Ayya Anopama and Riët Aarsse offered a Vesak Day celebration in the iSangha virtual meditation hall which was well attended by many guests and monastics from around the world. There was the possibility to take the refuges and precepts, as well as connecting with other participants and contemplating Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. It was far from the usual Vesak day celebrations. There was a large diversity of people in terms of gender, race and nationality, everybody coming together in this virtual space, sharing this day of celebrating the birth, enlightenment and passing away of the Buddha.
During this very special celebration, due to the lockdown, we could feel more connected with the world in our shared predicament.
We wish to extend a very heartfelt SADHU! to Ayya Anopama and Riët for their sharing of the Dhamma in these difficult times and to the Vipassana Meditatie Centrum Groningen for offering Ayya Anopama temporary refuge, enabling her to do this valuable work. These are very precious gifts indeed.
This is what participants said:
In the vipassana-Meditation center Groningen we celebrate Vesak for the past 10 years: the birthday, Enlightenment and the death of the historical Buddha. This year our guest, Ayya Anopama, who has been staying in the centre since end of March, gave substance to the Vesak celebration together with Riët Aarsse. Through the international networks of both women and Tilorien Monastery’s iSangha it became an worldwide Sangha gaterhing on the day. So there were a Lithuanian and a Colombian nun, both studying in Burma, a Dutch monk meditating in a Thai forest, participants from Singapore, India, the US and from across Europe. That gave an inspiring experience of interconnectedness in a virtual meditation hall. The traditional chanting for taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha was alternated with Insight Dialogue. The guidelines of Insight Dialogue are also like an international language, which made it possible to contemplate together how the Dhamma resonates for us and how Sangha takes shape. We have been able to indulge in the gratitude and joy of the Dhamma.
Ank Schravendeel – guiding teacher of Vipassana Meditatie Centrum Groningen
The morning was a well-balanced flow of arriving and settling in, taking refuges and chanting precepts, hearing each others’ voices and contemplating Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. So far, this is what you would expect on a day like this – but of course, it was not a usual Vesak day at all. We were not sitting in a Dharma hall, but in a virtual Zoom room. Through the rectangles on the screen shone a wide range of diversity – in terms of nationality, location, time zone, age, gender, tradition. Some in robes. Some sitting, some standing, some walking. Some at home, some out in nature. And all coming together in this virtual space, sharing this day of celebrating the birth, awakening and passing away of the Buddha. For contemplating the three gems, we entered into a format called Insight Dialogue. This gave us the opportunity to drop from an intellectual understanding to exploring the felt sense: What is meaningful for me when I think about the Buddha? What understanding of Dharma resonates with me? How do I experience Sangha? Sharing our reflections and receiving the ones of our dialogue partners, sitting in front of a laptop, we got a sense of what the vision of a globally connected Sangha could feel like.
Juliane, Bochum, Germany
For me then the Buddha is the seed within my heart which reminds me to aspire to attain full liberation. The Dharma is the Path of the Teachings handed down over time and is everywhere reflected back through the natural world. Nature tells me then that black follows blue, the opening and the closing of life every day. I humbly accept that my time is not infinite like the Buddha’s for I will, soon pass away in the blink of an eye. Being thus in nature reminds me too of my true nature within, in its purest form of unknowingness. The Sangha I seek around me for they are to me a million beautiful flowers of every colour and hue. Some are tightly closed buds awaiting the warmth and sunshine of a fellow seeker to wake them up. Some are now in full bloom and I often see this in the shining faces of the Ordained. Then there are the fallen flowers, the faded flowers, so beautiful are they in their fading away sure to be born again from their seeds into the mighty oak or the tiny milkmaid flower in the long, long grasses or as a million awakened beings.
C.F. Osadnik, Dorset, UK
Found home in Tilorien
found dhamma friends
in expression and quietness.
Hold you deeply Triple Gem
on the full moon of May
on the fulfilling Celebration of Vesak.
Brought these humble words of rejoice
with the sublime aspiration:
May we all be as light as haldi butterflies.
Lu S, La Ronda, Valdepares, Spain