As the spring retreat opens we have several people participating in our aspirant training program here at Deer Park. The monastic community continues and is growing deeper roots on this land!
This past winter retreat the monks of Solidity Hamlet offered a class entitled: Introduction to Monastic Life. The class was open to all friends in Solidity Hamlet attending the entire 90-day winter retreat. We had eight participants following the course to the end. Some participants were sure they wanted to go in the direction of monastic life, some were contemplating monastic life while others deeply wanted to understand the monastic life, practice and culture better. Friends staying for the entire retreat also had a weekly mentor-mentee group in order to share about their experience in the practice.
During our weekly class the topics included:
- Plum Village practice and tradition
- Cultivating and strengthening our Bodhicitta (Mind of Awakening/Love)
- Precept and fine manners training to help us step into freedom
- Practicing stopping and deep looking using gathas
- Understanding chanting and ceremony practice
- Relating to family and friends as monastics
- Study and learning as monastics
- Novice experience in monastic life
- Practice of Sangha building and Engaged Buddhism
The classes were offered by six qualified Dharma Teachers, several Dharma Teachers in training and our Novice group. The Deer Park monastic brothers have agreed that anyone interested in applying to practice as an aspirant with the potential to become a monk will first have to attend the entire 90-day retreat and participate in the Introduction to Monastic Life Class. Only toward the end of the 90-day retreat do we consider requests to become an aspirant. Through the years we have learned that many young men think of becoming monks, but they do not yet know the details of what the monastic life entails. This class is an offering to help develop understanding and clarity whether they eventually ask to go in the direction of monastic life or not. In Solidity Hamlet we currently have six young men in training as aspirants!
Arrival day for our next 90-day retreat and Introduction to Monastic Life class is Friday, September 14 2018.
For more information about the aspirant training in Clarity Hamlet for women please click here to contact the Dharma Teachers.
Here are some comments about the class:
This class was an excellent way to understand monasticism and the aspirations for pursuing the spiritual life. It really helped in understanding my own expectations vs. the realities of monastic life and renunciation. Having this time to ask and receive questions of the difficulties and difference was so meaningful.
I always looked forward to this class.
This class brought me closer to the monastic brothers and allowed me to further reflect on possible monastic aspirations.
For me, this class has been about listening to the Dharma and becoming inspired by the elder brothers.
This class has been invaluable to me and my progression on the path. I’d like to thank all the teachers again for offering these classes this winter and I hope that you all are able to offer this again to others seeking to become monastics.