Forest Monastery Project and Earth Sila Week

Through a wonderful convergence of a number of causes and conditions, we will have two monks, Ajahn Jayanto and his attendant Tan Caganando, with us on the first Monday in October, which is the 7th. These monks are part of a group of lay and monastic practitioners, who are currently in the process of searching for land in Northern New England to establish what will be the Jeta Grove Monastery. The monks are ordained in the Western Order of the Ajahn Chah tradition of Thai Forest Buddhism. The international, primary lay-based Buddhist Insight tradition, of which Valley Insight Meditation Society is a part, continues to be deeply influenced by this Theravadan monastic tradition.

Information on Ajahn Jayanto’s teachings in the Boston area can be found here: www.kalyanamittasangha.wordpress.com

This year Buddhist Insight Sanghas around the world are recognizing the first week in October as a time to address environmental concerns, especially global warming, in the light of the Buddha Dhamma. The Forest Monks are directly connected to the early Buddhist teachings and lifestyle, which are very much grounded in nature. According to tradition, the origin of the Brahma-vihara practices of cultivating kindness, compassion, empathetic joy and equanimity arose from monks asking the Buddha for guidance for living at peace with the “tree spirits.”  Living in harmonious relationship with all sentient beings and the earth itself is at the heart of the Buddha’s teaching.

In keeping with this environmental focus, the monks will address the strong contemporary relevance to our practice and to our lives, held in the Buddha’s initial suggestion to his followers:  “Go into the forest, to the root of a tree; sit down, legs folded, body held erect; and bring mindfulness to the forefront of mind.” They will also talk about the history of the Forest Monk lineage and why they are currently looking for a forest to come into relationship with and to care for here in New England.

Two Dhamma talks on this subject were given recently by a lay teacher many of us are familiar with, Gil Fronsdal, who spent time as a monk in Thailand. They might be of interest to you as we approach both the monks’ visit and our focus on Earth Sila. They were given on August 11 and 12 of this year, and can be found at www.audiodharma.org.

The monks’ visit is being coordinated with our friends at Vermont Insight Meditation Center. They will be teaching there on Sunday the 6th of October starting at 10 a.m.   We are welcome to attend.  There will be a lunch and discussion following the morning practice time.

The monks will then be driven to our area where they will spend one or two nights.  Housing and transportation to Lebanon on Sunday are already arranged.  They will be at our gathering at the Friends’ Meeting House on that Monday evening (the regular Monday sit, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.).  The schedule and logistics of their day on Monday before the talk are still in the works.  We’d like to make them available to whomever is interested and will definitely be sending more information on that day as it shapes up.  A few people have already let us know they can help out.  If you’d like to be involved, please let me know: Doreen.schweizer@valley.net

Many thanks to Julie Puttgen and Tom Breslin of VIMS and to Paul Rodrigue and others at VTMC, as well as to Ajahn Jayanto and Tan Caganando, for their interest in, work towards, and commitment to this visit.

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