Still Retreating

Blogging is still on the back burner for me for a while but I wanted to share this poem with you.  It was written by a senior Buddhist monk of the Thai Forest Tradition called Ajahn Kalyano whom I met at a retreat centre last weekend.  I’ve been on quite a few retreats at this centre – Sunyata – before but this time was a bit different.  While Ajahn Kalyano is in residence, Sunyata is being run as a monastery.  This means, amongst other things, that residents try to abide by eight precepts, the spirit of which is summed up in Ajahn Kalyano’s poem below.  I think it is a beautiful way to show that the precepts are not about denial or self-punishment but about love and dharma.


Every man is our brother.

Every woman is our sister.

Everything we have is a gift.

All the food we eat is shared.

The front door is always open.


We have enough spirit, we’ve no need of a drink.

We don’t look for beautiful things we make everything beautiful.

With love.

We don’t make or listen to music we make all sounds into music

With love.

We don’t watch movies we make our life into a movie.

With love.

And when every man is our brother

And every woman is our sister

Sexual desire does not arise.

And truly awake we can find truth in peace and peace in truth.


Posted on June 18, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. Wonderful poem! But…”Sexual desire does not arise.” is good only for a monastery. Every couple should have 2.1 children or population of a country will decrease and it will cause many problems.


  2. GLAD TO HEAR FROM YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  3. Good to see you again!!! You were missed.


  4. This is such a beautiful poem Sarah! I’m glad you’re receiving spiritual sustenance at the retreats!
    Thanks for sharing this lovely piece.


  5. Thank you Sarah for sharing this profound words to live by. Enjoy your retreat.


    • Thank you Perpetua. I enjoyed the retreat very much and I’m trying to continue to live in the spirit of the retreat here at home. I hope you have a peaceful day. 🙂


  6. So good to hear you’re in the spirit of sharing with us such wonderful words, Sarah.


  7. I loved the poem — how everything is interconnected — everything emanates from love. I only recently think I am able to understand the line “sexual desire does not arise”. I interpret it on two levels. One: if you are connected with Source — then you are experiencing an euphoric state that is more joyous and passionate … then sexual desire — why would you have a desire for something that is less? And two: there is a difference between two people “making love” for sexual desire and two people “making love” as a spiritual union. If you’re uniting from a place of pure love then why would you settle for sex when you can have a spiritual union? Does this make sense? Is this close to what the monk is saying in the poem? I’m glad your retreat was so peaceful.


    • Hi Colleen, I’m glad you enjoyed the poem. I don’t really feel qualified to answer your questions but I will give it a go. Thank you for making me think. 🙂
      Buddhists are encouraged to abide by certain precepts which assist their practice. Depending on how strict you want to be and how deep your practice is you can take more and stricter precepts. So, for example, you might start by abiding by the precept to avoid sexual misconduct (that’s basically sex that causes harm). Then, on retreat, you might try to abide by the precept to not engage in sexual activities at all. As I understand it, the main aim of the precepts is to avoid things that agitate the mind, and things that aren’t conducive to meditation and skilful behaviour. A side effect, for me anyway, is to make the atmosphere of a retreat feel safer, less complicated and more friendly. The situation of “sexual desire not arising” that the poem speaks of is the ideal situation to have in a monastery where, as you say, there is no desire for something that is less than the state you achieve by following Buddha’s teachings. The poem is specifically about a retreat situation where concerns about sex can be set aside for a time. It makes things more peaceful, don’t you think? I agree with what you’re saying about spiritual versus sexual unions but I don’t know how to answer in the context of the poem. I don’t think that “making love” even as a spiritual union is something that would be a good idea in a monastery setting. Do I sound like a terrible prig? 😀 I’m not really. 😉 Wow, tough questions.


  8. No you definitely do not sound like a prig. I would imagine that on a retreat you are trying to set aside as many “worldly” or physical needs as possible so as to focus on meditation and peace. I don’t think it probably would go over very well at the monastery.:D


  9. Hi Sarah, I had no idea you had returned to blog again.. Nice poem.. I would like to share on facebook, can I? – thanks so much. eve


    • Hi Eve, I think that would be okay. When Ajahn Kalyano gave me permission to share it on my blog he must have realised that he was making it publicly available. Please give him credit though. 🙂


  10. Compassionately written…I feel serenity through this..thank you:)


  11. Very beautiful and so wise. Thank for sharing.


  12. Very educative and enriching. I am sure adhering to the the eight precepts at Sunyata helps in the meditative practices.
    Thank you and regards.


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