Tuesday 3 April 2012: Cittaviveka - Chithurst Monastery
Our outing today took us to Chithurst Buddhist Monastery, in the Theravadan tradition.. Not really an outing as we only live 2 miles away and go fairly frequently for its peace, quiet and stillness.
The monastery was established in 1979 in an old rambling house which has lovely gardens full of blossom, and cloisters round a pond. The dharma hall was finished 2004 in the Sussex style, a wonderful piece of craftsmanship. It can seat up to 150 people although monks in residence vary between 20-25. This number is swelled by visitors to courses and events. The hall's many purposes include not only silent [and sometimes walking] meditation, but talks and teachings, and the monks even take their daily meal in the hall. Respect for food and the eating of it is all but lost in western society. The dharma hall is the most tranquil place I know.
Theravadan Buddhism is based on the original beliefs and practices of the Buddha and the early monastic Elders, and is quite simple and plain. There are few embellishments such as you find in Tibetan monasteries. It is the Buddhism of Thailand among other places. These quotes embody , for me, something of its meaning, though they are not necessarily Theravadan or even Buddhist in origin.
Quaker belief: "The Inner Light in every man."
"The nature of Zen lies in one thing alone, namely seeing the Buddha nature in each person."
"Inside each one of us a human spirit lives alone, intensely individual, perfectly formed no matter how imperfect the mind or body housing it might be."
"Let go of that which is in front,
let go of that which has already gone,
and let go of the in-between.
With a heart that takes hold nowhere
you arrive at the place beyond all suffering."
"The whole essence of truth cannot be described by any pen ..... unless man finds its response in the sanctuary of his own heart, in the innermost depths of his divine intuition."
"The teacher gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and lovingness"
"Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule."