The Orchard Sangha Newsletter The Orchard, December ‘08
New Year, New Beginnings And heartfelt wishes for a healthy, happy and abundant 2009. Traditionally the time of year for resolutions, which, also traditionally, dissipate into the mists by the end of January. Discussing with my brother the pros and cons of making resolutions we decided rather to make intentions or aspirations, which feels much softer. I would like to share with you one of mine. Each morning begins with the intention: Throughout this day may I be mindful of body, speech and mind. May all actions, words and thoughts stem from the light of compassion that illuminates the darkness and dispels all negativity. Of course, some days are more successful than others. Whilst I had hoped that mindfulness would be second nature by now (and enlightenment just around the corner!) shining the light of awareness on my mindfulness practice certainly illuminates the dusty corners. It would be great to hear of your intentions and aspirations for 2009. You never know – you may just inspire someone else’s practice!
Dear friends Wishing you a very happy and peaceful New Year. I thought I would write a few words about how I am doing health wise. My spirits are good and I have more stamina and strength. With a degenerative condition the prognostic from the medical profession is that it will keep on degenerating! However I find this not to be quite the case but progress is slow. I have been in touch with a team of acupuncturists based in California who specialise in the condition I have and offer an intensive treatment plan with a high rate of success. So Ad and I are travelling there in Jan for two weeks then there will be some follow up treatments from the same team in Amsterdam in March and June. In Feb we are going for one month vacation in Tobago, a most generous gift from one of my students, to get some real rest and to begin to learn how to be lazy! So the New Year will certainly bring some new adventures and plenty of learning. I wish to thank you for your kind thoughts and supportive wishes, they are a source of comfort and strength during this challenging time.
Warm wishes to you all Sandra
I shall get in touch again in six month’s time to tell you how things are.
Letter from Sonia
In the meantime take good care. Be well and happy.
With my love.
News from The Orchard
Reflections by Jane Sethi
We are grateful to all those who have made donations and established standing orders in 2008 and we know that there have been many acts of generosity to Sonia and Ad throughout the year.
Report from the Orchard Sangha Finance Group New Year greetings to everyone from the Finance Group (Gini Wade, Steve Felgate, Sarah Hill and Jo Lee). We began the year by renewing the three areas we had allocated money to last year: -
Those of you who have visited The Orchard this month will have noticed changes being wrought to the kitchen and the expenses for these are being covered by a very generous donation. In allocating the above funds we hope that as many people as possible will be able to take advantage of Ad and Sonia's invaluable teachings. If anyone, in these financially squeezed times, feels that they could commit to a monthly amount, however small, please get in touch with Jo by email on email@example.com or telephone 01432 890312 and she will give you details of the Orchard Sangha bank account
1. The Bursary Fund - we have brought this back up to £1,000 for the year to January 2010. There was a small take-up on this last year and we hope that more people will use it this year who otherwise could not take advantage of the workshops available. It is open to all students of Ad and Sonia and you are entitled to apply for one bursary per year while there is money in the fund, for one third of the workshop fee or personal retreat cost up to a maximum of £250 per person. For those of you who have forgotten or are so efficient that they have cleared their desks and thrown away last year's newsletter we remind you that applications for a bursary should be made in writing only to Gini on firstname.lastname@example.org (there is an underscore between gini & wade). Assuming funding is available your offer will be confirmed to you in writing and your teacher will be informed. The teachers will deduct the amount of the bursary from the fee you pay and after you have attended the workshop, we will send a cheque direct to them.
Finally, the bank balance was augmented and boosted in November by £840, the proceeds from the Autumn Fayre. So a big thank you to all who helped with that or donated items to sell. Any items which are left over, such as cards or chutney, are often sold after workshops and it was with the proceeds of one such sale that two, normally sober, members of the finance group went on a shopping spree to provide the Orchard kitchen with brightly coloured tea towels, equipment, candles and new mugs!
2. In September '08 we allocated £1,000 for the Buildings Maintenance and Gardening Voluntary groups. About £300 of this was spent before the end of the year so we have now brought this back up to £1,000 to run in conjunction with the bursary fund, from January to January. 3. £100 per month is allocated to support a long term volunteer who works on the land at The Orchard and in March we hope to increase this to fund another volunteer who is arriving from Germany and staying until the end of the year.
So you can put faces to the names you see in the newsletter we now present (l to r) Gill, Eleri, Barbara, Sarah, Jo and Gini.
