Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Touching Earth Sanga One Day Retreat at Kailash Eco-Village 12/26/15

The day after Christmas, about 10 of us gathered for a Zen-style retreat at Kailash Eco Village. It was co-facilitated by Satya Vayu, and Shinei Sara Monial- both original founders of the Touching Earth sangha. Shinei is now a zen priest at Great Vow Monastery, up in Clatskanie Oregon. Several other folks from the monastery also attended, it was a great connecting time for all. We began at 9am with some sitting(meditation), a little walking and qigong and a dharma talk, before we went inside for lunch. It was a pretty nippy 38 degrees out, so it was a welcome respite from the cold!

Our meal was served in oryoki style, which is a rather formal, silent meditative approach to sharing a meal...it was well-received I think. I know I enjoyed the calm, attentive focus on the delicious food. We had brown sticky rice, steamed squash, tofu stir fry, fresh greens from the Great Vow garden, all drizzled in a creamy tahnini sauce....yum!

After the meal, we went outside again to sit together, and then had a lengthy "satsang"(focused conversation)  about what spiritual practice is actually for. We touched upon such themes related to Buddhist principles, as well as how to function as a beautiful, beneficial Bodhisattva in today's world. A lot of these topics are covered in this 50 page essay by Satya.

How, then shall we Live?

Also, many of the same themes expressed can be heard via several dozen dharma talk recordings hosted on Archive.org.

Touching Earth Sangha Dharma Talks

After the talk, we came back inside the community room, and prepared a more informal meal, having the ability to converse, after observing silence during most of the retreat.

There was also an interesting development regarding Great Vow and veganism. As a monastery, they are vegetarian(eggs/dairy), but one of their members was curious as to know more about veganism, and was looking for resources to share with the community. This would be a pretty major deal if they did shift soon....not many monasteries are currently vegan. Of course , I would advocate this wholeheartedly as there is massive suffering(health/environmental/ethical) even on a vegetarian diet. A couple of our Brooklyn Collective members (staunch vegans) are practicing up there for a few months, so I am hopeful there will be some kind of knowledge imparted...for the sake of all beings.

I am very grateful for the intention and purpose of the gathering...it was a splendid end to 2015, and a wonderful reminder of how much Touching Earth, Zen and associated practice, has had such a profound impact on my life path.

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