|Forest Sangha Newsletter||July 1988|
View from Switzerland
When we come to a new country things are obviously different -new countryside new residence, new people, etc. If we hold on to a particular view of things we are left only with comparisons: this is better than that, that is better than this.
Our way of practice though is about learning to see the view, learning to see the whole process of viewing. Whether it be English countryside or Swiss countryside there is still seeing, hearing, smelling ... liking, disliking, indifference. Our practice may be in a new place, but it is the same space!
So far we have met only welcoming and friendly gestures.
|We have settled in to our second-floor Vihara flat of three bedrooms, kitchen and shrine-room-cumdining-room-cum-reception room, Work on two more bedrooms and a larger shrine-room progresses very slowly but we hope to be able to use them before the end of July.|
Our new situation is somewhat atypical of the Forest Tradition as we are close to the centre of a large village on a busy street. However, there is a pine and beech wood only seven minutes' walk away; and a half-hour's walk away is a hilltop viewpoint with spectacular panoramic views of the snow-capped Alpine peaks thrusting up into the sky and the wooded hills of the Emmental and Mittelland rolling off to the horizon.
We have made many alms-round excursions through the surrounding countryside and villages, arousing much curious and friendly response. We have had a very cordial meeting with the local Catholic priest and the two Protestant ministers have come to the vihara. Two stories in the Bern newspapers appeared in a favourable tone and we will feature in next month's edition of a Swiss journal. So far we have met only welcoming and friendly gestures.
|Visitors have been appearing in a slow but steady stream. In our second week we were honoured by the visit of the Venerable Somdet of the Marble Temple in Bangkok, and last week the Meditation teacher Godwin Somaratana dropped by for dana and for Dhamma discussion. We have received the first spontaneous alms-offering on the Burgdorfstrasse from two Cambodians who journeyed several hundred kilometres just to offer pindapad.|
Already many people have come forward with offers of support and help. One young man turned up at 7 a.m. Saturday morning to put in a day's carpentry work; an architect has offered his services; someone else has offered building materials; others have offered help with graphic design, printing and translations-we are amazed at the many kind and generous responses!
We also have invitations away from the vihara: Thai Wesak in Zurich, Vietnamese Wesak in Lucerne, talk in Bern, etc. The nearby Kalden Choling Tibetan Centre has offered the use of their centre for retreats and have arranged for us to meet His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, later this month. Several weekend retreats are planned for later in the year and monthly talks in Bern are being arranged.
|Even though we have been here only a month it seems like ages-so it goes when there are so many good things happening. With such an auspicious beginning the Forest Tradition is starting to sprout a few blossoms in Central Europe.|
Dhammapala Buddhistisches Kloster,