Sunday, 5 April 2009
During the four years that I have been living a monastic I have had times of contentment and times of struggle and depression.
For some time now I have been contemplating leaving the monastic life and it is for this very reason that I am writing to you to let you know of the out come of my struggles with the thoughts of leaving the monastic order.
I have decided that I have reached a point where I feel I would like to leave the homeless life and return to the home, the reasons why are below.
My father is unwell and is not getting better unless he has the help of someone to care for him. This has been something that has weighed on my mind and something that would continue to weigh it down knowing that my father is unwell and that it is possible for me to do something to help him yet remaining as a monk would hinder such help. Being a monastic means depending on the kindness of others in order to survive, and there are many of the monastic rules which make looking after someone on a full time basis a difficult task.
This by no means means that I am a savour for my father, far from it, but rather something I can help him with and is something which is long term.
There are also my own personal difficulties. While being a monk I have had times of great joy and also of great sadness. Monastic life is something which is a beautiful thing. Living in a community has it's challenges and also it's great benefits. Underneath all of that, it is not the monasteries' environment which leads me to disrobe, far from it indeed, but is my own internal struggle. There is no who i have fallen in love and disrobing for, so there are no good looking men or women waiting for me at the gate of the monastery.
One thing which has weighed me down is education, or lack thereof. After leaving the monastic life I would like to complete my education. I believe that it will be able to fill some of the holes in my life and also boost my confidence which I lack, after being in the monastic life or this period of time it has now given me the strength to do so.
So where to from here? Well, after disrobing I plan to live with my father as his carer and at the beginning of next year to enroll in completing my education. I know that leaving the monastic life is going to have a transition period that is going to be one of great pain, difficulties and acceptance.
Many of my fellow friends and supporters believed and had place a lot of inspiration and faith in me, but for myself, I am too hard on myself and unable to accept my own moral faults, I lack the internal confidence to accept the truth of their trust they placed in me.
So, I would like to thank everyone who has helped me and supported me in my time leading the holy life and it is least I can do in order to thank them, to be myself and to lead my life in the which in which I feel I now need to grow. I have had a lot of support in this difficult time and it is nice to know how much friendship i truly have.
I plan to disrobe on the 6th of April 2009 6am
The parting from the monastic life tares my heart but it is the way in which I now must go.
David (Tapassi Bhikkhu)
P.S. If you would like to keep in touch or contact me please feel free to do so.
15/07/09 - Due to the amount of response i have received from this post i have added my facebook details so that people who wish to follow what i am up to now can do so by either following my new blog or adding me to facebook.
04/09/2013 - Due to safety concerns, I've had to remove my facebook, personal email and blog details. If you wish to get into contact with me, please send an email to email@example.com - all mail being sent to this address is forwarded to my personal email account.
I have also removed all previous blog entries due to safety concerns. All previous blog will be available again soon.
Friday, 20 February 2009
One of the reasons for the this 'training period' is because there are two Anagarikās who will be taking the Samanerī ordination around May this year. santi is still growing and at the moment we have 5 anagarikās and and other two underway, all going well but of course!
The two latest Anagarikās is Annie from WA and Shirley from Hong Kong, both i get along with very well.
Communal life is a rather interesting one with its hight and lows, good points and bad points, joyful moments and pain ones, friendship and difficulties but it is amazing the people that are living here and the amount of talent of the people is incredible and thus perhaps the reason for the sometime difficulties, or perhaps this is jsut a delusion and it happens everywhere!
Sunday, 14 December 2008
Things are a little hectic at the moment since i have returned because i have been out of the office and also things at Santi have been quite busy with building etc. The building work here at Santi looks great and you can see some of the great improvements here and here. The Dhamma talks have been out of action here during the renovations buy they are going to be starting up again this Wednesday in the beautiful shrine room upstairs.
