Santhushi Dharmawardhana

 I cannot beat myself up for making mistakes.
By: Santhushi Dharmawardhana

So… what will the retreat be like? Will things be hard? These were my questions before the retreat. During the retreat, I realized that things will be a bit hard, but I cannot beat myself up for making mistakes. After the retreat, I was worried about how to write my journal. Now here I am, writing it. Writing the journal is not too hard. The only hard part is being truthful. Anyway, this is my 2019 Youth Summer Retreat experience.
Day 1 May 29th, 2019
Today was the first day of the retreat. I was excited and a little nervous because this was my first retreat. The day before I had a fever, so my parents were deciding whether or not I should come.  I really wanted to come, so in the end, they finally gave in. Two of my friends the same age as me also came to the retreat. We observed and learned about the 10 precepts.
The 10 precepts are:
1. I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living creatures.
2. I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given.
3. I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual activity.
4. I undertake the precept to refrain from wrong speech.
5. I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.
6. I undertake the precept to refrain from eating at the forbidden time (i.e., afternoon).
7. I undertake the precept to refrain from dancing, singing, music, going to see entertainment
8. I undertake the precept to refrain from wearing garlands, using perfumes, and beautifying the body with cosmetics.
9. I undertake the precept to refrain from lying on a high or luxurious sleeping place
10. I undertake the precept to refrain from accepting gold and silver.

When Lokku Hamuduruwo told us the 10 precepts, I was worried that I would break one of these precepts. At night I thought that I would have trouble sleeping on the ground, but it was actually not that bad. I couldn’t wait for the next day.

Day 2 May 30th, 2019

Today we woke up early in the morning and drank tea. To my surprise, I was not that sleepy and I had slept comfortably. The tea helped me stay awake for the rest of the day. After tea, we took candles in our hand that lit up in the darkness. It was a very beautiful sight to see. We went into the Shrine Room and did a group meditation. It was a very calm and peaceful morning. After the meditation, we ate breakfast and then did the Vipassana meditation in the Shrine Room. I found this meditation a bit hard, and my mind wandered off sometimes. Then, we had a break time. During this time, I rested a bit because I was not feeling very good. After the break, we had meditation instruction. We did walking meditation. In the walking meditation, we had to focus on moving our feet slowly. This meditation was not too hard for me. I was able to concentrate and balance through most of the meditation. Next, we did the Metta Meditation in the shrine room with Lokku Hamuduruwo. This was also a meditation that I found not too hard. After that, Mr. Steve taught us ways we could sit comfortably during meditations and told us stories. We also did the Metta Meditation with Mr. Steve. Lokku Hamuduruwo chose me, Thevin, and Iedishe Akka to prepare the Buddha Puja today. After the Buddha Puja, we ate lunch prepared for us by Kisa nanda. At work period we were allowed to either help in the kitchen or clean the forest area behind the temple. I chose to clean up the forest area. I pulled out the weeds near the statues. Then, I raked the leaves. I felt glad that we were doing something outside. After the work period, there was a Dhamma session. There was one for the new kids and one for the people who have done the retreat before. I was in the session with 6 other kids. We had an introduction to the Abidharma from Deeptha Uncle. We learned things like Classification of Mind, Classification of Mental Factors, Classification of Matter, The difference between knowledge and wisdom, four steps to Nibbana, Paramatta, and more. These were deep and a bit hard to understand, but after the discussion, I thought about these things and was able to understand a little better. For example, we are made from the five aggregates. Isn’t it deep? About halfway through the second break, my father came to pick me up because I was too sick to continue the day in the temple. I was told that I would be returning tomorrow.

Day 3 May 31st, 2019

I came back today. I still had to follow the 10 precepts at home. I came back at around 11:30 am. Everyone was surprised to see me because they did not know that I would be coming back today. I had missed the temple visit yesterday to a Cambodian temple. My friends told me that it was a very big, beautiful, and colorful temple. I was sorry I missed it, but I found out that we were going to have another temple visit today. We followed the same schedule as yesterday. Today in the Dhamma session, we learned more about the Classification of Mind, Classification of the Mental Factors, Classification of matter, The 12 links, the Eightfold Path, the Five Aggregates, and
Dasa Akusal.

