At the age of 16, I discovered the Buddha Dharma because of a paper I was required to write in high school on a religion other than Judeo-Christian. As I reflected on what I was reading about Buddhism, I felt like I had found ‘home‘. My heartfelt thought was, “This makes such great sense.”
During much of my life, until I first discovered & then eventually deeply connected with the Buddha Dharma, I often experienced various degrees of alienation, separateness, feeling different, alone, lonely & not part of the ‘weave‘/the culture of ‘ordinary‘ American life. Because of the family that I grew up in & the cultural, non-competitive, social, political, religious & deeply compassionate values that I was raised with, I never felt like I ‘fit in‘. When I began pursuing the Buddha Dharma, over time I found ‘home‘ in the midst of it all.
Of course, I spent years trying out various Dharma ‘shoes‘ – learning a great deal & being well fed with each step, with each bite taken – before eventually finding that the Theravada shoes & food fit the best & were the most nourishing. And so I dropped more fully & deeply into the exquisite garden of Theravada Buddhism. As the years have rolled on & blossomed, I have never had any doubt that the Buddha Dharma is ‘home‘ no matter where I am, what I’m engaged in, who I’m with… in any situation, in any place in the world.
Seventeen years ago – after four & a half years spent as resident teacher for staff at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA, as well as many years teaching the Buddha Dharma in the U.S. & internationally – I & a small group of dedicated Dharma students founded The Mountain Hermitage in Taos, New Mexico. I have been the founding & guiding teacher since our beginning. Over all these years, we have offered many wonderful retreats for a full house of sixteen students, with incredibly fine teachers & with many of our retreats oriented for more experienced students. A successful & gratifying aspect of our Mountain Hermitage offerings has been our vision & mission of offering substantial scholarship support for those who would not be able to attend a Mountain Hermitage retreat without this help, including monastics who are welcomed to attend any TMH retreat for free. I am also filled with joy & gratitude that promotion & support of diversity among our teachers & retreat participants – another primary aspect of our TMH vision – continues to blossom & manifest.
Being part of the unfolding & flowering of The Mountain Hermitage has been & continues to be a gift of boundless benefit & value over the years for those who have come to learn & practice at TMH retreats, for each & every teacher who has offered teachings, for everyone who has been & is on the Hermitage staff, and for myself as guiding teacher.
And so here I am now, soon stepping into my 80th year of life. This year, I have stopped teaching residential retreats at The Mountain Hermitage or anywhere else. Going forward, TMH will continue offering retreats with a wonderful array of teachers, and I will continue as The Mountain Hermitage guiding teacher for as long as I’m able. I’ll also continue to meet one-on-one with a limited number of students for practice meetings, in-person or via telephone or Zoom, and I will continue to offer a mini-residency with the Santa Fe Vipassana Sangha once or twice each year. I may also offer occasional one-month study & practice classes on a weekly basis in Taos. And I look forward to spending time in my clay studio making pottery & sculpture, and outside gardening when that is in season.
The Buddha Dharma in its timelessness & its continuing relevancy in today’s challenging & beautiful world will always be ‘home‘ no matter where I am, what I’m engaged in or who I’m with… in any situation, any place in the world.
With metta & a deep bow of gratitude,
All flower photos from Marcia’s garden.