Iedisha Jayaratne's Journal

I felt like a whole new person

By Iedisha Jayaratne

When Ammi first told me about the retreat I was excited and told her to immediately sign me up. After finding out about the schedule I was a little put off, but the excitement was still there. And when we finally went to the temple around 7:30, I got really nervous, but after saying the ten precepts and observing sil, my emotions calmed down. On the first day after starting with the meditation I finally just decided not to think hard about the what ifs to calm my body and mind. At first meditating was hard because my mind was filled with unwholesome thoughts and sitting there for thirty minutes felt like an eternity. And as the day went on it became much easier for me. The visit to the Vietnamese temple helped me to learn more about the different ways that Buddhism is viewed in other countries and the traditions associated with it. The second day started with the normal schedule; waking up at five, being at the shrine room by five-thirty and so on. But because none of us were really used to the time management we were all over the place and some of us were late in getting to the shrine room on time. But Venerable Wajirabuddhi patiently waited for us and started meditation after all we all got there. At first since I was still not fully awake it was a little hard to concentrate but after putting more effort my concentration became better. As the day went on my body and mind seemed to be calmer and much more relaxed than it was the first day and unwholesome thoughts slowly faded away from my mind. And then thaththi taught us Abhidhamma lessons which taught me more about the psychological aspects in Buddhism. On the last day, we did better on the time management and I am proud to say that I finally actually sat in a lotus position without movement and good concentration for more than thirty minutes. I was able to stay that way because Venerable Wajirabuddhi taught us how to concentrate on the pain of our sitting position, thus removing the pain. I was somewhat sad that it was ending quite quickly, but I learned a lot through this experience and I like how we did everything according to a schedule while being away from technology and family. It helped me feel more responsible and in charge. I felt like a whole new person. Going on this retreat, no matter how short it is, made me realize more about life and how to relate it to Buddhism. I would like to thank Venerable Wajirabuddhi, Venerable Wajirabodhi, Shrima aunty, Mr. Stevens, my family, the other parents and my friends for making this retreat possible and for the help and guidance they provided during the retreat.

Five powers

Amma was my external energy constantly motivating me.

Day 1

Considering this is my second time doing the Dhasa-sil, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. There were flaws from my last Dhasa-sil, I now had a chance to fix. I was especially looking forward to this. I was looking forward to a stronger discipline of myself. To be honest, I was hoping to become more mindful and sustain mindfulness throughout this spiritual experience.

Nothing out of the ordinary occurred during the beginning of the day, until Vipassana meditation. Bhante advised I try using three pillows, while I meditate. This unbelievably took out the stress from my joints, and I was able to maintain the posture for a while. I’m not sure if this was a placebo effect or the pillows did actually help me. Meditation is quite remarkable indeed. To truly meditate is an extremely difficult task in my opinion. It helped me raise my awareness of simply how unmindful I was. I struggled to concentrate on breathing for even a minute. Different thoughts constantly barraged me. This showed me how thoughts were not mine. Nonetheless, this was a step forward in the right direction.

During Sutta discussion today we learned about the powers, “The five powers of one in higher training” as quoted by the Buddha. These powers are faith, shame, energy, wisdom, and moral dread. While I was unaware if I lacked the others, I knew I lacked energy. I have faith in Buddhism, but I don’t  think I would being doing this retreat if my mom didn’t push me to overcome my torpor.  In a way, Amma was my external energy constantly motivating me.

We visited the Vietnamese temple today. What a unique experience it was. I already visited it once, but today I got the chance to see a charity in honor of Dr. Ambedkar. He was an Indian spiritual leader who helped many Indians in the lower caste. Overcoming numerous social and financial obstacles, Ambedkar became one of the first outcastes to obtain a college education inIndia. He helped over throw the caste system by telling many outcaste “untouchables” they aren’t judged by their heredity and skin color but through their actions. This was a revolution for many and I can quite understand why they looked up to him. It was honestly a different experience. The afternoon puja went on smoothly, but honestly I missed the days we used to do puja in the downstairs, it brought back old memories of times I did Katina puja with my family. I do realize the fact that I won’t achieve any sleep tonight, but regardless I am certainly going to make an effort. Good night.

