Earlier in the year we reported that we were hoping to do an event based on a practice they do at Chithurst Monastery called Forest Month. We decided to only do a week, and call it Forest Practice. It was billed as a period of time to focus on a work project while having a lot of emphasis on Dhamma practice. We also were planning to work with our Christian neighbors at Mt Tabor.
For the week between April 29th – May 7th eleven people from Abhayagiri (4 residents and 7 guests) plus several volunteers from Mt Tabor Monastery participated in this event. The week involved camping and living simply (solar showers, pit toilets, eating and meditating out doors). Most people camped, though we did have access to several cabins thanks to the monks at KPY (our other monastic neighbors on the ridge). One of these cabins became our camp kitchen. Special thanks to Ryan for being our kitchen manager and guarding the kitchen at night from hungry bears!
The main job we accomplished was clearing dead brush and widening a dirt road that we share with Mt Tabor. This work was vital to help create a firebreak and improved access to this beautiful part of the monastery. The road had become so over-grown it was difficult to drive it without doing damage to our truck.
We had several group meditations each day and another period was devoted to listening to Dhamma talks and having discussions about the 5 hindrances. We also did several educational events, Susan Seitz, her husband Gary and her friend Matt lead an herbal tour of our forest and Father Damian offered a lighthearted lecture about the use of icons in eastern Orthodox tradition. We also took a day trip to visit the redwoods and the ocean.
This was the first “retreat” we’ve even had at Abhayagiri, and though the logistics of camping on the ridge and having some challenging weather conditions, it ended up being a great experience. Thanks to everybody who helped.
Here is a link to some photos taken during the week: