An Cư or Winter Retreat this year marked a very important event in my life. During this time we settle down and be at peace with ourselves and the environment; to congregate with the Sangha community of fellow monks and nuns of varying degrees of rank as well as men and women, lay devotees. This year, the retreat is being held at Phap Hoa Temple. This is a special place for me, because two years ago, I had the privilege of attending and helping prepare for the Buddhist funeral of Hoa Thuong Thích Như Huệ.
During my time here I have entered a serene and tranquil state of mind and found myself looking up to the higher ranked monks as I chanted and had lunch and dinner with them. I have been privileged to receive sage advice from them as well. Lay followers, both those who have known me when I was a little boy (nine months old boy) and before I was a novice monk and those who have seen me for the first time have expressed their admiration of my decision to enter the monkhood.
In ten days we followed a very strict timetable to learn Dharma and purify ourselves. Its also give us more energy and determination. Everybody worked hard to make the retreat a great success. Myself and everyone are very grateful for all the people in the kitchen for providing us with delicious meals every day so that we have the energy to perform our daily duties.
The weather outside is very cold, but inside the hall everybody pays full attention to the teaching of the Venerables, which in itself creates a special warmth that trumps the chill.
Whenever I am with the Sangha during times of chanting I observe their sitting posture, the timbre and pitch of their voices and their skill with the instruments. When I look at them, I asked myself: Is this what I want to be in the future? Can I dedicate myself to this way of life for a lifetime? Could I one day be a teacher to a group of lay followers? Although daunting, it is with the teachings and guidance of older monks and the atmosphere of that I can answer in the affirmative to those questions.
Thank you all Most Venerables, Venerables Monks and Nuns for teacher me many things, and thank all people helped this year retreat with all my heart.