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On reflection after the retreat ...

Buddha Root Farm Avatamsaka Retreat

 

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Sharing dharma 

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Sharing stories 

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Sharing a song 

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Lunch time

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Interview with Lacy 

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Interview with Linh 

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Interview with Tomas

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Interview with Prajna

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On reflection after the retreat ...

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One of the Ten Inexhaustible Treasuries is that of Giving.  On reflection after the retreat, this treasury was the one that made a deep impression on me when I heard DM Heng Sure lectured on it.  The Bodhisattva Mahasattva is able to give on many levels.  For example, he is able to give external wealth, internal wealth, and both external and internal wealth.  For external wealth, when a poor, lowly, emaciated person came and asked the Wheel Turning King for all of his possessions, he is able to give it to this person and not to just this person but to anyone who asks him.  He is not only able to give it away but he is also happy that he has the opportunity to give.  For internal wealth, he is able to give up his blood, heart, eyes, ears, nose, any part of his body if someone comes and asks for it.  For the giving of both internal and external wealth, if a person came and asks the King to give him all his possessions and also asks the King to be a servant, the King would be happy to give up everything and also be a servant.  Why is the Bodhisattva Mahasattva able to do this?  It is because he has this contemplation.  He knows that external and internal wealth are all impermanent and when he dies, it will all perish as well.  At that time, it will be of no benefit to him or to living beings.   Since all things are impermanent and do not last, he then is able to give to living beings to benefit them and he is delighted that he has the opportunity to give to them.  During the Oregon Retreat, we saw many examples of giving.  The DMs gave us the most valuable gift, the gift of Dharma.  DM Heng Sure, DM Heng Yi, DM Jing Ping, and DM Jing Pei all gave us Dharma talk during lunchtime.  They praised the young audience as having good roots because they encounter the Buddhadharma at such a young age.  They exhorted everyone to vigorously cultivate and don't let time pass by or wait until you are old to cultivate.  Everyone was filled with Dharma Joy after listening to the lectures.  The laypeople also got a chance to practice giving.  They gave food, money, time and effort.  

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Buddha Root Farm Avatamsaka Retreat  

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For the past few years, each summer the Dharma Realm Buddhist Youth (DRBY) puts together a week-long sutra and meditation retreat in Buddha Root Farm, located by Reedsport, Oregon, and nestled in Turtle Mountain. There was more youth than in previous years (more than half of the group was under the age of 21) and so they brought with them a very lively and spirited energy to the retreat. The sutra topic was The Ten Inexhaustible Treasuries Chapter from the Avatamsaka Sutra and so for twice a day every day, everyone made the trek up the mountain to the Buddha Hall to hear Dharma Master Heng Sure talk about the Treasuries of Belief, Precepts, Shame, Remorse, Learning, Giving, Wisdom, Mindfulness, Upholding, and Eloquence.  Aside from the sutra lectures there were about five possible meditation sits throughout the day, punctuated with meals, group discussions, and excursions and activities for those who were not up for meditation.  Being as Buddha Root Farm is located right in the woods and the famous Oregon sand dunes, most of the activities were outdoors, such as the youth roundtable held in (yes, in) the Smith River, the trip to the dunes and the Pacific Ocean, a hike on the back of the Turtle, and a whole afternoon trek to the beautiful Kentucky Falls.

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Quite a few of the attendees were from the Berkeley Monastery and they also formed much of the kitchen staff. For every meal there would always be so many different types of food, and for each lunch a new Vietnamese dish would be served, be it pho, bun rieu, curry, or bun bi.  The kitchen was also a juncture for teamwork; there would always be people to volunteer to help prepare the meals or clean up, and although usually only two or three people were assigned to help, a trip inside the kitchen would reveal a throng of people, all of whom would actually want to help wash the dishes!

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Considering how it was the woods, most of the group camped outdoors in tents located right by the Buddha Hall while the others slept in the half-can, the facility which also housed the dining room and kitchen. Some memories of the good 'ole outdoors include the late-night bug scares, the snoring coming from nearby tents, the mid-night walks to the bathroom, the dewdrops that would trickle onto the tents in the early mornings, and the fresh air that is definitely not found in the cities.

Overall the retreat was definitely a success, especially thanks to the hard work that the DRBY put in. Many of them had gone up earlier to clean up and set up the Buddha Hall and campsites, and stayed later to make sure that everything was put away and in order.  

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Along with Dharma Master Heng Sure, there were three other monks there, all of whom graced us with their presence and should be credited for all the work that they have done on BRF. Matt and Pip, both of whom are like the Dharma Protectors at BRF, were also there, always giving rides up and down the mountain and ensuring that we were all safe, sound, and comfortable. Bill wasn't with us this year but we all must thank him for buying the property and inviting the Venerable Master all those years ago. A thank you must also go out to all the cooks and attendees who came together to provide food for the body and the soul and allowed for a trip that no one will soon forget. 

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Last but not least, much gratitude must be given to Silver the dog, the BRF Dharma Protector who never failed to follow everyone to make sure they got to their campsite at night, and to guard the Buddha Hall during the ceremonies and lectures.

A week surely does fly by when you're having fun, and we all wait eagerly for next year's Buddha Root Farm retreat!

 

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