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.

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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.

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