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My awareness, your awareness. Let’s share our awakening! – Report on the 16th Spring School.

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This year, we welcomed 12 young pupils ages 12 and 13 from Japan. It was the longest session in the history of Spring School and they spent in total 18 days in England. To be honest, all the adult residents of Three Wheels were physically exhausted but all participants’ splendid impressions refreshed our minds and gave us tremendous joy and energy to continue the Dharma activities at Three Wheels.

After the welcome talk given by Rev. Sato at the opening ceremony, Hiroko-san gave a short talk about her visit to Plum Village. She spoke about what she learnt from her visit and focused on three things. They were the importance of saying “I’m sorry”, “thank you” and “to smile”. Her really friendly and easy to understand talk melted the hearts of everyone, from children to adults, and gave us a new view and a bright direction. Also her talk naturally asked all of us whether or not we are actually doing these important things, in our daily lives, which even 5-year-old children can do. Hiroko-san’s talk not only opened Spring School but also opened our eyes.

This year too, after the opening ceremony of Spring School, Professor John White gave an explanation of the garden, and one of his poems was gifted to each of the Spring School pupils. Two young priests, Junsho and Shinjun, chose a poem in advance from John’s collections of poems. What they choose was the one below, which was read when John visited Shogyoji Temple for the first time.

 

You of pure
faith,

I,
who am certain
of nothing,

travel
the one
road.

 

This poem became the best gift for them and for me, too from John.

 

During the Spring School, the children were really fascinated by the character of London as well as enjoying Cumbria’s great natural beauty. However, the majority of each of their impressions was occupied with their apologies and thankfulness. Let me introduce one of their impressions. Through reading the Sutra on the Importance of What Has Been Done for You by Your Parents, their awareness of themselves let them say “sorry for being such selfish person” and their awareness of parental love let them say “thank you for your love and for not forsaking such selfish person like me”. Following this year’s theme “My awareness, your awareness. Let’s share our awakening”, every morning and evening, all the pupils shared what they felt today illumined by others. Sharing their awareness also helped each other. By making others sympathize with what one had realised about oneself the process of sharing could sometimes even deepen others awareness of themselves. This affected not only the children but also the adults.

The Spring School pupils have only just started their spiritual journey of discovering themselves, which must take the whole their lives. Being involved in the start of their journey, I really felt that the students who are the children of Dharma friends became themselves my Dharma friends.

Gassho,

Rev. Kenshin H. Ishii