2021-05-14 Stories from The Monastery Within
3:26PM May 14, 2021
So today I want to tell a few stories from a little storybook that I wrote, called the monastery within. And many other stories have to do with the abbot of the monastery. And the first one I'll tell is that the Abbess one day, called together all the new monastics of the monastery, who had been there for less than six months. And maybe at a time when maybe they start getting a little bit restless or a little bit, wondering why they're there. Or maybe even they've gotten used to the routine and maybe starting to get on board and remembering their life before the monastery, you know, it's allures and pleasures, and should call them together and said, pack your bags, because I'm going to take you on a pilgrimage to the holy sites of Buddhism. Now these monastics knew about the holy sites in India, the place where the Buddha was born, where he was enlightened, where he first taught and where he died. And he said, consider the Most Holy spake places and for tera, vaada, and Buddhists, and people do pilgrimages there and visit and so they, Oh, great, we're going on a trip. So they packed their bags ready for travel. And, and so they climbed onto the monastery bus and off they went. And first, the Abbess took them to a hospital, where they visited the sick. And they were surprised by all the different kind of sicknesses that people were struggling with there, and some pretty severe and they had a chance to go through the ICU and even the emergency room. And we've kind of almost mind boggling to see the extent of injuries and illnesses. And then back on the bus, and they went to a old age home. And they saw what for them, most of the monastics were young what seemed like the ravages of old age, people who could no longer care for themselves and who, some of them couldn't walk anymore. And some of them had all kinds of, you know, challenges and decreased capacities of all kinds and, and it was pretty impressive for this young monastics to see. And then they went back on the bus and they've Abbess took them to a hospice, where they saw people in the stages of dying, and, and some of them scared of dying, some of them kind of disconnected from the whole experience, some of them not really present anymore and semi aware, so be conscious, and all kinds of challenging ways of dying and and some that already died, and they spent time in next one next to a bed whether a corpse was lying, recently dead person. And then the minute the Abbess took them back to the monastery. And the monastery had an infirmary where there was one old sick monk and spent time with the sick monk and who seemed very present and had a certain kind of seem very tired in the illness they had. But they seem very calm and seemed like he was kind of very engaged in his practice, his Buddhist practice that he'd spent years doing and he was just continuing in bed and they could feel the sincerity and the intenseness of his engagement with his practice in his life. And he seemed like he was just as content to practice in bed as he was anywhere else. And then they went to visit a very old nun, 96 years old and in a wheelchair and but there was a sparkle of in the eyes of joy and that kind of, kind of they look closer and it seemed like her eyes were kind of marveling at the mystery of it all and the delight of it almost like she was surprised to be alive and delighted and and had no fear and no regrets and just was there and content way and this deep contentment was palpable for the new monastics. And then they went to the hospice of the monastery. And there In fact, there was a monk who was who was dying and
and there was such peace Then it becomes clear the monk was in some pain. But there was so much peace and the enter into the room and it was so peaceful and so calm, everyone got quiet. And everyone felt like they should bow deeply there was something reverent and profound about the presence of this person who'd spent decades in the monastery, practicing the level of peace and there was no iota of fear. And then the Abbess took them back to the courtyard of the monastery, and they sat down there under a big tree. And the ABA said, Now you've seen the sacred sites of Buddhism. Knowing these, practice, well, plunge into the monastic life present plunge into the practice you've come to do. And you too, will become the sacred sites of Buddhism. So that's one story. And so it's kind of sacralized is something that's common in almost every day sickness, old age and death, that can both be a catalyst for practicing for really get to the bottom of what it means to be alive and get to the bottom of the list. The origins of our suffering that we have in this life that we live and can really be also be a catalyst for waking up and finding our freedom and our peace. The second story involves a monk who was known for having a very deep, seemingly the peace and acceptance of life and, and he trust in just that and life itself. And this month, one day went one time, we went off to the edges of the monastery, the edges of the wilderness, or the forests, away from the others, where the monastery had a few meditation huts, and monastics would go out there to meditate for weeks at a time. And so he went out there. And so and, and, and there was a kind of a clearing in the woods, with a kind of grass meadow, in front of his meditation hut. And one day, you heard a deer crashing through the woods, and collapsing on the meadow in front of the is, is hot. And clearly the the deer was injured. And, and just kind of collapse there. But soon behind the deer, there came a lion and, and they said, Oh, I said the monk, you know, this, this line, I guess it's grace, maybe that's why it's injured, it was attacked by the lion, the lions gonna eat it. And the lion came along, and the deer seemed completely relaxed at ease, and just kind of their accepting, it's conditioned, almost just there and could see the lion was not afraid was not trying to get up to run away and just just was seemingly just there. And the lion came along. And the lion proceeded for the next two days to stand guard over the deer to keep it safe from other predators and whatever's there so the deer could heal well enough to get up and to you know, walk away and and that was a pretty impressive thing to see. And so the monastics said Oh, yet this is, this was an affirmation, this was like proof that my practice of deep acceptance of everything and if I just accept life, as it really is, then then life will provide the Dharma will provide things will arise and, and, but the art of it is to really accept. So some weeks later, there was a nun who was staying at a hut, not very far away. And for some reason, the hut caught on fire. And, and the monk saw that then he said, Oh, look at that. And first it was just a small little fire on the roof, and then it got bigger. And then he's nongsa because he was into this acceptance things and just allowing things and letting things arise and just watched and it was curious, we just watched
what was happening in the fire got bigger and bigger, and then he saw the nun come out of the hut, didn't try to get some water and try to put the fire out. And she got all injured in the process and but to no avail, and the whole hot burn to the ground and just with ashes, when is over, happened very quickly. And so by time that it was burned, it was only after was burned that the, the monks nuns that abis came to see what was going on. And so the Airbus came to the, to the monkey and said, What happened here? And he explained what happened? And is there a habit? or Why didn't you help? Oh, well, I was really inspired, I saw, you know, how profound it is to just accept things. And he saw what happened with the deer to explain what happened with the deer and the tiger. And they have us got angry, and said, and basically said, it's time for you to leave the monastery and return to the world. Sometimes, it's important to be the deer, and you just accept your condition. And sometimes it's important to be the lion. So you have to leave, and only come back when you know how to be the lion. so naive acceptance. Sometimes, we have to accept the fact that we are lions here to protect the world and care for the world with our strength in our power and her abilities. And that, to have a policy of acceptance and allowing and just being at peace with everything, is really to live a truncated life and denies a whole part of who we are. In a sense, we're both the deer and the lion. And don't be afraid to be either one. But do have the wisdom to know which one is appropriate at any time. So may you discover your monastery within meaning your wisdom inside your place of practice? And, and may that be a gift that you give to the world? Thank you. Oh, and then for next week. Right now I'm thinking that in some ways, I'll continue with stories for next week. But a whole different genre of stories and that is to their stories of from the Buddha's life that in our teaching stories or the context for the Buddhist teachings, and so I thought maybe it would pick some of these stories from the Buddha's life that in which appears some of the important teachings that he gives, as a way of kind of combining the teachings and, and the ancient kind of stories from the canon. So that's, that's what I'm thinking now and I look forward to our time next week.