Ranuka Manamendra

Georgia Buddhist Vihara’s  Youth Retreat to Commemorated the 2,600thAnniversary of the Buddha’s Awakening (May 28,29,30 & 31, 2011)

Diary of a Dhamma Brother
By Ranuka Manamendra

Day 1

I got to the temple around 7:30. Within me I felt a sort of confusion, because I had no idea what would take place. It felt weird to have my parents bow down to me and in all honesty, when Bhante asked how we felt after taking the dhasa-sil. I felt confused.

I found out today that sitting in the same position will be my biggest trouble. It was hard meditating in a criss-cross position though I did gain some spiritual value from it. I was slightly disappointed that I couldn't eat after 12:00 noon.  The  work period was enjoyable because I helped Bhante reorganize the Buddha statues that were catching dust. Then we went to the Cambodian Temple. I learned  about the High Ordinance ceremony and learned what was culturally significant about the temple. It's red color stands for luck. One aspect I noticed in all Buddhist temples was that vast variety of fruit trees were planted.

Day 2

I wish I could have waken up at 6:30 instead of 4:30. It was very stressful on my eyes but the early morning meditation helped ease this.Today I realized walking meditation was my forte. It helped me concentrate on the task at hand, which was to block out my defilements. Metta meditation, ( loving-kindness meditation) helped clear my mind.  For today's work-period I helped Bhante plant a tree.  A tiring job, but I enjoyed using the ramrod to break up the dirt. For the personal reading time, I started reading You &Your Problems by Dr. K Sri Dhammaranda. A book explaining world-problems through a Buddhist perspective. We discussed about the different feelings humans experience as a result of our faculties. An example in Vedananau Passana (feelings) is sad  and happiness, neither sad nor happiness. When we have the object that we crave, we experience momentary pleasure, but since  all things in life are impermanent we will feel unhappiness as a result of it.

We visited the Vietnamese temple, today. It was by far, the most impressive temple I have seen. At the entrance is a huge lily pad pond, and a Laughing Buddha. Its amazing to see that a culture can transform a religion to fit there perspective. For an example the Buddha in the shrine room had oriental qualities to it. Something I noticed was that the Vietnamese temple kept the ashes of their dead in the temple. They also had a pen of peacocks in the yard. Something really peculiar they had was an albino peacock. A rare sight that my eyes don't get to see. After that we helped setup the Atavisi Budhdha Puja. Our timing has certainly improved. It was lights out after that. I really I can get some sleep this time.

Day 3

Waking up at 5 was slightly relaxing. The early-meditation this time was much better. I was able to concentrate on my breathing technique, though I had to stretch out my legs every 7 minutes. During Vipassana Meditation Bhante taught us the core concepts of meditation. I had another successful walking meditation period again today.

After lunch we helped Bhante plant another tree. Our sutta discussion today was really interesting. It was a discussion about poverty (Ina Sutta). We visited the Thai temple today. This is our last temple visit. The Thai temple was a lavish, comfortable group of log cabins. I learned the Thai tradition where laitys became monks for brief periods of time. The impact of cultural assimilation where one ethnic group adopts the religion or culture with there own changes is still evident today when you visit different Buddhist temples.

The Dhamma talk today was enjoyable. We discussed about what different philosophers said about Buddhism. I was felt bad when I heard that non Buddhist preachers would use Buddhists teachings without crediting the Buddha. After the temple, we did the Atavisi Buddha Puja. It was done in record time today and we finished the schedule thirty minutes ahead of time. I enjoy this lifestyle, it is a pleasing one because it is so simple, but I doubt I could follow it due to the sleeping schedule (9:00 pm. To 4:00 am.). It's hard to put in to words ,what I learned & felt .But for sure , now I have a much better perspective and a view regarding Buddhism. I don't think I could effectively explain everything I learned these 3 days. It was a great deal of Dhamma knowledge. I found a new respect regarding all the bhantes who follow this hard schedule.