Bodhinyana was interesting to say the least. I got to understand a bit better who women feel in monasteries and the who the monks act, feel and think. This is something which i was sheltered from and only knew in theory. It was really nice to be with more monks as there are not many at Santi and i feel isolated at times, i was able to make new friends which is always nice. The first part of my stay was quite painful for me since i heard a lot of criticism about Santi. that was really hard to deal with since although i knew that people might do such a thing i never received it directly face to face, yet again this was something which i was sheltered from at Santi, i think that this is actually natural since whatever monastery we are from we think ours to be the best and others are doing things in funny and wrong ways.
I think one of the really bad qualities of Buddhists. You hear so much criticism of other monasteries and teachers, i think we as a whole we need to talk about this and restrain ourselves from such behavior that is unworthily and unwholesome. It is so much easier to criticise others from a distance especially when we don't know they very well but once we have made a connection and friendly relations with them it is hard to do so.
I also got to visit Dhammasara 2 times Ajahn Vayama is unwell due to a neurological problem. You can see the difference of how the nuns welcome the monks compare to how the monks welcome nuns. I guess there is a long way to go in terms of the monastic community and outward support to nuns. One thing to reflect on is the sutta where the Buddha talks about having acts of loving kindness to our fellows in the holylife both internal and external, both in public and in private. It was great to be able to sis Ajahn Vayama, Ven. Nirodha and Ven. Seri who are friends or mine, it brings we great joy to be around nuns for some reason.
I also got to go on the retreat with Ajahn Brahm which was good to see how he teaches people since i got to attend some of the interviews with the people on the retreat, also the Dhamma talks are fantastic and there is a lot to learn there, lucky i have the recordings of the retreat so at one point i should go back over it to remember some of and clarify some of the things which he said.
Going to other places shows how little there is in the world for the support of that which we are doing, well it is better to say there is moral support but less proactive support. There is a need for a health spiritual relationship with the femininity both internal and external, the ideal one being that of the sister, there needs to be someone you can see who is growing in the dhamma with you and seeing this will hopefully lessen the feel that woman are a threat to monastic life but rather someone who is human and is stuck in the net of life call samsara just like ourselves. Reducing contact to absolutely nothing leads to an idealification of women and the lay life. since there is no contact with woman at Bodhinyana there only leads to the mind wondering and dreaming what it i like to be with a woman. I would have to say that Bodhinyana is a boys club and if as a women if you wish to go there you will mostly likely feel you are pushed into a corner, left alone, given no attention and seen as a threat where you have only 30mins a day access to the library and have to eat your breakfast away from everyone in your room.
One thing which Bhante Sujato talks about is that there are 3, ways in which you can see women as a monk. i like to add another of the temptress
- One is that of a mother. The lovely kind and generous support from the lay women who come to offer the food each day, it is like that of our mother who provided for us for most of our life and always wanted us to have enough
- is that of the daughter. The daughter is the enthusiastic woman who comes to us to learn meditation and the Dhamma.
- is the sister. She is the person we have grown up together with, we have shared our pain and a highs in life, she is our equal in the holy life.
- is that of the temptress. she is there to pull us away from the goal of enlightenment and to entangle us in the net of attachment. We know of the ways of the temptress but can't see to see to be able to let go of her her energy which sucks us out from within. she is the evil one which we must avoid at all costs.
Which is the one that is missing from the monks life? it is that of the sister. If we when we were growing up never had a sister it is hard to have a health relationship with woman and the same is for women in the opposite. so if we in monastic life do not have a monastic sister then it is all to easy to make all women into the temptress.
Opening the doors and having a place that supports women brings to your attention a lot of the pain and suffering which woman feel in monasteries as they open up and tell you of their experiences, such information rarely comes to the attention of the monks which perhaps change them a little if they were to understand the suffering which is felt, for knowing that someone sufferers there is a want to help them to end it.
What i do know that this monastic path is a difficult one and that those who follow it have incredible strength. we as monastics need to support each other since we have no one else other then the Sangha who can understand what monastic life is, if we cannot support each other what hope is there in the world? supporting nuns in modern Theravada tradition is one of the most important things that we can do other then the attainment of enlightenment.
So let us all work together for the ending of suffering and for the the support of the whole monastic community.
You can see more pictures of Bodhinyana here.