Autumn Fayre The evening before the Autumn Fayre saw a hive of activity at The Orchard. The zendo was sympathetically converted to hold the sales tables and the goods on offer were of excellent quality. They included dharma books and items; jewellery; bric-a-brac; scarves; home-made chutneys, oils and jams to name but a few. Preparations at Maitreya House began on Saturday, when a stunning array of savouries, salads and cakes miraculously appeared and just as quickly disappeared at lunchtime. A steady trickle of people came, most staying for the highlights of the day: the poetry and guitar recitals. Josh went first with his guitar, performing some familiar and much-loved pieces, followed by one of his own compositions, which had come to fruition whilst he was staying at Maitreya House. It was a beautiful piece, straight from the heart. A joy to listen to from a very talented young man. Thony then delighted the gathering with poetry readings from his latest book “In Particular”. Such wonderful words that lent wings to the soul. Thony will be appearing at this year’s Ledbury Poetry Festival so if you would like more information on Thony’s poetry, or a copy of his book (priced at £12), then contact Thony Handy at: 1 The Old Rectory, Tarrington, Herefordshire HR1 4EU. To top it all a grand total of £840 was raised for sangha funds. It was, as someone remarked, a wonderful way to spend a Saturday in November.
A simple and powerful way to support Sonia and Ad It is probably something we have all thought of and done in various ways, but the idea of pooling our efforts hasn’t yet reached our newsletter. In order to support our teachers throughout 2009, we would like to suggest devoting the Tuesday 5.30 sitting meditations at the Orchard to their well-being. You may wish to join us, wherever you are, even if it is only for a moment, then the intention will be strengthened. Alternatively, any practice you do on a Tuesday could be dedicated to Sonia and Ad. We hope that knowing this day is a day of dedication will be a support to us all and help harness our healing potential for the benefit of Sonia and Ad. May you be well and happy. Pat and Jane
Supporting The Orchard On-going help is needed with practical aspects of maintaining and developing The Orchard as a retreat centre (you can read more about ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ in the last newsletter). During the autumn a core team of 8 volunteers made a good start on maintenance and gardening jobs, to be continued during this coming year. There are monthly maintenance weekends, for people who like to be with others, and ad hoc arrangements can be made for those who prefer to work alone in their own time. There is always someone around to practise together or for company, if you want it. Accommodation is free and food will normally be provided. The seasonal programme of Reflective Gardening working weekend workshops resumes at the spring equinox, when you can also enjoy Tim Jones’ wonderful Voice performance (details follow). In the meantime experienced gardeners are required for re-planting areas of the paddock around the Zendo. And all kinds of help are needed with getting the newly renovated Orchard students’ kitchen ready for the 2009 programme of teaching. Diary • Maintenance weekend: 28 February - 1 March • Reflective Gardening workshop ‘Weeding with Awareness’: 21-22 March (spring equinox) • Maintenance and gardening weekend: 4-5 April • Maintenance and gardening weekend: 2-3 May (festival of Beltane, the beginning of summer) • Reflective Gardening workshop ‘Appreciating Midsummer’: 13-14 June • Maintenance weekend: 4-5 July Dates for the second half of the year will follow, when the teaching programme becomes available. Do join us, sometime this year. For more information and to book or arrange a visit contact Gill on tel: 01981 241315 or at email@example.com
You may already have heard from us but we just can’t resist reminding you of the wonderful event that we are privileged to be hosting at The Orchard. It is a pleasure to invite you to come to The Orchard for an evening of 'Musical Rasalila' with tandj on 21st March 2009. A group of us enjoyed a fantastic voice workshop with Tim in the Summer and are delighted that he and Jon are providing the Sangha with this wonderful opportunity to hear them perform. You will see from the above that we are advising early booking to avoid disappointment. With this in mind, if you would like to purchase tickets in advance or to arrange overnight accommodation at The Orchard, please contact : Sarah on 01452 741603 - firstname.lastname@example.org - or Gill on 01981 241315 - email@example.com We very much hope that you will be able to join us and look forward to hearing from you. If you are able to help us with the event in any way then volunteers are needed to organise and prepare refreshments, prepare the Zendo and take tickets on the door, as well as the invaluable “gofers” – all offers of help will be gratefully received by Sarah - contact details as above.
Future Events Inspired by the forthcoming tandj performance and the Autumn Fayre it is intended to hold Summer and Autumn events at The Orchard. Once details are finalised further information and dates will be sent out. One thought is to hold a Summer Festival, with students offering music, poetry readings, story telling etc. If you have any ideas then please step forward and chat with a Sangha member. We would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Meanwhile, if you are interested in helping as a crew member then do please get in touch with Sarah – contact details above and on the back page.