Day 2

I woke up at around 4… I tried to fall asleep but my mind simply refused to comply. Morning meditation. Bhante was right; the mind is simply serene in the morning. I can’t explain the sense of calmness in the shrine room, while we meditated. Words couldn’t describe it. Don’t get me wrong, this is not sleepiness. I was fully awake the whole time. During the morning it was just easier to meditate since my body was fully refreshed. It was even easier to concentrate on Vipassana meditation during this period, since the mind was I guess you could say “clean”, since it was the morning. Regardless of this fact, I still struggled to maintain concentration.  Still it was a step forward in the right direction, and that was realizing the impermanent and spontaneous nature of my thoughts. It was learning to control them. Two things I noted, Bhante has changed from the last Dhasa-sil; he removed lying meditation in the morning since most would have the tendency to fall into a deep slumber in that position, and the meditation periods itself were shorter and far more instructive.

I usually write my journals based on highlights, epiphanies, and things worth remarking. So during our work period today, I had an event worth remarking on. Steven, Nisala, and I were given the task of cleaning out the downstairs bookshelf and organizing it with new Dhamma books. The books had various sorts of languages from Cambodian to Thai to Hindu. These books were in cardboard boxes lying outside. I noticed small peculiar holes in some of these boxes but I disregarded that and carried them with the help of Mr.Steven and Nisala. While I was cleaning the windows, I came downstairs to see the progress of the shelves. What I saw was revolting. Mr.Steven and Nisala unearthed a roach nest in one of the boxes under the books. The irony of the situation was as quoted by Steven “The roaches were trying to gain enlightenment”. It is certainly interesting that these roaches were born under the scriptures of the Dhamma.  It reflects the fact how close many can be to Dhamma and not know it.

After work period we had sutta discussion and then finally an Abidhamma session. Abidhamma in my opinion turned my world upside down. A lot that I used to believe was really not valid in Abidhamma. For an instance you gained more bad kamma for committing a heinous action without the awareness that it’s wrong rather than knowing it is. This session definitely triggered my interest in the Abidhamma. We followed with Atavisi Puja and then sleep.

Day 3

I woke up at around 5 a.m in the morning. I actually had a somewhat sort of decent sleep, thanks to the sleep deprivation I experienced last night. The sleep did not bother me since this was my last day. I felt a personal satisfaction within me because I did not waste this opportunity. The priests, my parents, and family friends have constantly told me how lucky I am. I understand why now. This is a very rare experience that lets me truly get closer to Dhamma and understand the significance of it. Plus the fact that I am doing it at a youthful age makes me extremely lucky.

We went smoothly through the meditation session, morning and evening puja. We had no work day today but instead we visited the Cambodian temple. The Cambodian temple was very luxuriously designed. They were very reminiscent of East Asian Mahayana Buddhism but I wasn’t exactly sure whether they were Mahayana or not. This temple certainly changed since the last time I came here.

After the temple visit we did an Abhidamma session with Uncle Deeptha. I want to thank Uncle Deeptha for this session since Abhidhamma really helps prove the validity of Buddhism. I really recommend all of you to learn it. Uncle Deeptha using the science of Abhidhamma delved into the phenomena of rupa and nama, the form and mind. He slightly explained how our mind was constantly changing. What was a huge shock to many of us I believe was that the mind dwells in the cavity of the heart. It was a heart attack for us.

Finally we concluded with the last Atvasi Puja I will do for a while. Sadly. Nonetheless I accomplished a lot these past two years in Buddhism and look forward to furthering my knowledge. Thank you all for making this happen.

With Metta,

Ranuka Manamendra

Shanali Manamendra

It opened my eyes a bit on seeing the true reality

By Shanali Manamendra

Day 1

My experience while taking Sil was very interesting. On the first day, I didn't want to do Sil, because I thought it would be boring. Soon as I took the ten precepts, it changed. During Bhavana, it was really hard to concentrate on breathing. Also I had difficulties on sitting in one position. I kept moving posture which was very uncomfortable. After Bhavana, Venerable Wajirabuddi asked two people to prepare the Puja, which was Iedisha and I. We took the tray of food, put a cloth over it, went to the shrine room and started chanting. Then during breakfast the sil members and I had to focus on eating and tasting the food, which means eating mindfully.

