Meeting Fa Yun Sisters

法雲雜誌第九期

Meeting the Fa Yun Sisters

Our teacher is Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese monk who taught peace and non-violence throughout the Vietnam Conflict. We had just returned from a week-long retreat with him and 900 adherents in San Diego, California when we became aware that our new neighbor was the Fa Yun Institute and Monastery in Vadito. Part of our retreat was visiting the new Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, Ca. and we were trying to find a way to return frequently to practice with the monastics there. What an unexpected gift it was to have Fa Yun move so very close to home!

From the first visit, we found a community of warm, kind nuns who opened their arms to us and welcomed our participation in Thursday and Sunday services. The Sisters patiently explained their practice, which was different and difficult to learn since it was in Chinese. But they have provided us with a translation of the Chinese liturgy and tapes of the chanting so we are able to slowly learn the services and participate more fully. They share their approach to Buddhist practice so we understand what is similar to Mindfulness practice. And always, they are kind, cheerful and welcoming.

Practicing with the community is such a blessing for us as it is a distance to the closest Sangha of our tradition and it is so small that they are unable to have regular Dharma talks or chanting. Living in our mountains we are isolated from a routine practice with others. Weekly chanting and meditating with Fa Yun enhances our daily personal practice and infuses our days with increased attention to consistent mindfulness. Our connection with Fa Yun has greatly deepened our understanding of the importance of the Third Jewel, Sangha. We have found support for our practice which deepens its meaning. We have found a community that lives its practice daily which is an example for us to follow.

The collective energy in the evening service is greater than the number of individuals chanting. We become part of the collective gratitude and meditation which expands beyond each individual and the room of individuals to join with all other practitioners in seeking the release of suffering for all sentient beings. Service with Fa Yun gives us a sense of deeper connection to the purpose and practice of the Dharma. Our awakening deepens.

Being close to Fa Yun has allowed us to increase our knowledge of the Buddhist Path. The nuns are always helpful in answering our questions about the practice and their continuous learning and deep knowledge of the sutras and practice is a wonderful resource for our learning. They are so willing to share their understanding and practice with us that we don't hesitate asking again and again.

Fa Yun Impressions

Lotus greeting

Gentle smiles of compassionate understanding,

Awareness of small details for another's comfort,

Warm friendship with helpful guidance

Cheerful attention to chores Delicate sister with powerful chainsaw

On firewood duty!

Enthusiastic sharing of the Master's presence

Quiet grace and focused energy

Beautiful Dharma voices singing Buddha's Sangha.

Bowing

To the Three Jewels

My heart is full

Of gratitude.

We look forward to a long relationship of learning and practice with our new neighbors. Thank you. Amitabha!

(Editor's note : Carl Struck and Johanne Riddick are neighbors of Fa Yun ──'through the woods'── where Carl crafts wood into furniture, doors and other objects. He also is a songwriter/musician and works towards community unity. Johanne is a nurse who focuses on working with at risk young people with a passion for gardening. Both have taken the Buddhist precepts in the tradition of the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh after practicing in several different traditions of Buddhism and Sufism.)