Ruth Hampton (whose most recent job at the Portland Shambhala Center involved teaching kids at our Kid’s Club) writes:
Hello Portland Shambhala Sangha!
It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been here at Gampo Abbey for 7 weeks. Almost 2 full months! Time is going quickly, and somehow the long days of practice fly by. I am so very glad that I made the choice to come here, and I am so thankful for all of you that helped support me in the process of getting here. Our center in Portland is doing wonderful things, all of which prepared me well for this new adventure. I miss the morning shamatha sits that we have there!
What can I say?! For starters, the wilderness surrounding the Abbey is absolutely beautiful and is incredibly nurturing to be in it. I am so grateful for my daily walks and time to reflect outdoors. Almost every evening there is a breathtaking sunset over the ocean that gives an amazing display of color and bigger perspective. The Abbey itself it quite comfortable, and I am enjoying being with the community here. I am working in the kitchen, and I love my job as one of the cooks. The Shambhala Buddhist path creates a vibrant community of people who work diligently and gently at waking up to the present moment.
The amount of practice time has been very helpful in enriching my practice and letting me go deeper. It is amazing how seated practice can reveal so much about yourself, and then within that revealing there is the opportunity to truly learn how to just let things be as they are. There are many things I thought I knew about myself, and the more I sit, the more I see things clearly. It isn’t always easy to see how my mind works, but the teachings give good guidance on listening to my heart and being kind to myself with whatever happens.
There is a small group of us who have been doing a study group of the refuge practice from the little book that they give you when you take refuge. It’s been a fantastic practice to contemplate taking refuge in the Three Jewels, as well as learning what we truly take refuge in ( self, people who support our sense of self, material objects, exercise, practice, etc).
On a personal level of study, I have been exploring basic Buddhist philosophy and have been studying the Five Skandas. That has been very helpful in deepening the understanding of what seated meditation practice is about and what we are exercising as we do it. I have a very supportive MI and also a novice monk who support me in my studies. The wealth of knowledge here is great, and the library is quite extensive.
I don’t want to keep you with too long of an email. We are currently low in the number of men who are residents, and we also need someone to fill the facilities position. It’s a paid position, and there will be a posting listed on the website. If you know of anyone, man or woman who is interested in coming, please send them along. This is an AMAZING opportunity for a practitioner, and one that a person couldn’t regret. The community here would be a great place for any of our Portland sangha to come and call a new home. If you’ve ever thought of coming here and somehow there is space in your life to come…Please Do It! 🙂
Again, thank you all so much for your support and kindness for getting me here. I have limited email addresses. Would someone be willing to pass this along to the participants that I was with in the last Shambhala levels 1 and 2, as well as the teachers?
Well, the han is calling and morning chants are about to begin.
Best wishes to you all and I think of you!! Stay committed to your practice, be gentle with yourself, and listen to your heart.
In the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha,