Video of ‘Deep Transformation’ Interview with Jayasara

Below is the full video interview just released from the makers of the Deep Transformation Podcast, a discussion with Samaneri Jayasara about her ‘Wisdom Of the Master’s’ YouTube channel — how it began, her inspirations, what drew her to Buddhism, and more…

(NB: We previously posted a link to the edited podcast version a few months ago, which you can find here…)

For the Love of Solitude

Greetings dear Dhamma friends.

Today we are entering the traditional vassa period  (rains-retreat season). This is an ancient tradition observed by Buddhist monastic communities everywhere (originating in Asia, during the three-month monsoon period each year). The vassa season commences on the first day of the waning moon of the eighth lunar month – this year being the 14th July.

This tradition predates the time of Gautama Buddha. It was a long-standing custom for mendicant ascetics in India not to travel during the rainy season as they may unintentionally harm crops, insects or even themselves during their travels. Although many Buddhist ascetics and monastics (like us) now live in regions that don’t have a monsoon season, it is still a tradition that is observed by the larger Buddhist community as it provides a structured opportunity to focus more on intensive meditation practice and to spend more time in solitude. The Buddha encouraged his disciples to continue to observe this period of practice and to limit travel outside of the monastery or hermitage where one was residing.

Although we live a fairly simple life at Viveka Hermitage, just maintaining a hermitage and our various web resources entails ongoing responsibilities. We also established Viveka Hermitage only one year ago and the property needed some work and TLC, so there have been quite a few things to do which has kept us relatively busy. But now we have this wonderful opportunity of the vassa retreat for more solitude and focus on formal meditation practice.

For many people, being alone for long periods of time and observing noble silence for much of the day would be a torture. But for some, like us, who are more hermitic types, we look forward to the vassa retreat each year. Solitude and quietude provide such potent conditions for settling the mind and for allowing insight into Dhamma to arise. After an initial settling-in period and an adjustment to less sensory input, I always find that many ‘knots’ naturally unravel and everything loosens and softens. The body likes it, the mind appreciates it, and the heart begins to open more and more.

What more can be said about the benefits of solitude that hasn’t already been eloquently expressed by the Masters?  All the great spiritual Masters spent long periods in solitude because the benefits for deep meditation are recognized and valued. Without periods of solitude, I doubt many of them would have developed and accessed the profound wisdom and compassion they displayed and shared. The Pali word ‘Viveka’ actually has the meaning of solitude/seclusion, so the name of our Hermitage reflects the inspiration and motivation for setting up this place.

Viveka is not just about physical solitude though, it also means solitude of the mind/heart from the habitual and ongoing proliferations, imaginations, desires, and aversions.  It is about finding that place within that remains equanimous and unmoved by all the sensory input – sights, sounds, smells, thought impressions, emotional reactions, and so on. Ultimately, this kind of solitude is something that can be cultivated by everyone, even within a busy daily life. It’s something that can develop as one becomes more stable in the practice of Dhamma. Therefore, periods of alone time each day can be a wonderful support for our practice and give us the boost we need to meet the various demands  that come our way.

So, for this next period of time (until mid-October), you may hear a little less from us; however, we will be with you at the deepest level of Dhamma connection and will share some reflections along the way with you too.

Wishing you all wellness of body, mind and heart; and may you find, or build-in, some periods of quiet and solitude in your life (even just five minutes here and there if that’s all you can find for now), to recharge your energy, renew your commitment and motivation to realizing the Dhamma, and to heal and nourish your hearts.

With much mettā,
Jayasāra, Jitindriyā, and ‘Cat’

BTW, you might find the latest guided meditation we’ve uploaded called ‘Silence and Stillness’ supportive for practice. May it help you discover the silence within.

Infinity – a short film meditation

This beautiful meditation on “Infinity” (below) is an audiovisual art piece created by Milan Zulic – an award winning, multi-disciplinary artist based in Switzerland. This creative spiritual piece lovingly captures and encapsulates the intersection between form and formlessness, time and timelessness, the finite and the infinite. He incorporates a verse Jayasāra read from St. Tukaram, giving voice to the deep spiritual sentiments within.

As Milan says: “I hope that ‘Infinity’ will find its way to many other festivals and hearts. I believe that now more than ever the whole world needs to remember its divine nature and return to the path of light.”

Congratulations to Milan for winning the Jury Award at the 2022 short film festival in Turkey for this piece, ‘Infinity’.

What’s Love got to do with War ?

A couple of weeks ago Jayasara asked if I would write a reflection for the website… I agreed to of course, but in truth, I’ve been so taken up with keeping track of news about the war in Ukraine (and closer to home, the unprecedented deadly floods that engulfed parts of Eastern Australia this month), that I hadn’t made a start.