We also did loving friendliness meditation. I thought about all the people, creatures, problems, and troubles they are going through. I felt deep sympathy and compassion about everybody. During walking meditation, I had to walk slowly and focus on the walking mechanism. Sometimes it was hard to balance since the movement was so slow.

Around 6:00 P.M we went to a Vietnamese temple. I really enjoyed the trip to the Vietnamese temple. There were beautiful stones and structures inside the Vietnamese temple. Later on the Sil members and I had to prepare for Puja. It was nice preparing for the Puja. I felt peaceful . I liked working hard instead of being lazy. Then we started paying respect and chanting for the 28 Buddhas. Our bedtime was at 9:00 P.M. We had to sleep early because we have to wake up at 5:00 in the morning.

Day 2

At 5:30 A.M, we did Bhavana. Again I had difficulties focusing on one object, and my whole body was in pain. We did walking meditation. It helped me focus on walking slowly. Then Ven. Vajirabuddi Thero taught us Dhamma. He even taught us a Suttra that has five powers and one of them that I remember is shame. If you have shame that means you care about your actions. If you don't have shame it means you don't care or fear the consequences.

We didn't get a chance to go visit a temple. Instead Uncle Deeptha came and taught us Abhidhamma. I got to learn what happens in the past, present, and the next life. I even learned that the mind is in the heart and not in the brain. In Abhidhamma, I learned some things I didn't know about Buddhism. After Abhidhamma, we did puja and  went to bed. We were happy and exhausted. Even though it was hard sleeping on the floor, we fell a sleep fast. My experience on this day was quite successful because I learned many things I didn't know.

Day 3

This was our last day. This time I've gotten my mind to concentrate on breathing and sitting in one position. When pain came, I concentrated on pain. I thought it was quite successful.

During our last day we got a chance to go to aCambodianTemplewith Ven. Vajiraboddi Thero. In the Cambodian temple there were beautiful sculptures and it felt spiritual. It fascinated me. After visiting theCambodianTemple, we came to theTempleand did Abhidhamma with Uncle Deeptha. He told us about Buddhism and the philosophy of it which was interesting. Then we prepared the Puja. I finally finished Dhasasil by taking the five precepts.

Taking Sil for three days was actually beneficial.  It helped me quite a lot. It opened my eyes a bit on seeing the true reality. Learning dhamma helped me fix some of my mistakes. I wish I can take Dhasasil again next year. I want to thank Ven. Wajirabuddi , Ven. Wajiraboddi and Uncle Deeptha for giving us this wonderful opportunity to learn Buddhism.

Sharry Jayaratne's Journel

 I had resigned myself to the inevitable and was ready to face the retreat.

When Ammi told me that I had to attend the Retreat last year, I was not very happy and was unsure of what to expect. Given my restless nature during regular sil, I could not fathom how I would survive three days of non-stop sil. As the day for the retreat came closer, I had resigned myself to the inevitable and was ready to face the retreat.

The first morning started out as usual with us observing the precepts (10 this time instead of the 8). Then we started the meditation, where we were told to keep a clear mind filled with wholesome thoughts. This was the trial I was afraid of; given my multitasking nature my mind tends to run 100 different directions. Thus to focus on one thing was most difficult for me, but during the day this became more and more easy as we started learning a sutta from the Anguttara nikaya. We learned about the five powers which immensely helped me to concentrate and put an effort to acquire more wholesome thoughts.  I was also relieved by the lack of attachments (technology, parents and household responsibilities), which aided in my concentration. By the end of the first day, my mind was relaxed and uncluttered, allowing me to sleep on the floor without being uncomfortable.

Photo Gallery

The second day, waking up and washing was not as rushed as I thought it would be. But then I ran in to trouble with the meditation because of my inability to maintain one posture for long. That hour was distracting and disappointing, making me fear the rest of the oncoming meditation sessions. During the second session, the Venarable taught us how to focus on the pain thus allowing us to remain in one posture during meditation. This helped immensely with the pain and my focus during meditation. During work time and journal writing time, I enjoyed the Buddhist discussions I had with my peers as this allowed me to keep my mind on wholesome thoughts. The last lesson of the day was the main highlight. Abhidhamma teachings helped me to view Buddhism in a different way, after learning Buddhism for 18 years; I finally got a basic understanding of the major philosophies engrained in this doctrine.

