Meditation is what brought me to Meetup, and I thought we'd do something a little bit different this time. On the day of this event, we will meet and carpool to Deer Park Monastery in Northern San Diego County.
Deer Park Monastery was created by the buddhist monk, poet, and author Thich Nhat Hanh, whose books and talks I have found quietly helpful in building a meditation practice. In the 1960s, Martin Luther King praised him for his work towards peace and ending war. He founded a very successful meditation center, Plum Village, in the South of France.
Deer Park Monastery is a community in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh & the Plum Village Practice Center. This 400-acre sanctuary rests peacefully in the chaparral mountains of southern California, surrounded and protected by oaks and the natural landscape. It was established in July 2000 by Plum Village. At Deer Park, the residential monastic community and lay people (Sangha) practice together year round in the tradition of engaged Buddhism and mindfulness practice in everyday life.
The monastery is open to the public on Sundays, so come make the journey to the Monastery, where you will find a quiet retreat, walking trails, a beautiful contemporary Buddhist temple and a free and simple vegetarian Vietnamese lunch served buffet-style for lunch.
You'll find Buddhist followers, monks and nuns, visitors, children and a sense of community. You'll find a committment to the environment with the whole spectrum of energy efficiency, conservation, and recycling being practiced.
You'll notice that this is a special place even if it isn't right up your alley or of your religious, cultural or spiritual belief.
After we meet up in the parking lot, we will walk up the long meditational steps to the large, contemporary centerpiece of the property, the copper-roof temple. With the property in a fairly steady state of being upgraded, the temple is a beacon for enlightenment.
From there, we will visit the tiny temple on the hillside, which takes some effort to get up to. We will take the dirt path that looks more like a road. Follow it to the grassy plateau. Just to the edge of the hill, you'll see the top of the temple. Walk down the step steps to enter this private meditational spot. There are just two seats in the temple, but three people can squeeze in. The doorway opens to a view of the Escondido valley.
The Monastery is open to the public not only for Sunday visits, but for weekend retreats, and other planned activities. They have the belief that is called "engaged Buddhism", which means that they want to be a part of the community around them and welcoming to those who visit. Plan to have lunch with the community. They serve a free and simple vegetarian lunch.
Be Aware: If you wish to talk while you eat, go ahead and sit outside. Dining is a "mindful" experience that is done in silence.
The nuns and monks committed to do their part to reduce global warming and save the planet. In order to be consistent with their principles, they concluded that they didn't want to take from the earth unnecessarily. They became determined to minimize their global footprint. In February 2008, they installed 66-kilowatts of solar panels making them 100% solar powered. This community is energy self-sufficient and off the grid, and even their website is solar powered. It was a large financial investment, but a worthy investment.
They have purchased old cars and retrofitted them to run on vegetable oil. They compost all their food scraps to be used to fertilize the gardens. And on Tuesdays, they have made a pledge to not use any vehicles.
Why do they do it? In the Buddhist practice, they believe we are all part of each other and the land. In keeping with their practice, they hope to serve as an example of "mindful" living by honoring the environment and being good stewards of the Deer Park's 400 acres.
Just being on the property makes one "mindful"-- mindful of the tranquility, the silence, and the practice of taking the time to pay attention to everything we do, everything we have, and everything we hold dear. There are signs all around the property as gentle reminders to take notice and to be present. It seems that everyone walks away from the Monastery a little more aware than when they first arrived.
We will be there two hours, then return back to Orange County.
For more, visit http://www.deerparkmonastery.com