INSPIRATIONS – Rinpoche’s Story As part of a collection of stories by Namgyal Rinpoche's students about their personal experience with him which illustrate the many facets of this exceptional teacher, I was asked to write a contribution which I now share with you: Long before I was to meet the Venerable Namgyal Rinpoche I heard of a tall Canadian monk from my first teacher John Garrie Roshi through a story which impressed me a lot at the time. Little did I know then that decades later I would be at the receiving end of similar exchanges, being in fact a mode of communication our teacher used. The story that J.G. Roshi told was, during a retreat in England led by N.R then known as bikkhu Ananda Boddhi, a conversation between the two of them took place at night during sleep/dream time. N.R was ‘standing’ at the end of John Garrie’s bed and asked him ‘what do you want for breakfast, cornflakes or weetabix?’ Come breakfast time N.R turned to J.G and said ‘it was weetabix, wasn’t it?’ to which he replied ‘No, cornflakes!’ This type of communication, these mind exchanges between N.R and his students were I believe common. Over the years I have worked with N.R and especially during the one-year retreat I undertook in 2001 in Canada, many times I was in communication with N.R in this way. There is no doubt that this is how N.R was able to communicate individually and simultaneously with a large group of students all gathered to listen to his teaching and be in his presence. Imagination? Illusion? N.R could be quite specific and practical like in the story with Roshi as to leave you in no doubt that some words had been exchanged without even needing to voice them aloud or even be in the same room! One simply heard N.R’s voice very clearly, for example, asking you to pass the water or to close a door or giving you his preference as to what sort of accommodation he’ll require when next in England. I remember during one of those wonderful evening events at his home to raise money for the Dharma Centre when Rinpoche ‘asked’ me without needing to move his lips or even look in my direction to pass a plate of food around. As I ‘heard’ clearly the words I stood up and reached for the plate glancing at him for some reassurance that I had ‘heard’ correctly. I was then met with a very satisfied smile from N.R! His ability to communicate in this way was also how he knew in detail what was going on in one’s practice. During an insight retreat I was alone in my cabin practising a particular aspect and meeting some difficulty. The following day Rinpoche looked directly at me and told me how to approach this quite specific point yet I had not spoken to him, I was merely inquiring in the privacy of my own mind or so I thought! In this same retreat I was practicing the slow walking in my cabin, naming each movement of the foot and leg like raising, lifting, moving, dropping, touching and placing as instructed. At both ends of the walking path I practised standing and noting where the intention of moving came from, the body or the mind, then continued with the naming of turning. I was breaking down the action of turning in many small movements accompanied with the naming. The next day in class Rinpoche told me that it was not necessary to do it like that, simply to name turning, as one movement was enough! How did he know I was doing it in such detail? The list is endless and all ‘conversations’ could be verified. It was a wondrous form of intimacy in communication so clear, so direct and consistent, so unencumbered also so scary. In his presence I had to be careful or mindful of what I’d think or wish for as in my experience all wholesome wishes I made in his presence were fulfilled. Similarly all my shortcomings were exposed vividly.
Do I dare use language to describe this oh so fine ability of an Enlightened Mind? His was the pure state of Dharmakaya, a clear, luminous Mind from which there is nothing to hide, nothing to add or take away, just surrendering and allowing one’s mind to fuse with the Teacher’s Mind in Bliss and Emptiness. This was the biggest teaching I received and am still receiving from N.R as although his physical presence is no longer here, his voice is still manifesting clearly. The last time I heard N.R’s voice clearly was in ‘07 when I began a long life practice, the Mandarava sadhana. Rinpoche gave me clear and lengthy instructions on how to find the Mandarava lake. At the time I did not know that there was a Mandarava lake!” New: Some of Sonia’s teachings are being put on to CD’s and will become available in March. Costs to be announced. Titles: CD-1: Flowering the Mind of Loving Kindness (1 CD) CD-2: Peace to All Beings Meditation (1 CD) CD-3: Medicine Buddha Meditation: a set of 3 CD’s including: Medicine Buddha Meditation; Explanation of Text; and Tom Thumb Blue Healer Meditation. A second set has the Medicine Buddha Meditation with a German Translation
PROGRAMME 2009 AT A GLANCE with Sonia Moriceau To July 2009 The Orchard th
Please Note: A Programme for the second half of 2009 will be available in July
26 (eve) – 31 March: - Insight Meditation -Kusala rd 23 (eve) – 28th April - Insight Meditation – Instant Presence st 21 (eve) – 26th May - Purification with the Five Elements th st th 16 – 21 /26 July - Awakening the Healing Potential Within. Medicine Buddha Retreat Switzerland th
8 – 14 April - Bringing the Mind Home th th 28 Sept. – 4 October - Medicine Buddha Retreat Info: www.felsentor.ch th
10 – 15th October - Five Elements and how to transform destructive emotions Info: www.vegetarisches-hotel.ch For ALL BOOKINGS in Switzerland: contact Sabine Isler on firstname.lastname@example.org Germany th
12 – 14th June in Berlin - Healing the healer Contact: email@example.com 16th – 21st June at Pegasus - Bringing the mind home Contact: www.schule-fuer-shiatsu.de or firstname.lastname@example.org
e: email@example.com www.soniamoriceau.org
After a week, I felt very steady. Wise warrior images came up strongly for me in a specific meditation Sonia had recommended I practised daily on cultivating the strengths. One recurring theme I found I was often working with was the issue of when to be sharper and when to be gentler; how to recognise distracted, unconscious patterns and how to bring myself back home or how to recognise when I felt raw and needed to soften, be more allowing. I also became increasingly curious about what happens at the point we realise we are distracted but still there is a resistance holding us from coming back to the body and from being present. On the other hand, and often in times of confusion and inner conflict, coming back to the body was a relief and a refuge. I felt I was resting on all the practice I had ever done in finding ways to gently encourage myself to come back to the sensations of the direct experience no matter what arose.
