Bhante Nyana Bodhi

ImageThis is Bhante (and me before the hair cut) and if you look closely at the robes, you’ll notice that they have paint splatters on them. He is visiting from Germany where he is the abbot of a monastery called Buddha-Haus which was founded by the Venerable Ayya Khema and has been visiting for 3 months, just checking out how things are done here. I have had the great privilege of working with him in the facilities department. We scrapped and painted 68 windows at our 3 year retreat center, Sopa Choling, many which were so bad that they required new sills. He painted all of them, all. of. them. Not to mention replacing, rebuilding, rehabbing countless other windows in the main house, painting rooms and retreat cabins and doling out meditation advice. 

This alone would have been a staggering amount of work in 3 months, and the meditation instruction was no small part. He would talk to everyone, anyone who had questions for him or wanted instruction from him. And when someone, not mentioning any names, would continually come to him when they were feeling aggressive and particularly impatient, he was kind and funny and helpful and never judgemental or making said nameless person feel like they were a hopeless case. But these aren’t even close to being the only things he did.

 

ImageThis is a the Kuan Yin statue we have here at the abbey. There is a small mountain, right behind us that has a wooden stupa to Gampo Lhatse, the protector of the monastery in Tibet of Gampopa (our namesake) and also of Gampo Abbey and along the path, there is a clearing in the woods with this statue. Bhante was unhappy with the state in which it was being maintained, or not maintained in this case. The flags were faded and tired, the statue was corroding, there were needles and branches everywhere. So he decided to clean it up. 

At the beach near the abbey, he had been stacking towers of flat rocks and balancing others, and collecting rocks that looked like hearts and putting them together in one place. It looks great and I’ve used a picture of one for my facebook profile. So to improve the area around the Kuan Yin, he chose stones from the beach, climbed up the cliff face with a rope (which is how you get there), walked about three quarters of a mile and then went up the mountain to stack them. Well, after he cleaned them up, coated them to make them shiny, stuck them together with silicone so they wouldn’t topple and then carried them up the mountain. 

While he was up there, he also replaced some rotting parts of the stupa, repainted that, cleared the path to the ‘yogi’ cave, placed some stacked stone piles on that path to mark it, cleaned out the cave etc. etc. Now there is a way to circumambulate the mountain, visiting all three landmarks along the path. It is wonderful and an enormous labor of love. 

He leaves in a few days to go back to Germany and his life there and will be missed terribly by me and I sure everyone else here. Buddha-Haus is incredibly lucky to have him as their abbot as are we to have had the time to spend with him. But every person who will visit, reside, participate in a retreat or hike at the abbey will benefit from the work he has done. Come see his work, of visit him in Germany, but meet this man if you can.

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