She asked me again today, and though very willing, when I contemplated what I might say, I realised I felt a great inner vacuity of words in the face of the huge drama playing out in Ukraine, and the subsequent implications and reverberations moving across the whole world.

Keeping track of the war via the rolling thread of real-time news and images has stirred such a range of emotions and reactions. In my earlier years I was never particularly interested in geo-politics and daily news feeds, but in the last few years, often out of necessity, the internet and the global news network has become a much bigger presence in my life. With having to keep track of news about the devasting bushfires burning across Eastern Australia (some of which threatened our monastery and village at the time); then right after that the onset of the global pandemic and trying to fathom and keep track of what was happening in the world (and the ever-changing regulations in our own society); and now this gruesome and critical conflict playing out in Ukraine, being virtually live-streamed for us all to see and respond to… It’s absolutely phenomenal really. And yet, from the large-lens Buddhist point of view, well, it’s just another day in samsara, isn’t it? Nothing much seems to change on that level, hmm?!

Even in the Buddha’s day, over two and a half thousand years ago, as he and many people around him were awakening to ultimate truth and getting enlightened, there seemed to be plenty of deadly wars, coups, plagues and disease playing out in the society around them.

Personally, due to modern technology, I’ve never felt so close to a war – the senseless and devastating destruction; the unfathomable ignorance behind such an egregious attack; the continued aggression despite the obvious untold cost on all levels for everyone; and feeling the utter tragedy and human trauma in the making. But the odd dissonance is that I am residing about 15,000 kms away from Ukraine, on the other side of the world in a different hemisphere, and in a relatively idyllic location amidst a peaceful community. My life at present feels blessed indeed; and yet, I recognise how circumstances can flip so easily, as it did for those in Ukraine and Russia just a month ago, as it can in any part of the world at any time. Of course, there are plenty of conflicts and dreadful circumstances simultaneously playing out around the world that we don’t always get such rolling coverage of… and the danger is, the longer such conflicts, crises, or social problems persist, the more easily they become ‘normalised’ in our perception. The danger of complacency increases.

When contemplating what to write about here, a theme did pop into my mind: ‘Love in a Time of War’… But, wasn’t that the name of an old book or movie? I googled it. Would you believe that two new books with that very same title have been released recently, (one of fiction and one autobiographical). I wasn’t thinking of a love story per se, but love as in the ‘power of love’. Jayasara recently uploaded a video called ‘Peace for the World’ to her YT channel with inspiring words from Mahatma Gandhi. The very last phrase was: “The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.” That seems to sum up a big part of the problem, doesn’t it… the love of power.

We are all conditioned to want to stay in control at some level, it seems like a basic instinct, and fear of the loss of control is perhaps its driver. The need for having a certain degree of power and control, whether in our personal life or in the world at large, can be relatively rational and expected and held in appropriate perspective, or it can become irrational, grandiose and disproportionate to reality, abusive and dangerous, and completely unhinged. But it is all related to the ego-sense of self… that largely imagined entity, which mistakes itself for this ‘skin-bag’ (as the Buddha called this body), and is a condition which fears any sense of threat to its perceived existence, fears feelings of vulnerability, humiliation, and obliteration. Projected large however, it becomes completely unruly and the cause of so much suffering.

Unless we can come to understand this complex predicament and the ‘mistake’ of the uninformed mind, it seems the love of power will continue to play out in repeated cycles of conflict and war, as history bears witness to. But how can we harness the power of love in our world, and in response to the love of power? I bet you would love an easy answer to that here! And I wish I could provide it for you too… However, we each have to make that enquiry ourselves, take it inwards, sincerely and deeply; go to bed with it at night and get up with it in the morning; and repeatedly ask ourselves ‘How…?’. The true answer can be found, but only by embarking on that journey of discovery and transformation for ourselves — each one of us, in our own life, our own everyday world, with whatever we are encountering. Only in this world, can we truly find the power of love, not in a projected ideal of how the world should be, or could be, or how we should be, but in direct relationship with how it is for us in this moment, moment by moment.

Love for peace is not attachment to peace… True love (in the unconditional sense) is able to face anything and survive, as it is the very basis of existence, the very fabric of reality, and ultimately, has nothing at all to fear. If we can connect with that, then peace has a chance. In writing these words, I am acutely aware that this seems far too easy to say when not in the midst of wartime atrocities oneself… However, it doesn’t diminish the truth of it, and the very real possibility, indeed the imperative, to connect with it.