Reflections by Jane Sethi As I reflect back now nearly three months later on my October retreat, I feel an enormous sense of gratitude – to Sonia for suggesting it, to the Orchard and the Sangha for supporting it, to the practice I’ve done over the years and to the teachings I have received which made it possible. I was at a point in my life where I was unable to see clearly what the next step was. Sonia advised me that, when we have an important decision to make, it is helpful to go into retreat whilst not searching for an answer during that time. In this way we return to a place of calm and are better placed to ask the question. And so I embarked on a three-week silent retreat, following the retreatant’s daily programme, practising, taking meals and sleeping alone in my cabin. I received huge support from Sonia who laid out the conditions that would support me and from the sangha who ensured my silence was protected, shopped for me, respected my space and supported my practice. All this enabled me to go deeper quicker into the practice.
Once calm was established in the body, it was a time to go deeper and begin the practice of watching the mind and the activities of mind. Using naming to bring the mind back to the here and now, in this practice I began to find and know the still point of the mind from where I could witness its movements without being swept away. I became increasingly aware that there was an inner posture in the body and in the mind associated with this, which I could then use as a point of reference.
Although the programme did not change throughout the three weeks, the focus and the intent did. Initially and as always when at the Orchard, the focus was on mindfulness of the “body in the body”; becoming more settled, more grounded, quieter.
It was a time of learning to use the mind more wisely, of allowing thoughts and feelings to just be there, of daring to let myself feel the unpleasant without fear of identification. It was a very simple practice and at times not at all easy, but a training in learning to really trust the practice, of being creative, of connecting with deep aspirations and of opening up to the sheer joy of the practice. And briefly, although I had not thought about my “life questions” at all during those three weeks, it did become very clear to me what the next step was and included in this was a stronger and clearer commitment to the practice and a strengthening of my motivations and intentions. On a final note, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude once again to Sonia and Ad for their guidance and also to John and to the Sangha for their support.
I spent time in nature every day – clear, sunny, warm October days – finding and carving a piece of wood, which would become my staff and close companion. And my activity time importantly always involved something grounding, so I was up trees picking apples or gathering the fallen autumn leaves in the orchard paddock.
May all beings be well and happy. Jane ane
Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow …. Even today I am still arriving. Look deeply: every second I am arriving To be a bud on a Spring branch, To be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings, Learning to sing in my new nest, To be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower, To be a jewel hiding itself in a stone. I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry, To fear and to hope. The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death of all that is alive. I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river. I am the bird that swoops down to swallow the mayfly. I am the frog swimming happily in the clear water of a pond. And I am the grass-snake that silently feeds itself on the frog. I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones, my legs as thin as bamboo sticks. And I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda. I am the twelve-year old girl refugee on a small boat, Who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate. And I am the sea pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving. I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hands. And I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to my people, Dying slowly in a forced-labour camp. My joy is like Spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth. My pain is like a river of tears, so vast it fills the four oceans. Please call me by my true names, so I can hear all my cries and my laughter at once, So I can see that my joy and pain are one. Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up and so that door of my heart can be left open, The door of compassion. Thich Nhat Hanh
Offers of assistance - Gill - firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01981 241315 Helping at Events and Cards - Sarah on email@example.com Bursary Fund - Gini at firstname.lastname@example.org Finance - Jo on email@example.com or on 01432 890312 Website - Tony on firstname.lastname@example.org or 17 Goodwood Mansions, Stockwell Park Walk, London SW9 0XY. Newsletter - Sandra - for comments and contributions – at email@example.com or on 013873 70787 (and if there is anyone out there with DTP skills who would like to offer their services to the newsletter, please do get in touch!)
Published on Jan 13, 2010