Omandee Karunanayake

So...is 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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