Day 4

Yesterday Bhante picked me and Mathishka to prepare breakfast, lunch and the Buddha puja. So I had to wake up at 4:30 in the morning. I took a shower and my routine procedures. Then me and Mathishka helped set up the plates. We sadly didn't do walking meditation today. It was an eventful day, because I did a lot of dish-washing and bathroom cleaning. After that we discussed suttas. We  finished the Dighajanu Sutta and the Sigalovvada Sutta. The Buddha's advice in financial areas is invaluable even though he did not pursue a life of prosper and wealth. How Buddha acutely explained every small detail in each sutta, amazes me. I feel as if we packed three months of Sunday school in four days.

Final Conclusions about the 4 Day retreat

-After listening to Bhante for these four days my respect for him has increased.

-I am proud to call myself a Buddhist.

-I kind of understand what kind of happiness you can gain by living a simple life.

Nuwan Perera

Day 1

Today was the beginning of our Dhamma immersion experience, and I am not sure what to expect. We did not follow the entire schedule because we took Das Sil at ten, so we skipped what will probably be the hardest part, waking up at five! After we took Das sil we had lunch, where the parents served us and worshipped us. However, I felt more relaxed when everyone else left so that we could start the program in earnest. When we are surrounded by noise and distraction our mind naturally follows, and as everyone else left the temple my mind became calmer and more focused. In our Dhamma talk we discussed Sutra, including one featuring a common character in Sutra tales the wealthy householder Anathapindika. In the discourse the Buddha gave to his lay supporter, he outlined the pleasures and pitfalls that come with living the sensual life of a lay person, and as with the majority of the Buddha’s teachings, they were completely applicable 2600 years later. In the evening, we visited the Cambodian temple where Ven. Wajirabuddhi lived before he came to GBV, and undoubtedly the main attraction was the Sima  (boundary) , where monks attain higher ordination. The layout is very specific, with 8 balls placed around the building (Sima Malaka  Sima  to mark the boundary. Although we did not go inside, we could see the vivid colors and materials that they had in the shrine room, and we also saw the beautiful architecture and decoration of the exterior.

Day 2

I had a very good sleep today, one of the best I have had in a long time. Despite sleeping on concrete with nothing more than a sleeping bag, I woke up at five well rested and ready for the day, which didn’t happen often, even on the days where I would emerge from slumber past noon! We meditated at 5.30, essentially in the dark, and I did not fall asleep, which admittedly surprised me. There is something supremely spiritual about meditating at the dawn of the day, before the natural bustle of the world awakens. This first morning meditation session was my favorite and most effective of the entire day. We later did Buddha Puja and meditated again, this time we focused on Vipassana Meditation, and learned the theory behind the practice, such as focusing on the different body parts and on the different aspects of those parts.  During the work session after lunch, we planted trees. It felt good to be on a spiritual retreat and still do physical work. We purified and exercised the mind, but we did not neglect our body which added to the overall effect of the retreat. After the work period we had our Dhamma session and Sutra discussion, where we talked about how to righteously gain wealth, once again very practical advice that will help us live a Buddhist life in today’s modern world. We visited the Vietnamese temple today, and it was extremely impressive. It looked like it came straight off the internet, with everything from impressive towering statues of the Bodhisattva of compassion in a lotus pond to even peacocks! Architecturally, it resembled Japanese temples. We learned that they place an enormous emphasis on respecting and remembering their elders, much as most cultures from Asia do. They had a room in the back of the shrine room just for pictures of their ancestors. After we came back we had soup and milkshakes, which made not eating after noon surprisingly easy.

