Monks, take to the road. Travel for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world; travel for the good, the benefit, the happiness of men and gods. Preach the Doctrine…
(Vin 1 21)
In the code of discipline of Buddhist monasticism (the Bhikkhu Vinaya in this case) there is no rule which made solitude obligatory; but in the sutta-pitaka solitude was thought to provide a suitable and sometimes essential atmosphere for the practice of meditation. To what extent did the practice of solitude remove Buddhist monks and nuns from society? Where they always alone? (The source of the above text is unknown to me.)
In our Order we take the Bodhisattva Precepts and for the most part live in community. Sometimes, as the early monks and nuns did, we take some time for solitary retreat. I’ve been packing up necessities these last couple of days in readiness to travel. I’ve taken up the opportunity to spend a couple of weeks in our Hermitage in Wales. I’ll be alone and surrounded by sheep!
As was the case with the monks and nuns of old, I’ll not be checking email, or blogging! While I’m away on retreat my good traveling companion Iain has agreed to launch daily postings which I’ll be staying up very late tonight preparing. I found a poem by Ryokan, a bit of a hermit himself, who was greatly influenced by Zen Master Dogen. He wrote a poem titled Reading the Record of Eihei Dogen. This will be published in daily installments along with photographs.
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I’m staying two nights at Telford Buddhist Priory in the Midlands before moving on to the Welsh mountains. Rev. Saido, the monk in residence, took many of the photographs that you will see over the coming days. Many thanks.