Friday, 19 September 2008
Once you had silver,
Then came the rains
Out of the blue.
Ever and always.
Always and ever.
Time gave both darkness and
dreams to you.
Now you can see
Spring becomes autumn,
Leaves become gold
Falling from view.
Ever and always.
Always and ever.
No-one can promise a dream come true,
Time gave both darkness and
dreams to you.
What is the dark;
Shadows around you,
Why not take heart
In the new day?
Ever and always.
Always and ever.
No-one can promise a dream for you,
Time gave both darkness and
dreams to you.
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
I had a visit from one of my old friends, Lolly. we talked and chatted about my life now and also we talked about mutual friends and people we know. Lolly was doing a project for her last year in journalism and she had to do something on the most interesting person she knew and for some reason i am it! you can see pictures of the visit here.
If anyone is interested then they can have a look at my old blog entries from my lay days here.
Spring is arriving. we had one hot day which also rained and then tonight it has got cold again. Now the flowers will come out and Bundanoon will be in blossom.
We had two delightful young Sri Lankan monks visit that day, they are monks from Ven. Nyanananada's monastery in Sri Lanka. they came with large group. We took a long walk of the monastery. Thunder was rumbling and we made it back out just before the downpour. The weekend before was an Open Day.
Renovations have finally started on the main house here. We're so over-crowded, the plan is to take out the interior stairs and open up the second story into one big multi-purpose shrine room/sala/library. The first stage is to build a new stairway at the back of the house, off of a new double-story deck, circular in shape to catch the view. Here are some photos taken from the deck of a double rainbow that appeared one evening, but they don't do it justice, the pictures were taken before the new deck was built.
When they took out the old cement steps at the back, they found a funnel web spider living there. This is the single most poisonous spider in the world. But luckily they're slow-moving and easy to catch and remove. We all got a close-up look while it was in a jar before it got relocated.
After the rains retreat i will be going to Perth to Bodhinyana monastery. It will be an interesting time because it will be the first time i spend a longer period of time in a monastery will a larger group of monks so i guess there will be plenty to learn from from being there. I will be going on Ajahn Brahm's 9 day retreat whilst there, there will be a little Santi group there for the retreat. When in Perth i also hope to visit Dhammasara for a day.
Office work can be a lot of suffering! The amount of people who wish to come here and spend time here and also who want to ordain is far to great for the current amount of space we have, the demand out does the supply of accommodation and as the accommodation monk i have to try to find people and with people coming and going the accommodation book was a nightmare for a while here but thanks to the help of Jackie it much better.
There has been a lot that has happened this rains retreat and i think it will be one that ill never forget.
My close friend Max has been going to stay at Chithurst and Anenja on his summer holidays. I now await his return from Anenja to hear more about it.
Well i guess that is enough for now, we will have to see what happens after the rains retreat and then we will have more to type about!
Sunday, 8 June 2008
i was lucky enough to be invited by the BSV to attend their Vesak celibration which was led by Ajahn Brahm. I had a great time and really enjoyed the time there.
While i was in Melbourne i had the chance to catch up with one of my old friends and also so my great Ant. Suroo and Ravi were also ther, so nice to see them there.
so what is going on in my life at the moment? It is getting closer to the rains retreat and we will be having the ASA conference in July and also there will be the Mirta conference just before the Vassa starts. Things are generality busy here at the moment but as one always does hope every year that with the rains retreat coming soon that there will be a rest from work and a time to be able to delvelop mediation deeper, however one has to make a strong effort in that time and to get caught in the habits one has developed!
Santi now has 7 Anakarikas, the most it as had at one time. There will be about 22 people coming for therains which will be the most we would of ever had, so it will be interesting to see how things go and hopefully that which such a large amount of people here that we can all get along and and that there won't be any disharmony, one can only hope.
I will be going to the Dalia Lama's teaching this week about mediation in Sydney. In a way it is going to be challenge for me because i don't follow Tibetan Buddhism and also because of the Dalia lama's views on homosexuality. So i will have to use these teachings as a time to see if i can learn from people even though i think their ideas are wrong. trying to learn from someone from a Fundamentalist Christian when you are gay is not something easy to deal with inside, or learning from the person who has killed a family member is difficult, so i guess that i still need to come to understand that although religious people hold ideas that hurt people there are still some good things that can be learn from them, so i guess that i need to focus on them.
