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An Auspicious Occasion

16 Apr 2018 5:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

With gratitude to Jacqulyn Schuett for this sharing

Sharp sounds of the han emanating from the meditation hall’s back porch invited everyone to gather around the site of the Great Cloud Refuge, FCM’s soon-to-be-built residential home. The patch of dirt that was once the caretaker’s cottage was surrounded by colorful prayer flags and on the east side stood an altar with four clear bowls of water. Participants heard the han quicken to a flurry of piercing sounds and come to an abrupt stop. Then came the more familiar sound of the large temple bell as the ceremonial procession emerged from the meditation hall.

Incense led the way for our teacher, four monastic guests and five FCM members who followed, carrying beautiful consecration vessels. Members of the procession offered incense on behalf of the entire community as the vessels were placed on the outside altar. A prayer of gratitude acknowledged the people of the past who have used the land and expressed the aspiration to bring benefit to the ones in the future who will inhabit the grounds – that they, and the beauty of the Refuge may contribute to the harmony of the neighborhood and the world. The community joined Fred in reciting The Three Refuges – the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Using the bowls of water that had been offered on the altar and long-stemmed red roses, blessings were bestowed on the site by Brother Radiant, Brother Dharma Emptiness, Sister Flower Adornment and Sister True Practice.

While the community chanted the Heart Sutra, the monastics accompanied Angie, Betsy, Fred, Sam, Rich and Alex as the four blue treasure vessels were placed in the ground at the four corners of the future Refuge and the fifth one, larger and adorned with butterflies, was lowered into the ground at the center of the site. Inspired by the words of Patrul Rinpoche, Fred offered a most beautiful dedication prayer affirming the heartfelt intention for transformation and liberation to be realized through this Refuge and the continuing efforts of the Florida Community of Mindfulness. Then aspirations written by members of the community filled the air as they were read simultaneously from the four corners. The words ‘may we be well’ concluded the ceremony with everyone joining Tim Hamm for the Metta Song.

April 8 marked the auspicious occasion of the Great Cloud Refuge Consecration Ceremony. Our community had the good fortune to host the Board of the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation at just the time when a ceremony was planned. The lay and monastic board members provided a tangible connection to the greater Plum Village Community. The connection to the Tibetan stream of Dharma was heard as Fred read his adaptation of Patrul Rinpoche’s dedication prayer. A few people noted another, perhaps, auspicious sign when the colorful and gilded ceramic incense bowl cracked as Fred read the prayer.

Countless hours, gifts and acts of generosity led up to this beautiful ceremony. In the days preceding the ceremony many precious articles were left at the Center to be placed in the consecration vessels – small Buddhas, tiny prayer flags, precious gems and semiprecious stones. People made tiny scrolls of miniature copies of sutras and Buddha images. The aspirations shared by sangha members were sweetly calligraphed so that they would be exquisitely articulated within the vessels. On Saturday the meditation hall was cleaned and prepared. The grounds were groomed and the flags were hung. The precious objects and little scrolls were delicately placed in treasure vessels with reverence and deep aspiration.

Early Sunday the outdoor altar and its adornments were completed as the tech team positioned the sound equipment. At the same time, the vessels were beautifully sealed with copper by skilled mindful hands and brought to the altar in the meditation hall so members of the community could meditate in their presence – offering their energy and intentions for what Great Cloud will become.

During his Dharma talk just before the ceremony, Brother Radiant referred to the beloved community. All who shared in and contributed to this experience know the preciousness of ‘the beloved community.’ Deep gratitude to the Three Jewels and to our dear teacher.

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