One week at Eleusis
A week at Eleusis… it was quite an experience! I came by train and arrived rather late at the station in St. Amand Montrond Orval. David picked me up at the station and drove me to the house. We drank a cup of tea and then I went to to bed. So, basically, my time at Eleusis started with the morning meditation.
The morning meditation was impressive for me. The meditation I am used to is zen, so I was not familiar with chants and a lot of recitation. I am only used to the heart sutra and a few other sutras.
My first chant
So at half past seven I walk to the meditation hall where I meet Adam for the first time. He is preparing the zendo. I look around in this big old building. It has walls and a roof, but no doors. It gives you still the feeling that you are outside. There are a lot of Persian style carpets on the ground and several statues of different kinds of Buddhas. There are little candles already lit by Adam.
Duet for Buddha
From the first moment I feel very moved by the walking meditation. This slow walking and then our voices chanting, calling the Buddha… I feel a kind of tenderness listening to the voices of David and Adam in this big old meditation hall in the freshness of early morning: these male voices before and behind me while I am walking somewhere in the middle. When you pass each other very close on the route of the walking meditation, for a brief moment, it is if you are singing a duet together… a duet for Buddha.
Before I know it big tears are dripping around my cheeks. So it was every morning, sometimes because of this chanting, sometimes because of the recitation of the “Summary Practice”, or other recitations. The recitations of the sutras sound to me as beautiful prayers. It doesn’t matter to me that I couldn’t understand every part of it. The energy of all these words reached me anyway. I feel very much at home during the morning meditation.
After the morning meditation, everyday, there is the delight of breakfast outside in the field in the rising sun: a breakfast prepared by Adam; fresh chopped fruit and homemade bread, and homemade jams, what a treat!
The woods of Eleusis also impress me. All these different kind of areas with their own energies. So many old trees, unexpected open fields, old stone walls and wonderful pieces of rich, soft green moss carpet everywhere.
Friendship with an Oak
I remember the first time I saw the retreat hut. I thought, “Oh, that must be scary, to sleep here several nights all alone by your self in the middle of the woods…” A few days later I am cleaning the hut. I do the job at ease. I take my time and while I am cleaning the hut I also clean a bit of my inner worries with crying. After a while, chanting “Namo Kwan Shi Yin Bosat”, I discover how beautiful the acoustic is in the hut.
But the crying becomes stronger instead of less… so I take the only chair there is and go sit outside with my tears. I look around and see beautiful golden September light everywhere playing with the leaves and the trees, all the green still very alive. Then I see the big old oak right before me: this old friendly giant looking upon me. He immediately calms me and I feel very safe. Then I realize that this oak must be a very nice friend when you stay a couple of days in the retreat hut all by your self. At that moment, with the friendly oak, I couldn’t imagine I would ever be scared in the hut.
To do the dishes and fall in love
I noticed there is lots of work at Eleusis and I love this kind of work. Working in the woods, cutting the blackthorn, picking blackberries; these jobs I did. Also, working in the kitchen, making jams and syrups. And, not least, doing the dishes! Even that is a wonderful job outdoors, with a lovely view of the sunset at Eleusis.
I had a wonderful week…and yes I fell in love with Eleusis…. I hope to return as soon as possible…
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