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.

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