What bad Karma
To hold hurtful views
that make people blue
please have compassion
for gays passion
non-discrimination is now the fashion
Who is worse the Pope or you
Please give them hope
So that they may cope
Give them a safe place
Of refuge free from fear
So that they will have no tears
Saturday, 1 March 2008
This blog is still incomplete and i am working on completing it as it has a lot of info which plan to put in it, please note it contains some things in brackets to remind of for when i am writing it, i have published it in the mean time so that people may read it in the mean time, please come back at a later date to see if there are any updates or it has been finished
Upon arriving leaving the air-conditioned airport in Penang one is hit by the hot and steamy out side of Malaysia. We were met by Bhante Sujato's supporter Dustin at the airport.
In the Island of Penang we were taken around to some of the temples of the area, all of which were highly commercialized. The two interesting and most commercial ones were the Burmese Temple and the Thai, there you would find donation boxes and monks bowls on it saying 'wealth' 'long life' ect ect and then in the Thai temple you find Bhante Sujato's book ' A History of Mindfulness'. So the faith and commercial temple with the comparative study and logic based book to be found in the corner, all the same temple.
At the Burmese temple were was a large metal box with eye holes in in and as you aproched it it had words to the effect of " see the 10, 000 armed Buddha". You slide a coin into it and I guess that you see what ever is inside it. there was also the famous Upagupta stature that one finds in Burmese temples. Upagupta is always sitting down with a bowl in his hand, the other hand in the bowl and he looks up the sky. The story goes that he is a master of psychic powers and he is not full yet and it is almost midday and so is unable to finish his meal, so he uses his psychic powers to stop the sun so he can continue to eat, one knows of corse even if he was a master of such powers surely he would know the the sun doesn't move around the earth rather the earth moves around the sun and thus would stop the earth from moving! however don't let this get in the way of faith!
It is funny from a ultra conservative school such as Theravada and the Burmese would have to be one of the most of all. To have something like Upagupta around in the monastery is very intriguing because he appears no where at all in the Pali cannon but his stature is found throughout North to North-east Thailand, Burma and Bangladesh, however is not found in Sri Lanka.
So why is it that you have hardcore Vipassana Burmese Abidhammamists but yet you have the worship of Upagupta? It is very funny indeed to see at the chanting in Bodhgaya to see the Burmese tent with their shrine not to the Buddha but to the Abidhamma, water pots with laminated sheets of paper with 24 paccayas from the pattana with offerings of fruit to it.
Bhante said to me "So now you have seen 'real' Buddhism".
In Penang I wanted to hunt down a nun who I have found inspirational and from her blog and through a contact came to know that she would be in Penang at the time we were there, she was trying to remain quiet however that did not stop me.
We had asked around all most of the lay people that had come to visit us at Dustins house, some had heard of her, there can't be too many Canadian Theravada nuns in Malaysia! As it happens her supporter was going to run a house off Dustins brother however in the end did not do so. In the end we didn't get to see her. The only thing I really wanted to do in Malaysia was to see her, however the conditions did not come together.
house. Dustins house is every interesting. He has a star ship enterprise panel in his office and also a monks quarters/library up stars apparently with a separate roof so monks and stay there (it is commonly understood that a monk should not sleep under the same roof as a women, however if one looks at the rule found in the patimokkha is says a bhikkhu shouldn't make his bed with a women).
Staying at Dustins house was fun.
Because of all the animals and things there and
Because of his stories of how he gets business people to come to practise meditation and become less angry.
in Thailand there are pictures of the king everywhere and some of the princess who had passed away, there where in a period of morning where no one was allowed to party for 90 days!