Dasa Akusal is:

Sexual Misconduct
Rough Speaking/harsh Speaking
Frivolous talking/Gossip
Wrong and Distorted views

We visited a Vietnamese temple today. The temple was big and pretty there was a lot of nature. There were peacocks and lots of statues. A very sweet and kind Bhikkuni told us about the temple and what the statues represent. There was a very young kid named Riley. He had lots of... enthusiasm. The rest of the day went on like yesterday.

Day 4 June 1st, 2019

Today was the last day of the retreat. Surprisingly, when I was waking up, I was feeling drowsier than yesterday morning, but the drowsiness left in a few minutes. We did the morning group meditation, ate breakfast, did more meditation, had break, had a work period where I worked deeper in the forest and had a Dhamma session. In today’s Dhamma session, we reviewed everything we had learned during the retreat. In the end, Kumara Uncle took pictures of us and a group picture of everyone. After the retreat, I felt calmer.

 In my opinion, the retreat was an amazing success, and it taught me lots of new things. Taniya Nanda and Chapa Nanda helped wake us up, made food for us, and more. Kumara Uncle took our pictures and helped make the designs on our T-shirts. Devika Nanda helped organize the morning when we came to the temple. Deeptha Uncle and Mr. Steve were great teachers and a lot of help, of course, the Bhantes, and others. I thank all these people who helped organize the 2019 Youth Summer Retreat. I also thank my parent who encouraged me to participate in this event. I hope that I will have this opportunity next year. May you all be well and happy.

Poson Poya Program on June 15th

Poson Poya Program will be Observed on Saturday, Jun, 15th, 2019 from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm at the Georgia Buddhist Vihara. We invite you all to join the program.

Morning Program
7:30 – 8:30 a.m. Observance of the Eight Precepts, Buddha Puja and Heel Dana
(Self Serving)
8:30 – 9:45 a.m. Dhamma Desanawa by Bhante Piyananda
9:45 –10:00 a.m. Break
10:00 –11:00 a.m. Bhavana by Bhante Wajirabuddhi
11:00 –11:15 a.m. Buddha Pooja (Must start @ 11.00)
11:30 –12:00 nn Dana offering to the Bhantes and those who observe eight precepts
12:00 –1:00 p.m. Luncheon
Afternoon Program 
1:00 – 3:45 p.m. Sutra Discussion by Bhante Deepankara
(PDF Link in Pali-Sinhala, Please bring your favorite reading device)
3:45 – 4:00 p.m. Tea & coffee break
4:00 – 6:00 p.m. Dhamma Discussion (Cont.) 

6:00 p.m. Termination of the Sil and Gilanpasa Puja

Sign up for the program

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Nelitha Kulasiri

My Experience of the 2019 Youth Retreat
                                       Nelitha Kulasiri
This year was my third retreat at the Georgia Buddhist Vihara. The retreat is an event where we take the 10 precepts for 3 days.  Throughout those three days we practice mindfulness, loving-kindness, learn about the Dhamma and practice various meditations. It is a very calming and spiritual experience. This retreat is different than previous retreats for a few different reasons. This year Uncle Deeptha, Venura, and Thai were all becoming Novice Monks. Thai and Venura had been ordained a couple of days ago, under the names of Bhante Saddhaloka and Bhante Pannaloka, and would remain as novice monks for two weeks. Bhante Deepaloka (Uncle Deeptha) disrobed at the beginning of the retreat. Another good thing that will happen this year is temple visits. Temple visits are where we go visit other temples in the area, for example, Cambodian or Vietnamese temples. Unfortunately, because of the increased number of people, we could not go last year. This year however we will be able to.

