka.

Earlier in June, on a Generation X (born 1960-1980) cross-tradition gathering of 60 teachers of Buddhadharma in the West, I found myself frequently sharing the impact of Triratna’s emphasis on the practice of spiritual friendship and how transformational it can be. It is hard to find adequate words to express the sense of love and appreciation I hold for Vimalamoksa, Nancy, Elaine and Vicki. They have been my teachers - a source of inspiration, challenge, and engaging inquiry and who have carried me along as we’ve grown together. The insight that we do not exist independently as separate entities and of dependent origination are plainly obvious through our sustained connections.

In mid-July, I will be remembering, with gratitude, Sangharakshita, our Triratna sangha and all beings as I sit in the ordination hut waiting for each of the ordinands to make her way down the wooded path one by one.

My hut lies in the middle of a dense forest;
Every year the green ivy grows longer.
No news of the affairs of men,
Only the occasional song of a woodcutter.
The sun shines and I mend my robe;
When the moon comes out I read Buddhist poems.
I have nothing to report my friends.
If you want to find the meaning, stop chasing after
so many things.
- Ryokan
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