A constant feeling of consternation and curiosity combined together, a mind filled with thoughts that are unnecessary, a dormant way of thinking. That was how I felt before the five days pilgrimage began at Pondok Sadhana Amitayus, Cipayung, West Java. Well, it was not exactly a pilgrimage as I just spent the days at one place but it was definitely a journey for my soul.
KMVB UPH (Keluarga Mahasiswa Vidya Buddhis, Universitas Pelita Harapan) hosted an event called “Fun with Dharma” which basically means learning Dharma in a fun way. It was hosted in Cipayung, at a place called Pondok Sadhana Amitayus. It was led by Bhante Nyanabhadra (Br. Pháp Tử), a student of the world-renowned Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh. Bhante Nyanabhadra faced through many challenges in order to become one of 800 disciples of this great Zen master.
The challenges surely created many experiences for him because I can feel the knowledge emitting from his mouth every time he answered one of our stupid question. Stupid questions lead to great replies and great replies led to a great quote. “Do your best but not to be the best!” One of the spontaneous quote that he made during the Dharma Talk.
I can feel the burgeoning growth of my soul after listening talk about the principles of Buddhism. The ever-increasing Dharma knowledge about Buddhism. What is admirable about Bhante Nyanabhadra is his open-mindedness towards everyone’s perspective. Some might criticize him about how he acts but no matter what, people cannot criticize the way he pour the Dharma into us. It was poured in the most simplistic way, thus I can understand them easily.
For instance, I asked a very difficult question about finding the right partner and although, sometimes he found the questions rather complicated and unanswerable, he still provided us the best possible solution that he can think of. Not only that, the solution he provided was not biased in any way because he demonstrated his answer with perspectives not only his but also others’ perspectives. In the end of every Dharma talk session, he would say “Do not believe 100% of what I have said, always take time to digest them.” I was in awe of his modesty despite his achievements and intelligence.
It was not just Bhante Nyanabhadra that made the pilgrimage whole, but also the system. What I meant by system is how we eat, walk, taking the stairs, meditate, stopping when the clock chimes every 15 minutes and many others. Just by the way we eat, we were growing as a family of friends; because we have to wait for everyone to get their food and sit on our little circle of awkwardness. It was awkward at first, but the results were magnificent.
The solidarity, the sense of belonging, the feeling of a family; all of that dormant feelings woke up from their dreams. Furthermore, with the 15 minutes of constant chiming created a more unique sensation. Bhante Nyanabhadra instructed us to go back to our breath every time the clock chimes. Therefore, I have to stop and observe our pattern of breathing when I hear the ‘bell’ sound. It was strange at first but one of the funniest moments was probably invented there.
We consistently meditated at 5:30 am in the morning for 5 consecutive days. There was sitting meditation, walking meditation, and mindful movements. The sitting meditation lasted about 20-30 minutes in which Bhante Nyanabhadra gives simple instructions such as “Breathing in, I am aware of my in breath. Breathing out, I am aware of my out breath.” It helped us to get into the zone.
Afterwards, we did some walking meditation indoor and outdoor. In the case of outdoor, we ambled and ventured in the nature behind the house. Being in the present moment that I was, I observed how the leaves dancing when the wind blew past them; the grass gently kissing our feet; the mountains spreading across the horizon; the boundless blue sky; the tinkling sound of the bell.
All in all, the Amitayus pilgrimage experience was absolutely a good way to end our exam and start our holiday. The experiences that I obtained during this event was priceless and it was all thanks to our karma that I was able to attend “Fun With Dharma” with many other friends. I cannot say that I have completely understood Buddha’s teachings however, I for sure gained a drop of enlightenment in the boundless ocean of Buddha’s teachings.
One of the participant, student of Universitas Pelita Harapan, member of Keluarga Mahasiswa Vidya Buddhis