It was planned that our supporters (Om and Sucin, Sucin family) mother and brother would pick us up from the airport and also serve us lunch, however the plane was delayed, there was some mix up with the different time zone of Malay time and Thai time, so not only was the plane delaied but also they had picked us up late due to the mix up o f the time. In the end we didn't get the vegetarian pizza which they had prepared, however we got enough to eat on the plane. The disappointment wasn't so much ours, rather is was our supporters mother who was. she was so happy to see us and meet us and drive us around, and was talking and laughing. At one point we went on Thailand's 'most beautiful' road, i however said " the most beautiful road of all is the noble eight-fold path" which was translated by Bhante, which got her laughing some more, apprently Thais love this kind of play on words.
They took us to their home, although the plan was to visit Bhikkhuni Dhammananda before we had to fly off to Wat Pah Nanachat in Ubon. We did some chanting they gave us some 'relics' which had 'appeared' while some monk was doing meditation. From the detour going around seeing the 'most beautiful' road in Thailand, going to their house ect ect we only ended up spending about 20 mins with Bhikkhuni Dhammananda before we left to go to the airport, they were well wishing but just no idea about time!
On our flight up to Ubon i met a lovely man who happened to sit next to me (perhaps kamma, who knows!) who had stayed at Wat Pah Nanachat and had loved it. He had offered to drive us to WPN, however there was ment to be someone picking us up from the airpot. As you fly into Ubon you can see the lovely green rice patty fields, more pleasent to the eyes then Bangkok from an aerial point of view!
When we arrived there was no one there to pick us up, however it turns out that Ven. Siripannyo's Mother (apparently She is the Opera Winfrey of Thailand) was there and was doing something for charity. She told us how whenever she comes to Ubon it is to see her son at WAP, however this time is was for another reason and had brought memories up.
She was very happy to see us there and wanted to drive us to WPN. We were greated by one monk there and also The new Abbot Ajahn Kevali came to see us.
Every morning they go for alms-rounds on different roots. The whole time i was there we went to the village of Bunwai. It is amazing how as monastics we are ment to live simply however it seems that WPN is more extravagant then the village on which it depends for alms ( have a look at 'The Story of Stuff'). Dogs and chickens walk about while the people burn fires from rubbish, sweep the road ect ect. I was touched by the people who had given alms there. An old man always with a beautiful smile on his face and many different age groups of people. One thing that struck me most was one old women who was wearing around her shoulders what we would consider a rag, however i think that she was wearing it because it was most likely the old white item that she had. It was a white towel printed with beach balls and other things. Reflecting on this reminds me to ask myself, how simply am i really living? There are these villagers who have very little and who knel down on the road in the early morning in order to offer sticky rice to the monks while there are such things as the 'Ajahn Sumedho Kuti' with teak heartwood floors. After alms-round one of the lovely village man would give us lollies into our hand everyday and then would later feed the squirrels the sticky rice that we had received on alms-round.
On the First day back from alms round Ajahn Kevali was talking with Bhante and had starting talking about Bhikkhunis in a way that was not very friendly. It is funny because we get these ideas that Thailand is not Accepting of Bhikkhunis, however it seems that these ideas seem to be more prevalent in the Western monk then in the Thais. We went to Ajahn Liem to talk to him about bhikkhunis and he was very cool and easy going. Ajahn Liem is the Abbot of Wat Nong Pah Poong, the head monastery of all the Ajahn Chah monasteries, however he was fine with bhikkhunis and not rejecting or anything at all and didn't see we were evil and destroying the Wat Pah Pong tradition by supporting bhikkhunis rather in fact his words were useful and practical, such as the bhikkhunis should have there own area so that there is no criticism by the world. It was very refreshing to have talked to him. After we talked to him the monks who were there gather around just out side of his kuti to make notes of what was said. When we got back Bhante went and typed up what was said and it was printed out and it was share around by the monks. It somehow came to be put up on the notice board which had cause a little bit of a problem for some people.
At WPN there were a lot of German monks, the abbot also being Germen. I got to met some very lovely monks there. One Australian monk by the name of Thaniyo who had help us with the Thai translation when we visited Ajahn Liem. I had been in e-mail contact with Ven. Gavesako who both Bhante and i got along with, i guess because we were the progressive type of monks.
