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forest sangha newsletter

October        2007               2550                 Number  81
The Forest Sangha is a world-wide Buddhist community
in the Thai Forest tradition of Ajahn Chah


You know how it starts out.

You take yourself out into the late sun burning stands of
winter birch. You clear a small damp circle of earth and
put fire to the pages you have with you – Dhamma notes,
a sheaf of musings. And they do not burn.

Then it’s a few parchment chestnut leaves, twigs of birch. And,
somehow, you find yourself sitting down, wrapped in your
grandmother’s blanket, by a small vibrant fire in an in-pressing dark,
where even the stars are unwilling. Sitting there – the person who once
sent you marshmallows dead – with the flickering uncertainty of twigs.

And there it is. One small thing having flared into a happening.
Life growing moment-to-moment, warming, sheltering: the
pungent-sweet smoke of elderberry burning, the familiar
front-hot/back-cold, and the loveliness of keeping company
with the Night herself.

She sings to me, and the fire sings to be fed – a call and response,
a counter-point, an evocation of release.

Yes, what happens when the pile you’d collected is burnt
and everything around you is burnt? The fire goes out.
Embers glow and cool. Night reveals her full resplendence.

Nothing added, burning ceases: take heart.




An eagle slices its way through a sky deep
with snow. Following the river-flow that has

discarded these in-pressing mountains
this flat white-out: winged curve, it too sweeps

this ever-deepening channel. An up-thrust
of millennia, a ceaseless attrition, and this

body's brief purchase – fluvial elements –
all fall under the shadow of its flight.

What if you saw everything was doing exactly
the right thing, would you soar, riffling radical wings?



Angophora’s Welcome

She stands grand, guarding the entrance to my cave.

She is the guardian protecting, welcoming me in
Offering encouragement.
She is not ashamed. She does not hide her nature nor her presence.
Handsome, strong, ancient and powerful woman of the
Tree people.
She welcomes me into myself.

Rejoice. You are woman.
Feeling things deeply you process the pain of the world and give back life.

So far from myself
I do not know what I feel,
The characteristics of my own personality
Or what drives me.

It is a crying shame
Cycles repeat and women do to each other what has been done to them.

Aching for the birth of a relational way
Where feelings are received,
Essence is valued
And power an aspect of presence.

Aching for the healing of past mistakes that have left scars
For balance to be restored
And to find her true voice
Authentic power
And place of purpose

Full of life living potential,
Smelling the aroma of Earth Mother in the change of a day.
Feeling the vitality, fecundity,
Life force as it surges through me.

Embracing Life, creation, and utterly chaste.
Holding sacred the longing for truth.

Ferns uncurl in the wetness,
Waterfalls fall into
The hollow pool below.
The lichen grows in the tree hollow.
The red bark of the manzanita glisten in the rain.
The mist people dance through the canyon.

Earth Mother pulls us
Back into ourselves before she devours us in the night.

Holds us
Until she shows nothing can last or be held.

Both hearts bleeding, tears fall, rejoicing.
Angophora’s welcome.

Ajahn Thanasanti

Note: Angophoras are trees that are prevalent in Australia.

Surrender sliding down
into this wonderful abyss.
How simple! How amazing!
Just the way it is.

Sr Santacitta






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