The last two or three weeks at the Forest Hermitage have been something of a departure from the norm.
We lost Luke who had been my regular driver for the last three years. He decided he’d had enough of driving all over the place and spending hours hanging around in prison car parks waiting for me. This has been quite a blow and since then I’ve been struggling to make my regular prison visits. If anyone knows of a man – it has to be a man – who might be able to take on this driving job, three days a week, usually afternoons or evenings, please get in touch ASAP.
Then there have been a flurry of birthdays. Maureen was 85 at the end of June. Then Khun Ting had her birthday in the same week as mine, so on the 16th July it was off to Nottingham for a celebration at Khun Ting’s restaurant and the next day there was quite a crowd here at the Forest Hermitage, and the day after that, bearing cards (see at the top of the page for the selection), cakes and goodies for my 71st on the 17th.
A week ago Ajahn Manapo set off on a tudong walk around the Peak District. Not sure when he’s due back but it has to be sometime this week because on Thursday it’s Asalha Puja and the following day it’ll be time to enter another Vassa.
Asalha Puja is the anniversary of the Buddha’s first sermon, known as the Setting in Motion the Wheel of Dhamma, in which he expounded the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path as the way out of Suffering. That’s on the Full Moon of the ancient Indian month of Asalha and the last day of that lunar month. The next day the Rainy Season commences and with it the Vassa, the three month period when all bhikkhus have to remain resident in one place. This was ordered by the Buddha in response to complaints from farmers whose rice crops had been damaged by so many bhikkhus wandering here and there. In modern times it’s become more of a retreat period and a time too when many lay people join in by increasing their commitment to precepts and the practice of meditation.
As usual, our celebration of these significant events, occurring as they do on inconvenient weekdays, will take place on the nearest Sunday, that is next Sunday, August 2nd from around 10 o’clock in the morning. Do come if you can.