The Treasurer of Chithurst and his wife had came to WPN and they accompanied us on our visit to see Ajahn Liem. One day i got the chance to go to see Po Jom Com, WPN's branch monastery on the north eastern tip of Thailand on the boarder of Loas on the Mekong river. Bhante Sujato had spend a few rains retreat here and had really loved the place, however i myself didn't find it all that great, Bhante said that i am hard to please.
I got to meet Ajahn Acalo, i had listen to some of his meditation instruction which were quite helpful, i had wanted to meet him and now i had got the chance. We didn't get much time with him at Po Jom Com, but however it was enough for me to make a connection. I had offered him on the handkerchiefs which i had dyed with natural dye from Sydney Red Gum bark and sap. He was going to Melbourne in a short time and thus he will be easier for me to make contact with him.
The night that i came back from Po Jom com i got to see a burning corpse. The day before a man living near by had died for an unknown reason. By the time i got there most of the flesh had burnt away leaving only the bones chard black. I focused on on purticual part of the burning body that i wanted to you for meditation at a later point. It is very rare these days to see a dead body and people are afrad of death. We live such sheltered lives in developed countries. We are so distant from the nature of this body and others that people are quickly whist off and taken away and we are likely never to see their body every again. If you think of our relationship to meat you will understand what i am pointing to more.
Say in a butchers, or in a supermarket that we mostly go to then what we call meat is romoved from the relationship we have to animals, say for instance we call it beef, not cow mat, we call it chicken, not hen meat, we call it veal, not calf meat, we call it port, not pig meat. we are so far removed from where our meat actually comes from that if we were to see who this meat was processed then i don't know if people would eat it anymore, people are less likely to eat meat they had to kill for themselves then the meat that we would buy in the butchers or supermarket with the fake green grass and vegetables around it for marketing. it is the same with milk, you see such wonderful nice pictures of cows out in the paddock rather then in an enclosure being fed antibiotics to prevent illnesses from being with all the other cows and all the excrement and also hormones so they they will produre more milk. if you would like to find out more about this (which you probbly won't so you can eat you evening dinner steak 'gilt free') then see ' the Meatrix' or 'Earthlings'
On the flight we took to fly back to Bangkok Ajahn Liem was also on the same flight. when we landed we were picked up at the airport by Samaneri Dhammavijjani and two other Samaneris and went to her perents house and spent some time there before Bhante Sujato's support Vira came and picked us up from their house to take us to the monastery where bhantes meditation teacher Ajahn Maha Chatchai was living. The next day the Samaneris came and visited us and also Dustin came suprizingly, he was on business in Thailand.
When we were staying at the monastery we went for alms-round everyday. On one particular day i had so much given to me i could barely cayy it all! I was wishing and wishing that no more people would give us anymore food and eventrualy the bag handles broke and just as we were about to enter the monastery someway gave us some more food. finally i reached the door of where we were staying, Ahh, relief at last! My arms wore so weak after that i could barly life my alms up to my sholders without them falling back down again! This lasted for about two days.
Ven. Piyadhammo came to see Bhante in order to do some video reordering for Dhammatube.
bhante talked about what most others would shy away from sayings, the videos can be seen here
Ok so now we are about to fly off to India!
At the airport in Thailand we bumped into Ayya Samacitta who was also flying to India, Bodhgaya on the same flight as us, it just so happens that on the actual plane she was sitting opposite us with another nun.
India is an interesting place, there is many things to say about it, but in the end there is so much completity that the very fact that it is complex gives it it's special taste of being India. Landing in Gaya, we were lucky enough to be like 3rd to get our passports stamped. The man looks at you, takes your passport, fills in details on something then slams it down on the counter... hmm interesting. Next is customs which consist of some random group of people who stand around chatting to each other until the notice they you are walking towards the doors, actually sometimes they don't even notice that! Then all of a sudden " do you have anything to declare?" iI have nothing to declare" " OK OK" then one can go through the doors, perhaps we were lucky, we will en count the people at the air port on the way back, you'll have to keep on reading to find out what happens!