Day 1
Last night was the orientation of the 2019 Youth Retreat, where Looku Hamudurwo delivered the 10 precepts to us and told us how to conduct ourselves under these precepts. Today Looku Hamduruwo woke us up at around 4:30, and I had difficulty waking up that early. During the morning candlelight meditation, I found it difficult to concentrate, likely because of this tiredness. Afterwards, we did a breathing meditation, where I was still unable to focus because my mind kept wandering. After having breakfast, Looku Hamduro had us do a walking meditation, and I found this very calming and was able to concentrate. In walking meditation slowly walk around and focus on how we walk – our movements, how our heel meets the ground, etc. This meditation is a form of mindfulness meditation as we must be mindful of how we are moving. After lunch, we had an hour or so for “Mindful Work”. Similar to last year Looku Hamduruwo asked some of us to rake the leaves outside the shrine room in order to place the area look nicer. I enjoyed working together with everyone and making the temple a better place.
Since we cannot eat 3 meals, we are given a smoothie or yogurt in the afternoon. While having our smoothies, Thevin asked Uncle Deeptha an interesting question. He asked, “Let’s say you see four people tied down to a railroad track, and a train is speeding towards them. You can pull the lever and switch the train to an alternate track, however you see that one person is tied down to that track as well. Will you save the four people and kill only one person, or do nothing and let the four die?” The rest of us said to kill that one person and let four people live, however Uncle Deeptha said that we should do nothing. He said that by killing that one person, you further involve yourself in the Samsara Cycle. Those four people would die, not because of you, but because of their past karma. Although what he says may be true, I don’t think I’d be able to stand by and watch that happen.

Day 2
Today I awoke much more refreshed than yesterday, and I was able to concentrate much better during the candlelight and breathing Meditation. This morning Steve talked to us about the Loving-Kindness Suttra, and how we can apply it to our daily lives. I liked this, as it showed us that rather than being an abstract idea, loving-kindness can now be more meaningful to our lives. Later, with Venerable Deepankara, we had a very meaningful Dhamma discussion. We first talked about whether or not we should believe everything our elders tell us. We read a Suttra that the Buddha gave called the “Kalama Suttra”. In this Suttra, the Kalama people ask advice from the Buddha. They said, “There are some monks and brahmans, venerable sir, who visit Kesaputta. They expound and explain only their own doctrines; the doctrines of others they despise, revile and pull to pieces. Venerable sir, there is doubt, there is uncertainty in us concerning them. Which of these reverend monks and brahmans spoke the truth and which falsehood?”. To this, the Buddha explained that if what they say is evil or unwholesome, or will lead to evil and unwholesome things, then you should not follow it.
In this discussion, we also talked about abortion. Some of us said that it shouldn’t be allowed, as killing is killing. However, I believe that it should still be an option just not encouraged. Although it is true that it is wrong, just like the Buddha didn’t force his teachings onto people, we cannot make people do something that they don’t want to.
At the temple visit today we went to a Vietnamese Temple. It was very large and had peacocks walking around peacefully. This temple followed the Mahayana branch of Buddhism, contrary to our Theravada branch. The Bhikkhuni there explained to us the stories behind the statues and paintings of Bodhisattvas in their shrine room.

Day 3
Today is the final day of our stay at the temple. The beginning of the day went as all the previous days had gone. We did various meditation, which I was able to focus through, and began our work period after lunch. During the past two days we had been cleaning outside the temple and around the Mihinthalava statues, but today we began cleaning the path that we take during the Parahera. When we began, however, I found that we were not cleaning the short pathway that we take during Katina, but the long winding one that goes all the way around. This path had been blocked by a tree trunk, which we cut down. It was a lot of work, but everyone pitched in and helped. Parts of the path were almost completely covered with leaves and sticks. Unfortunately, we were unable to finish the entire path, but looking back I’m proud that we were able to make it look so much nicer. After the work session, we began our final Dhamma discussion with Bhante Deepankara. Today we discussed the Sigalovada Suttra, in which the Buddha discusses what defines good friends and bad friends and harmful things that can lead to you losing your wealth. This is a very important Suttra, although it didn’t quite resonate with me like the other Suttras did.
At the end of the retreat, we all do an Attavisi Buddha Puja (a puja to the 28 Buddhas). So after taking pictures, we prepared the Puja. It was during the Puja that we said the five precepts, and terminated our Dasasil. After finishing the Puja, Bhante Wajirabuddhi Thera asked some of us to come up and speak about our experiences, and how the Retreat could be improved. Overall I feel that this retreat has been very calming and educational, and I would recommend it to any young Buddhist. May you be well and happy.