I wish you love, I wish you peace, I wish you courage, I wish you freedom.

Jitindriya

Mindfulness Daylong at Tilba

Ayya Jitindriyā and Samaneri Jayasāra will teach a daylong of mindfulness in Tilba on Sunday 6th March, 2022. The venue is Kamalashila (aka Drogmi Buddhist Institute), a beautiful Tibetan Buddhist Centre at the foot of Mount Gulaga — a perfect place for practice in the natural forest surrounds of the well-established Dhamma centre and under the embrace of ‘mother mountain’.
All details are on the flyer below.

Follow this link to Kamalashila website to book your place.

Happy 2022!

Happy 2022 dear Dhamma friends!

We hope this message finds you well, and prepared to face yet another year of the inevitable uncertainty, impermanence and potential upheaval on both the personal and global stage…

But fear not! The Dhamma is our true refuge and these events of turmoil and instability can help remind us of this ever-changing reality of the conditioned realm. Moreover, such things can strengthen our practice, commitment, and understanding of the true way of Dhamma. They can elicit deep teachings if we approach them with wisdom and understanding, and can even serve as a catalyst for awakening and freedom.

We all have this priceless jewel within us and need merely to shift our view and understanding, to recognise our inherent awareness and settle into our natural place of stillness, inner peace, and wisdom – even as the world around us may shake and quake.

The Masters’ teachings are the gifts they have left us to help awaken out of the dualistic samsaric predicament. The purity of their message, the palpability of their great compassion, and the sharpness of their intelligence and wisdom is incomparable. All of which emerges from the place (or non-place) of Ultimate Reality, or the Absolute.  Please don’t overlook this power and grace which is in the palm of our hands.

We have decided to create a resource of what we feel are the best guided meditations extracted from the Master’s words (from the Wisdom of the Masters You Tube channel). Although the Masters did not create them specifically as ‘guided meditations’ they are clear pointing-out instructions which Jayasāra has made into this format to support you in your meditation practice. We will post them every two weeks or so and, in the process, create a small library of them which you can easily access and download here on our website: https://vivekahermitage.com/wisdom-of-the-masters/

The first one we’d like to present is His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche’s marvelous teaching on shamatha/samatha (calm abiding, tranquility) meditation. What better way to start the new year than with the development of inner peace…
Please enjoy!

His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche (1904-1987) was one of the greatest scholars and tantric masters of Tibetan Buddhism, and considered the greatest terton (discoverer of hidden texts, or terma) of our time. He also made a thorough and critical study of all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism, realizing the wisdom of all the lineages.

Welcome!

Welcome dear Dhamma friends to our new website!

After many months of slow and meticulous work, and a huge learning curve, Ayya Jitindriya has created this site to share a range of Dhamma resources with you all. We’ll be adding more content regularly, and we hope you find it nourishing and deepening for your practice.

It is interesting to find oneself in this realm of technological speediness and abundance that is the internet. The rate at which information is being shared and the volume of material being communicated is truly astounding and at times overwhelming. The Dharma itself is becoming more and more available and there seems to be thousands of apps, podcasts, channels, and so on, offering meditation, mindfulness, and a host of spiritual teachings and teachers. This is truly wonderful but also a time for using discernment and wisdom.

Our intention here in creating yet another ‘site’ is to offer something fresh and free of charge from a couple of Buddhist nuns who have been around for a while. We live with a 20-year-old cat who brings us much joy, peace, and love by her simple, open, trusting beingness. And like ‘Cat’, these physical forms are slowing down and waning (often aching), our memories are sometimes laughable, and our worldly desires and interests are diminishing. Such is the nature of this samsaric realm. However, the Buddha-Dhamma has been, and always will be our guiding light. It is our firm and unwavering refuge throughout any storms and confusions, and for this we have an unending gratitude and commitment.

Before we depart this earthly plane therefore, we are inspired to share with you this unearthly treasure and for you to discover, or rediscover it for yourselves.

Please enjoy the range of Dhamma resources on offer here. May they bring you much peace, joy, deepening wisdom and lead to the end of all suffering.

Bhavatu sabba-mangalam

May every blessing come to be

Rakkhantu sabba-devatā

And all good spirits guard you well.

Sabba-buddhānubhāvena

Through the power of all Buddhas,

Sabba-dhammānubhāvena

Through the power of all Dhammas,

Sabba-sanghānubhāvena

Through the power of all Sanghas,

Sadā sotthi bhavantu te

May you always be at ease.

~ Bhavatu Sabba-mangalam ~

Samaneri Jayasara and Ayya Jitindriya – and Cat 


Watch our short video launch of this website