Day 3

Today was my and Rajitha’s turn to prepare Buddha puja so we had to wake up earlier than the others, though even this early still was not that hard.  Justin helped us with the puja. Justin has been a great help and an invaluable presence during the retreat, both as a companion and a trove of Dhamma wisdom. He always takes time to explain anything we don’t understand and makes sure we know what to do so that we stay on the schedule. We meditated again in the morning, then we had the Buddha Puja. Then we did more Vipassana meditation, and walking meditation which we have been doing for the entirety of the retreat. We had the Buddha Puja for lunch, then had our work period. We moved a large tree that took a lot of effort, but luckily the monks helped us. Under those robes they are very strong! We had our Dhamma talk and Suttra discussion, and we learned what famous and wise scholars and philosophers had said about Buddhism, and I think it helped to see that some of the most intellectual members of even so called western society appreciated the scope and message of Buddhism. We visited the temple where I used to do Dhamma School before GBV. It brought back some memories, but they were also renovating, building a new shrine room and living quarters for the monk along with another Sima I have noticed that many of the temples are either expanding or renovating, which has shown me that the interest and support of Buddhists in this area is growing. When we came back we did the Attavisi Buddha Puja which we have done every night of the retreat. This is where we do a Buddha Puja, except for all 28 Buddhas that Gotama Buddha mentioned. It is an impressive experience to chant in front of 28 Buddha Statues, all the Buddha’s that there have been in the eon! We then went to sleep after our soup and milkshake, and it just like the other nights it was not hard to go sleep even though it was early because we had accomplished so much during the day.

Day 4

Today was the last day of the retreat, and I have mixed feelings about the end of the experience. On one hand it will be nice to actually sit on a couch again, and eat whatever I want whenever I want. However, not eating meat which I thought was going to be a real challenge never really bothered me. On the other hand, I will miss the peace of mind that the retreat brought me. The idea of waking up and knowing what you are going to do for every part of the day is very comforting. The absence of outside distraction and the guided focus lets us just reflect on ourselves, which is extremely rare in today’s world. I doubt there is a similar experience outside of the temple, and I understand the peace of mind that monks have their entire lives. We only followed 10 rules, but they have 227! Through this experience, I think I have realized that I don’t want to be a monk, at least right now, but it has definitely reinforced the respect I have for monks. We did this for four days, but they do this day after day, a lifetime of introspection and meditation that I can only imagine doing. Another benefit of this retreat was that when we chanted, we chanted first in Pali but then again in English. It helped us all understand what we were saying, so that phrases that we had said memorized since we were little gained a new meaning to us, the true meaning of the phrases that the Buddha preached. This retreat was something that I think every Buddhist child should go through, so that they get an up close and personal view of their religion as we did. After the retreat, the statement” I am Buddhist” took a whole new meaning, one that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Janith Wickramasuriya

Georgia Buddhist Vihara’s  Youth Retreat to Commemorated the 2,600thAnniversary of the Buddha’s Awakening (May 28,29,30 & 31, 2011)

Diary of a Dhamma Brother

Conclusion of the 4 Day retreat

By Janith Wickramasuriya

Day 1

We practiced group meditation for the first time today. It was a very calming time for us all. After this we had a lesson about a wealthy householder named Anathapindika. He had built a temple in India that was named Jetavanaramaya. We also learned of a very interesting conversation he had with the Buddha that consisted of the Buddha asking Anathapindika questions about things that were pleasing and agreeable for worldly pleasure and what four conduce them. We came to know them as “Saddha”, “Sila”, “Caga”, and “Pañña”.  Bhante taught us of the rules of becoming a higher ordained monk. Apparently there are 227 rules that higher ordained monks follow!  We also went to visit a Cambodian temple. It was interesting to see the differences of the temple structures and colors.

By the end of the day, I was tired and so sleeping at 9 o’ clock was not hard at all.

Day 2

Today we learned about Satipattana-the establishment of mindfulness. There were many sections that were

divided into many subsections, yet, it was still easy to understand. We also learned of a sutta dealing with sensual (sense) pleasures. It very clearly explained the steps to become a good, meritorious person (in regard to wealth). We also had the chance to listen to many different philosophers views on Buddhism.

We visited a Vietnamese temple today. There were endless differences from our own temple. From the large drums and bells used to signal the start of ceremonies to the projectors used in place of chanting books, this temple was vastly different from the traditional ones I have visited. It amazes me that even our religion can be practiced in so many different methods and have numerous traditions accompanying them.

Day 3

Today we learned more of the Satipattana Sutta, as many of the suttas of the Buddha take time to carefully read and comprehend. We also learned the Ina Sutta and the Vasala Sutta and what it takes to advance to and attain the Janik level. We learned more quotes of philosophers in which they spoke their thoughts on Buddhism. We also listened to the types of wives that are in this world. It was very interesting to hear about such a subject in Buddhism. It continued on to discuss the different types of marriages in regard to religion (chiefly Buddhism). The same sutta explained the qualities of a good marriage.