Omandee Karunanayake life really that complicated?

In reality, not really. It just seems that way because of the involvement you have with other people. If you just ate, drank, and slept without worrying about anything but yourself, it would be so much easier. But in most cases that isn’t the situation. You have to go to school, learn, get a job, get married, have kids, earn money. If you think about it, it's actually very true. By going to the 2019 summer retreat, I found out that there isn’t that much to it. By spending time away from the hustle and bustle of my daily life I could spend time looking into myself and my imperfections. I think the retreat helped me learn not only independence but loving kindness towards each other. It was a life changing event for me and I hope you join next retreat as well!

Day 1
Today, this morning, we lit candles in the shrine room. It gave the room a very still but calm and serene feeling like an elephant in the room but less tense. While doing the meditation and Gathas, my mind couldn’t stay in one place much less hear what the Bhante was saying. Then after a while, my mind calmed down a bit so that I wasn’t thinking about everything in the world at a time. I started thinking, Is this what dreaming feels like?  And I realized that I got off track and I was like I did it again!  and I started beating myself up. Then I said okay that happens it's fine. After I got myself together, I listened. Bhante said that we must work on our imperfections and learn to fix them as soon as you see them arise. I learned that little things like waving and smiling can bring out the kindness in you. Later, after the Buddha Puja and the Abhidhamma class,  we visited the Cambodian temple. I thought it was nice and pretty. A kind monk greeted us to learn about their cultures. What surprised me the most was that the story of the Buddha was the same. I mean being in a secluded population of Buddhists, it shocked me that someone besides the people at the GBV knew this story. Anyways, I think this day at the retreat went well!

Day 2
Today I just could not stay awake this morning. As much as I tried my eyes just couldn't keep open. The other day, Loku Hamuduruwo was talking about the immediate benefits of meditation.  Honestly, I didn’t believe it then, but I tried it and it actually worked!! It was like magic! As soon as I put my heart into what I was meditating I was more aware of my surroundings which made me feel less drowsy.
During Abhidhamma, I was so lost in the knowledge that I was gaining that it was hard to processes. It was kind of like forgetting everything that you know about life and starting all over. That is how vast it was. But at the same time very logical. Somehow we got into the discussion “ What is the difference between knowledge and wisdom?” And Deeptha Uncle said, “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is knowing that you shouldn’t put a tomato into a fruit salad.” Very deep, but so logical. I think I learned a lot about Dammah today. And I hope I’ll get better sleep so that I don’t fall asleep when I could be learning something!

Day 3
I can’t believe that it is the last day of the retreat! I woke up with little difficulty, although my back ached a little from sleeping on cement for the last couple days. After breakfast and the Buddha puja, we did the walking meditation for a little bit. First, the soles of my feet were hurting because of the small pebbles on the ground. But after a while, my feet got used to it and the pain withered away when I took my mind off of it and concentrated on walking. Then it reminded me of the time on the first day where Steve was talking about positions to sit in when meditating. He said if the positions are still uncomfortable to meditate on the pain. It just goes to show you that mindfulness can come in handy for a lot of things and situations. Not just at the temple. Later after the mindful working, we visited a Vietnamese temple. There were beautiful peacocks and a 4-year-old named Rylie. He had the strangest haircut but it looked really cool. Soon after, the sweetest nun came to greet us. We learned about the laughing Buddha who is the future Buddha. We also learned about bodhisattvas. I noticed it was much more feminine than our culture. They also pray in Vietnamese not Pali, which I thought was very interesting. When we got back we did the veneration to our parents. I have to thank my mother and father for pushing me to try harder and harder to achieve my goals. I couldn’t have done the retreat without them. I also want to thank Chapa Auntie, Tanya Auntie, Deeptha Uncle Bhante Wajira Buddhi, Bhante Deepankara, Devika Auntie, Suresha Auntie, Ms. Nyugen and Steve for making this retreat possible. Taking Dasa Sil, waking up at 5:00 AM, and sitting in one place for what felt like hours may have been a struggle but it definitely taught me discipline and loving kindness. I hope I can participate in the retreat next year as well!

With love,
Omandee Karunanayake

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