misc-joy

Explorations by Kenley Neufeld

Family

Interdependence and Hope

By on March 31, 2011

The theme of ACRL 2011 is interdependence. So much comes together each day to create our life experience. Some things are very tangible, like the keynote speech by Raj Patel giving very practical information about the world economy. Other things are a little less tangible, but no less real, like my wife’s support for my professional life. I also see my own past, including fears and dreams, seeking to surface.

I have a long history of seemingly radical politics, social justice efforts, and personal action to effect change in the world. In recent years I’ve probably become less radicalized because I’ve had a difficult time connecting with other radicals – the anger, the frustration, the drama are challenging.

I also have an awareness of the apparent contradictory nature of the world I live in – comfortable life, good work, professional travel, nice clothes, extreme hunger, poverty, economic collapse, environmental disaster, etc. This is my life and perhaps I judge myself to harshly. All these elements make up my being. They are connected.

Today I feel inspired to embrace this contradiction. People are so full of kindness, generosity, and intelligence. We are also full of many challenges and personal struggles. We smoke. We drink. We swear. We stumble. And yet it doesn’t mean we can’t be kind and generous. the people I’ve interacted with today demonstrate this to me.

I’m feeling the Interbeing nature of my life from experiences today. Thank you to those who touched me today. Good people are here. Please help me to keep my eyes open.

Relationships, Community, and Sexual Energy

By on January 3, 2011

I was honored to serve on the Question & Answer panel for this year’s Holiday Retreat at Deer Park Monastery with Br. Phap Hai, Sr. Mat Nghiem, Br. Phap De, Sr. Dac Nghiem, and Dharmacharya Eileen Kiera. As a Dharmacharya in training, every opportunity given to share with an audience pushes me to deepen my own practice. This is my first time serving on a panel such as this and is a rare because the panel was composed of the four fold sangha (monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen) rather than just monastics.  I have linked just the questions and responses I gave (19-minutes), as well as to the entire session (114-minutes). I spoke primary of relationships, community, and sexual energy.

Kenley Only

Complete Session – begins with a period of silent sitting

Lego League Team

By on October 14, 2010

My son is working on this year’s Lego league contest. The theme this year is body forward.

Being Happy While Acknowledging Pain

By on June 22, 2010

In the first paragraph of Being Peace, Thich Nhat Hanh explains that for a practitioner, suffering is not enough:

Life is filled with suffering, but it is also filled with many wonders, like the blue sky, the sunshine, the eyes of a baby. To suffer is not enough. We must also be in touch with the wonders of life. They are within us and all around us, everywhere, any time.

This Thursday evening I have been invited to lead the Still Water Sangha in Silver Spring (just outside Washington DC). After our sitting, we will explore together how we can be happy while acknowledging the pain that is in us and around us.

At the close of the annual teen retreat this week at Deer Park Monastery, I had the opportunity to talk with a 13-year old boy. He asked, “What does it mean to be happy?” He followed up with another question, “How do you be happy when a friend brings up an experience from the past that is difficult and still is painful?”

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Cultivating the Family Garden

By on May 11, 2010

I am writing with a request; a request to reflect about friends and family in your life who may benefit more from the practice.

For the past 6-8 years, the monastery at Deer Park has offered two retreats in the summer – one for teens only (ages 13-17) and another for families. I have attended both these retreats and have found them very nourishing and joyful. The family retreat is particularly diverse, and brings together people from many walks of life and with a wide variety of experience with the practice. The teen retreat is less diverse, but those who attend have reported a life changing experience, and often return the following year bringing more friends. For the teen retreat, no parents are allowed and the teens camp together for the entire retreat. It really is a blast!

If you are in a sangha, I encourage you to share about these retreats in your sangha. Think about people in your life who may benefit from such a retreat, even those who are not regular practitioners, and then invite them to attend. I think teens would particularly benefit. Each year these retreats grow and they are, in my opinion, the best retreats offered by Deer Park.

In the years our family has attended the Family Retreat, I have watched my children and the children of others grow from toddlers to young children and into early teens. Wow! And now, starting in the last year or so many of these families are starting to come to Deer Park at other times during the year. It is a real community.

Though the family retreat has many children in attendance (40-50 kids!), other types of family units also attend and participate. One year, a family came together with four generations! Another time an adult son came with his mom to spend time together on the mountain

Please consider joining us this year.

Teen Camp – Rebel Buddha!
June 16 – 20

Family Retreat – Opening the Family Up
June 30 – July 4

Joyful Tet Celebration

By on February 15, 2010

Tet is the Lunar New Year for the Vietnamese community. Our family is very close to the Vietnamese because our Teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, is Vietnamese. We came to Deer Park Monastery in Escondido to celebrate Tet with out brothers and sisters.

Dragon and lion dances. Firecrackers. Drumming. Laughter. Lisi (red envelopes with money). Generosity.

Today is the second day of the new year. It is the only day in the year that lay people (non-monastic) may visit the quarters of the monks and nuns. What joy!

As we travel from room to room, carrying our glasses, we share tea, cider, snacks, and songs. Interspersed with visits by drums and dragon for us to offer up oranges and snacks to the beast.

The monastics live in simple quarters. Some sleep on the floor, others on thin mats. A few books, some clothes, and an altar are usually in each room. They share their space and their tea.

It is a lesson in simplicity. It is a lesson in friendship. It is a lesson in generosity.

May your tiger year be healthy and may your life be long.

(posting from iPhone; links and pix may arrive later)

Discoveries in Fasting

By on August 3, 2009

It has been eight years since the last time I fasted – it was in late 2001 – and for that fast I practiced in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters by fasting from sunrise to sunset for a couple of weeks.

Recently I was sharing about a personal relationship issue with a monastic friend and teacher and he suggested I start with a period of fasting. I was not completely clear on how this could help or be related, but I trust my friend and know that fasting is a common practice in the monastery. The intention here is not a detox fast, but one of a more spiritual nature. I started practicing with the fast for a 1-2 weeks by fasting for dinner. It wasn’t too difficult to eat two meals a day, the most difficult time being late afternoon. This did raise my confidence and understanding in fasting.

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