Harmonious Mix at Harnham

Posted on Fri, 21 Sep 2012

Anagarika Markus marking out the board-walk

Most of you will know Harnham Hill as a meeting place for people from many different cultures and nationalities. Even though our community has more recently been made up almost entirely of Anglo-Saxons and Germans, last week diversity took a foothold again with guests from Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Spain, Italy, and finally also Tan Bodhinando’s parents arriving from Germany.

It is the first time the Knabes visit their son at Harnham and luckily they will have had a few spacious days at Kusala House to get used to the monastic environment, before this weekend they will have to show their skills in flexibility: we are expecting nearly 20 more guests, mainly from the meditation groups in Leeds, Carlisle and Edinburgh to participate in Saturday’s Lakeside Volunteer Work Day and the Practice & Study Day on Sunday and to enjoy the opportunity to meet and practice together. Even though they come from our local groups, they too are by no means all ‘born and bread British’ either. Some of our expected visitors are originally from France, Malaysia and Burma. As our German, Italian and Spanish guests will also still be here, we are then looking forward to another ‘international weekend’ on Harnham Hill.

For this weekend all accommodation at Kusala House is completely booked, but perhaps you would like to join us during the day. The Volunteer Day on Saturday the 22nd will start at 8:30am. We will have a break for the shared meal at 11am and then continue to work until 4:30 or 5pm. Ajahn Abhinando will receive visitors for a Questions & Answers session over tea at Kusala House and after evening puja (7pm) one of the senior monks will offer reflections on the Buddha’s teaching. The Study & Practice Day on Sunday starts at 9:30am, with the finish aimed for 6pm. The theme will be Not-Self. There will be readings, discussions and sessions of formal meditation. Attendance for either of these events does not require any booking. If you intend to come for the Volunteer day, make sure you bring sturdy and weatherproof clothing. If you have your own garden tools it might be helpful to bring them along too. Particularly garden shears or strimmers (together with suitable protective clothing) would be very welcome.

When you come to the monastery next you might also want to have

a look at our free distribution book display as a new delivery of books, generously sponsored by supporters in Malaysia, has just arrived and some new books by Ajahn Thiradhammo, Ajahn Sucitto and others should soon make their appearance on the shelves.

After the weekend occupancy of Kusala House will go down a little; enough to make space in the shrine room for Ajahn Puñño to teach a week-long retreat. While the retreat will be self-contained in Kusala House, the rest of us will keep attending to the daily running of the monastery, watching out for our contractor, who will by then hopefully have received the wooden stakes he needs to drive into the ground for the boardwalk around our lake.

A distinctively autumnal feel in this morning’s breeze made us aware that winter is coming closer – and if the winter comes closer, so does our Winter Retreat. If you are interested in a prolonged stay at Harnham to volunteer support during the retreat, please contact us by phone or e-mail. The Winter Retreat will last from the beginning of January to the end of March. We are interested in helpers who would like to stay for at least a month. You will be asked to help mainly with the cooking, but there might also occasionally be some help required with maintenance work or driving. You should be aware that there will be very little formal structure or teaching available, so ideally you should be an experienced practitioner, without the need for guidance and comfortable to handle the amount of unstructured quiet time that is offered.