The third day followed the same schedule, but I felt as most of my skills improved. I could concentrate better during meditation and understood the basic Abhidamma concepts. At the end of the day, I felt conflicted about going back to my regular lifestyle, where there were so many temptations. I vowed to myself that I would be more involved and try to observe sil as often as I can, to control my mind thus allowing me to control my actions and become a more wholesome person closer to achieving nibbhana.

I would like to thank Venerable Vajirabuddhi and Venerable Vajirabodhi for organizing and giving us the opportunity to participate in this retreat. I would also like to thank thaththi for the Abhidhamma lessons and Steven for being there and providing guidance to us as necessary. I want to thank the parents for encouraging us to attend this retreat, for providing the dana and staying there for our safety during the nights. Finally I would like to thank my peers for participating in this retreat with me while encouraging me to participate in intellectual discussions.

Lakshika Panditaratne's Retreat Experiences.

An Experience I Will Never Forget

by Lakshika Panditaratne

Day 1

The first day of the retreat was definitely the most confusing due to the fact that I had no idea of the events that would take place during the amazing experience. However, I was eager to begin. The schedule was a little off, because we started the day a couple of hours later than we should have. We began the day by observing the ten precepts, which most people do not get the chance to do. Because I had trouble getting my mind to focus, the meditation was the most challenging part of the day. Instead of cooperating, my mind kept getting easily distracted by the littlest of noises. Until this day I had no idea how hard it is to concentrate on a given object. During the Dhamma talk we discussed a Sutra called "The Trainee's powers". This Sutra explained the five powers of a noble disciple. The five powers include faith, shame, moral dread, energy, and wisdom. In Pali they are called Saddha(faith), Hiri (shame), Ottappa (moral dread), Viriya (energy), and Panna (wisdom). Later, we visited the Vietnamese temple. It had a very roomy shrine room with a huge bell in the back. Behind the shrine room was a separate room where pictures and ashes of the dead were kept. Outside of the temple there was a pen of peacocks and a gigantic statue of a Laughing Buddha. Once we returned back to the temple we concluded the day with the Atavisi Puja.

Photo gallery

Day 2

We woke up at 5:00 a.m. today, which was a little bit difficult for me. Although the morning meditation was a little better than the first day, I felt as if my mind was not fully focusing. I learned that concentrating on a part of your body that is in pain will cause the pain to vanish. I was surprised to find out that it actually does work. I also found out that there are six different ways to focus bodily contemplation; breathing, postures, clear comprehension, repulsiveness, elements and charnel ground.   The four postures are sitting, standing, walking, and lying down meditation. We also learnt feeling, mental objects and Dhamma sections known as four foundations of mindfulness.  For the work period we cleaned all the windows, which was a very quick and easy task. The highlight of the day was the Abhidhamma session taught by Uncle Deeptha. Although Abhidhamma is a hard concept to grasp, as Uncle Deeptha said, it was definitely interesting. During this session I learned that the Buddha's teaching is a deep form of science that is yet to be discovered by scientists. I also acquired that the word " Abhidhamma" means deepest phenomena. Once again, we ended the day with the Atavisi Puja and a little journal writing.

Day 3

Just like before we woke up at 5 a.m. This time it wasn't as hard as it was before. The morning meditation was my favorite meditation that I have ever done. Even with the sounds of birds chirping and other little distractions in the shrine room I was able to concentrate on the breath the whole time. Today we demonstrated lying down meditation for the first time. This form of meditation is done by simply lying on the right side with the right arm cradling the head and the left arm along the side. Because we skipped the work period, it gave us a chance to visit the Cambodian temple. Venerable Wajirabodhi Thero told us that the Cambodian Buddha statue is similar to the Thai Buddha statue. The shrine room of the temple consisted of vibrant colors, statues of goddesses, and of coarse a Buddha statue. The exterior shrine room, which was very detailed, was surrounded by Simas. This boundary is placed around the temple, it stands as a limitation. During a special occasion people are not allowed beyond it. Through out the Abhidhamma session I learned that ignorance is the beginning of Sansara, it is also the cause of suffering. I was also taught that the mind is located in the heart and that the mind is even faster than the speed of light. Once the Abhidhamma session was over we all worked together to prepare for the Atavisi Puja. Afterwards, we concluded the retreat with a group photo.