One of the main things that I realized was my craving for items that I had become so accustomed to. For example, the rule in which I had to abstain from using any technology such as a phone or iPod is a very eye-opening situation. We realize how much of an attachment we have to such objects and how hard it is to refrain from using or thinking about them. By the end of this day, I have realized and learned many things about Buddhism and about myself. I wonder what I will feel once Dasa Sil is terminated at the end of tomorrow.

Day 4

Today is our last day. We learned many suttas throughout the day because there were many that were very long and detailed and required additional time to cover. I realized that during these past few days I have improved my concentration very much. I seem to understand more things that I previously did not. For example, each of the rules the monks follow is made to help them understand and truly learn the Dhamma. I see now that the precepts that we have observed are ideal for us, as we have never experienced such a devotion to rules. By this I do not mean that all of us are rule-breakers but rather that following these rules attentively is a difficult task to complete.

The main thing I have learned these past few days was understanding that the Buddha explained the Dhamma in a simple and detailed manner and yet it is complicated at the same time. I do believe that it can be followed given the right motivation (Nibbana). I am very grateful of my parents for suggesting and encouraging me to take Dasa Sil and I am sure that I will observe these same precepts again one day.

Commemorate the 2,600th Anniversary of the Buddha’s Awakening

Commemoration of  the 2,600th Anniversary of the Buddha’s Awakening

Annual Wesak; celebrates three events of the utmost significance in the life of prince Siddhartha who became an enlighten Buddha.   Georgia Buddhist Vihara celebrates the wesak on May 21 2011. Wesak full moon day has been for centuries regarded as the Buddha Day. For it was on a Wesak full moon day, that the Sakyan prince Siddhartha Gautama was born, in Lumbini Park, on the frontier of Nepal, attained Enlightenment, under the Bodhi tree in Gaya, and finally passed away in Kusinara.   The Buddhists all over the world celebrate with devotion the Triple Anniversary of Wesak, please follow the Georgia Buddhist Vihara’s one day program to Commemorate the 2,600thAnniversary of the Buddha’s Awakening

Program for Saturday, May 21, 2011

Program for Adult

7.30 am   Observance of the Eight Precepts, for  adult  Buddha Pooja and Heel Dana

08.30 Break for Tea/Coffee

09.00-11.00  Bhavana introduction with Bojjangha  by Ven. Wajirbuddhi

11.00 Buddha Pooja   for  main shrine for adult Ven. Wajirabodhi (*Note: make two sets of Buddha Puja for both shrine)

11.20 Dana offering to the monks and those who observe eight precepts. (Parents and other devotees will contribute dishes for the Dana.) If you like to contribute for the Dana, please contact us at 770 987 8442.

12.00 Lunch

01.00 Pm Abhidhamma lessons by Dr. Deepta Jayaratne

02.30 Break

02.45  Dhamma  Talks by Ven. Dhammaloka

03.45. Group Discussion (Sutra) Anumana Sutra

05.00 Termination of Sil for adults, Gilanpasa Pooja, Pirith chanting and meditation on Loving Kindness.

05.00 Devotional songs, Speeches and decorating lanterns by Dhamma School Children.

Program for children:

May 21, 2011

7.30 am   Observance of the Eight Precepts, Buddha Pooja and   Dana

08.30  Break for Tea/Coffee

09.00  Dhamma talk by Ven. Wajirabodhi Topic: Great qualities of the Triple Gem

10.00  Bhavana (for children and Young)

11.00 Buddha Pooja

11.20 Dana offering to the monks and those who observe eight precepts. (Parents and other devotees will contribute dishes for the Dana.) If you like to contribute for the Dana, please contact us at 770 987 8442.

01-.2.00 Pm Dhamma lesson; wholesome deeds and unwholesome deeds

02.30 Break

02.45   Question and answer session; paper materials will be prepared about   wholesomeness and unwholesomeness

03.30. Talk on Ten Meritorious deeds

04.00 Termination of Sil for the children,

05.00 Devotional songs, Speeches and decorating lanterns by Dhamma School Children.

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