सब ठीक हैं

So as the local Gods have their hands on the thermostat slowly turning up the heat, there is a sense that the hot season is upon us here in Rampur Gainda. The local farmers and villagers are out harvesting the brown wheat from the fields, now with an addition of a new landscape. What do they now see? We can only wonder what the locals may be thinking while they observe the new site of a few monks pottering about, setting up tents, walking to the local compound with our bowls and trying to communicate with broken Hindi.

As we complete the first week here at Sangharama, we are beginning to settle in and start to get a sense of what we have to work with. The placement of our new Sala (tent) seems to be spot on, really giving a sense of the central area to the monastery. The Sala has come together very nicely with the addition of a few ’Takats’ for an asana, a small table , electricity (yes!!! We have power!) and a nice humble shrine. We meet together in the morning at 7 for a light breakfast and a chat, do some clean up, prepare the seats and do our meal set-up. We enjoy the last moments of cool air as the sun starts to heat things up pretty quick, and then take care of small chores that need doing and return to our spaces. At 11 we take our bowls and walk to the compound where Rahul (AVT Manager) has set out the meal offering for the day. This is also now being supplemented by our neighbor’s addition of roti and some extras. We return to the Sala for the blessing and then eat our meal together, and then race the cows to the bowl washing buckets before they take advantage of this miracle!!!  ‘Hey look, free water in the field!!’  Today they won the race, so now comes the lid.. By the time we are all wrapped up it is beginning to really heat up and we head for the shade of our dwellings for the early afternoon. By 4pm, the shift of the receding sun can be felt and the wave of a pleasant breeze brings us back out. By 5pm it is very comfortable as we meet for an evening juice and tea together, noticing the vast variety of birds that seem to come to life at this time. The variety of birds is quite encouraging for this area, all sorts of bright colors and sizes, flying around the scrubby landscape doing whatever it is they do. We are happy to have them with us, and can only aspire to make the environment more welcoming for many more to follow. The birds will soon send out ‘tweets’ to their friends about us. 😉

We have each settled into our new tents and tarps and appreciate being in a more rural area than Delhi and Yamunanagar. This week we hired a truck and finished the move out of the flat in YN and will end the rent at the end of this month. It was a very convenient apartment for the time of transitioning to the land, serving us very well while we made trips back and forth before the closing of the land. Most of the kitchen has been moved into the room in the compound adjacent to the land. Rahul has set up the kitchen in there and has done a fantastic job organizing the space with the help of some shelves, and seems to be really enjoying his time with us and the villagers. He is a gem.  The families in the compound have also been very kind to us and are always ready to help with whatever it is we are doing.  We have been welcomed to use their bathroom and shower which is really convenient during this time.

So this (along with some pics) may give an idea of the small steps we are taking as the monastery starts to take root on this land. There is indeed a lot that we will need to do while creating a forest environment and a place for the practice of Dhamma, but here we are and it is ‘Por dee’, good enough, to live as monks in Haryana. There is a developing plan slowly coming together as we Zoom online meeting, and soon meet, with various people with professional backgrounds in the areas of permaculture and architecture. With the support and consultations of others, we hope to move in the direction of planting trees which will be suitable for this area and climate. With the landscape as it is, there will be a lot of initial efforts to get some trees and plants growing so that in the future they will provide shade, screening (both visually and audible), and of course the natural environment we (and the birds/animals) can all appreciate. There will also be some plans in regards to our first structures, namely a toilet/shower block, a few huts, and maybe a small temporary hall. These will also be made with the consideration of the environment, the heat, the noises of rock crushers and villages, while being a suitable yet simple space for one to live and practice.

Again this is still very early stages, but we are here. It is very basic at the moment (which is just fine for us) and we are happy to do our best in accommodating anybody who would like to make a visit. We are open! Male lay people can come and stay on monastery land. Overnight stays may be a bit rough, staying in tents and basically camping. However there may be other options, and there is a tourist guest house near by along with hotels in Yamunanagar.  Please feel welcome.

There has been inquiries from people wishing to learn how to support the project, and support the community living here. One can find out more by visiting the website https://aranyavihara.in/ and this is an option for making contributions.  In the near future we may also be seeking help from the community with upcoming projects, tree planting for example. We will continue to post on WhatsApp of what is happening in the monastery , and I will continue to send weekly updates for those who are interested.

Anumodana for all your efforts in practice and for the support of a monastery here in Northern India. May the seeds of effort and wisdom bare fruits in the recognition of Dhamma.  “The gates to the deathless are open”. -Luang Por Sumedho

PS: In above message, Ajahn mentioned about this this guest house which is close to monastery – https://haryanatourism.gov.in/hotel-detail?serviceid=371