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The world and beyond - reflections of a dharma nomad

Indian Zen

INDIA | Monday, 10 March 2008 | Views [802] | Comments [2]

 I am settled at a computer on a dripping hot Tamil Nadu afternoon. No power for the fans, but the computers have a generator! I have just come down from the blissful hills of the Western Ghats which so reminded me of Scotland in its cool evenings and misty mountain walks. I went up there with a lovely Scots  woman who knew lots of my old friends from Edinburgh so we had lots of reminiscing walking the hills and over the fire we lit in the chilly hostel room. Then she went of hiking and I went on a retreat - at the only Zen centre in India. Five days of solid spacious SILENCE!! I mean it really was quiet and you have no idea how rare that is in India . No car horns, no inane radio blaring, no machinery. Yes there was birdsong and the wind in the trees - as every good retreat should have. And of course the endless chatter of my monkey mind swinging through the branches of the future, playing with old treasures of the past, and occasionally glimpsing the space in between. The priest was gentle and humble and very special.  According to his book blurb he attained enlightenment after following Ramana Maharshi, and then his enlightenment was confirmed by a Zen master with whom he trained in both sitting and koan practice.  You could meet him for a brief interview twice every day if you wanted.  The forty other folk on the retreat were very stable and  supportive. I had to attend every session (eight hours/day) because my cushion neighbours would have been worried if I hadn't been there. And when we all spoke at the end it was friendly and relaxed and I stayed an extra day. I met an Italian Zen garden  designer who invited me back to Auroville (source of the nice incense) which is a mecca of alternative living in Tamil Nadu - a huge project in intentional community.  It was great to go there and get an insider tour of the gardens and meditation hall and organic, solar cafes!! We cycled round the forested area, meeting lots of other Italians, and enjoying the musical and other celebrations of Auroville's fortieth birthday.  The community has achieved many good things - developing water purification systems and gardening systems for drought ridden areas, as well as massive reforestation of the surrounding area, and lots of other wholesome businesses.  I met a number of people who had been there for months, and there are 2000 or so residents from all over the world.  But three days was enough for me and I was happy to get on the bus to Tiruvanamalai - 31 rupees, which I thought was very cheap until four hours later in the heat when the horn was still blaring and I still hadn't arrived (it is a two and a half hour journey)... 

Tags: Relaxation



Is it possible to get contact information for the Zen center that is described here? Looks like just what I'm looking for! Thanks.

  Teri Aug 17, 2011 11:33 AM


Look up Bodhizendo.com
It is a really special place and you may have to book quite a way in advance.

  joyful_jo Aug 24, 2011 2:41 AM

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