This experience changed my perspective on Buddhism; I am now more committed to following the teachings of the Buddha. So, I would like to thank my parents for encouraging me to participate in this program. I would also like to thank Venerable Wajirabuddhi, Venerable Wajirabodhi, Mr. Steve, uncle Deeptha, aunty Shrima and all the other parents and friends who made effort to make this program success. Thanks to you all, the program was an experience I will never forget!

Poson Poya 2012

The Poson Full Moon Poya Day Program and  Dhamma class will be held on on Sunday, June 10, 2012, from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm at the Georgia Buddhist Vihara.  We invite you all to join the program.


7:30am – 8:30am Observance of the eight Precepts, Buddha Puja and Heel Dana.

8:30am – 9:00am Tea & coffee break

9:00am – 11:00am Vipassana Meditation.

11:00am Buddha Puja

11:20am – 12:00 Noon Dana offering to the monks and those who observe eight precepts. For more information please feel free to contact the Vihara at 770-987-8442.) Note: Dr. Ananda Pathiraja also will bring Dana for the Sangha


12:00Noon – 1:00pm Luncheon

1:00 – 2:30pm Discussion will be base on Abhidhamma by Dr. Jayaratne

1:30-4:00pm  Dhamma Class

2:30 – 2:45pm Break.

3.00-5.00pm  Sutra Discussion; Ariya Pariyesana  Sutta: The Noble search (English)

5:30 pm  Termination of the Sil Gilanpasa Pujava

Nisala Jayagoda's Retreat Experiences

My experience at the Temple during the 3 day retreat

By Nisala Jayagoda

When I first came to the retreat, I had no idea what to expect. I wasn’t sure if I could stay 3 days without technology, not sit in knee-height chairs, wake up at 5 a.m.! At the beginning it seemed like a normal Sila day, but when we started to meditate, I felt it was different. It was different because I did not have the thoughts of the normal hustle and bustle of my daily life clouding my mind. Later we went to the Vietnamese temple, which I though was one of the highlights of the day. In the shrine room, there were huge drums and huge bells which they stuck against before each Buddha Puja. Later in the day we did the Atavisi Puja, which I have not done in a very long time.

The next day we had to wake up at 5 a.m. in the morning, which surprisingly, was very easy. In the morning we had meditation, which was even easier than the day before because my mind was completely calmed and most of my muscles were still resting and were not painful. During the Sutra discussion I learned that the Buddha had explained many scientific rules and theories well before modern science. We finally had an Abhidhamma session and it went really deep into the workings of the mind. It brought my attention to question the reality of all material things in this world. Abhidhamma is also one of Buddhas precious teachings, which agrees with all modern sciences.

The last day was the most interesting day. We woke up at 5 a.m. again, and got ourselves ready for the morning meditation. Since this was the last day of the program, we had to compress the entire schedule into 13 hours. We had the normal meditation time, but crunched everything else. We skipped the work period, which disappointed me a bit, since that was my way to release my pent-up energy. But that sacrifice allowed us to pay a visit to the Cambodian temple. The Cambodian temple resembled our Sri Lankan temple very much, with the exception of an outdoor shrine room. When we came back, we had a 3 hour Abhidhamma session, which I enjoyed thoroughly. We concluded the day with Atavsi Puja. At the end we took part in a group photo. When I came home, the first thing I did was sit on a couch to take a well deserved nap. But I still feel that I needed the simplicity of the retreat, in order to calm my racing mind about the things that I will do over the summer. I would definitely recommend anyone to go to this retreat.

Photo Gallery

Side note: I would personally like to thank Venerable Vajirabuddhi, Venerable Vajiraboddhi, for devoting their valuable time and effort to make this program a success. I would also like to thank all the parents and Mr. Steven, who volunteered to support this event in many ways.

With Mettha,
Nisala Jayagoda
Georgia Buddhist Vihara


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