Monday, August 29, 2005

21. Shantinayaka and Amala

I had a good retreat, even though I was craving to go on the whole retreat, and not just the weekend, and I wanted to cram a bunch in because this might be my last retreat in a long time.

Driving up alone was OK because I listened to Sangharakshita lectures. I'm in the lectures on the Gold Light Sutra, which has a chapter on confession. And I called my father in California, which was a pleasant conversation.

I wasn't the only one late, Seth and Andrew ended up not getting there till all the activities were over too. I got to talk to them on the porch when I arrived, and that was nice. I woke Bill up when I went to my room, but he was nice about it.

Here's what the web site says about the retreat:

'Meditative awareness is more akin to hearing well than seeing clearly....' (from Stephen Batchelor, Living with the Devil). On this meditation retreat we will practice Mindfulness and Brahmavihara meditations to open our awareness and refine our ability to hear the 'cries of the world', to receive life as it is with all its pain and joys. As we cultivate stillness and quiet within we discover open space in which empathy and equanimity can be developed.

The retreat will be dedicated to Avalokitesvara, quintessential Bodhisattva of compassion.

Shantinayaka was ordained 15 years ago, in 1990. He taught at the London Buddhist Centre for 5 years and then moved to the West coast of the USA, helping to run the Seattle Buddhist Center for 8 years, teacher-in-residence at the San Francisco Buddhist Center for 1 year, and now based in Vancouver B.C. Has lead a number of meditation retreats over the years based on the contemplations outlined in the Anapanasati Sutta and the Brahma Viharas.

Amala was ordained in the year 2000. She has been studying and practicing Buddhism for more than 30 years. Amala is currently Director of Aryaloka Buddhist Center where she teaches many introductory classes and leads study groups and retreats. Amala has a particular interest in meditation. She has worked intensively with foundation mindfulness practices (Anapanasati and Satipatthana) and Bodhicitta practices over the last several years.


So Amala and Shantinayaka were the leaders. We meditated at 7, 10:30, 3 and 7 with a puja to end. Amala did Saturday and Shantinayaka did Sunday. We went into silence after the afternoon sit, though I walked and talked with Sita and Andrew before I left, and hugged Alyssa.

So good company, good leaders, wonderful setting inside the retreat center and out. I went for a walk along the river and disturbed the meditation of many frogs. I actually think frogs are good meditators, they sit very still. I had some deep sits. Some good thoughts based on what Amala and Shantinayaka said. I always love the food, though I'm afraid I seasoned the food too hot for Betsy. I liked Betsy's enthusiasm. I liked Sheila's poise. Sunada was there, and I had a good conversation with her while we prepared dinner, before we went into silence. And I had a very good talk with Sita.

The drive home was wonderful because I got to know Seth better, and he drove, thus saving me some energy I'll need for today to go back to work. A lovely lovely retreat, many thanks to everyone and especially Shantinayaka and Amala.