After sometime of talking to Bhante Sevali from the Maha Bodhi Society who was to take us to Bodhgaya we went outside after the Dhamma Society had arrived, we will meet them more later. We we given a lovely welcome from Wangmo with the tradition white silk scarf handed to us.
OK so we get on a bus. Roads are an interesting phonomina in India, one cannot explain them in them in full detail in a sentence, but they have their own flow, craziness and rules of which one from the West can only try to understand. Beeping is something you will always hear. doesn't mean you have something wrong, but means something like " I am hare, be aware of me " or " i am coming" or "move out of the bloody way" or a mix of all or part mix, don't ask questions and when in doubt just beep, doesn't matter what the context is. Beep beep beep. Cars even on the back of them saying " Horn please ". When you are walking down the street the are always beeps of all kinds, different sounds, different tunes, it might be a " ring ring" from a rick shawl or a beep from a bus!
Rick Shawls, these are the guys who ring ring their bell and say something like "hey" but in a creepy voice at like 9 at night, as if i want to get on your bloody rick shawl can't you bloody well see i am walking and would of got a rick shawl by now if i needed one! No you are a chance at making money. In India you have no space, people don't have a sense of not annoying people. Beggers, show owners, cd sells, flower sellers, butter lamp sellers, children and even barbers! For gods sake just leave me ALONE! India became all to much for me, i had like a mini mental break down from it all and just spend time day mostly to myself.
Once we got to Bodhgaya for the opening ceremony we sat down under the Bodhi tree for like 4 hours to a long boring ceremony of chanting from different Buddhist countries, including Australia i.e. Bhante and I. Different monks were asked to come up to do some chanting in their style of their country, they were asked to chant just iti pi so and and namo tassa, however no one followed this other then the Australians! So the man would say 'just namo tassa and iti pi so" then thy would get up and do all this long chanting. The man would go to reach out to stop them. oohhh!! too late the metta sutta has already begun!
What a night!
We met up with Ayya Tathaaloka and the other nuns that were with her, Ayya Gunasari and Ayya Satima, their lay supporter was sick and was in bed. We begun the chanting and Bhante and the nuns chanted with the Indian, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan monks.
It was so lovely to be able to sit under the Bodhi tree and chant the suttas, at one time also most in tears asi could could understand the meaning of some of what i was chanting.
What was interesting was that there was a western yogi of some sort, it seems he caught my eye and so we kept eye contact for a short while. For the rest of the ceremony he was never to be seen again.
I guess you may wonder what we eat in India. The way we had the food every day for lunch was in a big tent and it had Indian tables and Thai tables, the Thai were however not there for the whole thing. It seems that the monks liked to eat from the Thai table, as you could understand the food was much better and also the Thais were vasts amount friendlier then the Indain, well i don't really think the Indain wsa friendly at all. One time i went to take food from the Indain and as you may know monks and nuns need food to be offered to them so they can eat, this was ok as they served it out to us and put it on the plates we were holding but there were something on the table and one would try to get them to offer it to you however at one time the man said" Take it take it take it!". So now one can understand why the Thai food was so popular. At one point of the Indian monks was trying to to get the monks to move away from the Thai table to take the Indian food!
In Bodhgaya there is such a difference between the Indian people and the temples from Buddhist countries which have built up around them. A lot of people there live on the street and there are many beggars, poor people and people with sickness and and deformed body parts from Polio. At one time a man that was begging looked like he had Leprosy because parts of his fingers had rotted away, another lady was a classic of which is depicted in the suttas of a lady 'leaning on a stick bent over like a roof bracket' she walked slowly trying to get something and saying the words 'babu babu' which i think must mean brother or something. There are children who have deformed legs from Polio and kind of make there way around on the ground and have to use there hands to move there body around so one of them had something on his hand so i guess he wouldn't hurt himself from using his hands on the bare ground.
The Buddhist temples in Bodhgaya are very beautiful and the one of the Thai one was over the top! On the walls on the temple where people living in a kind of tent which it seems they were doing there business out of which what it seems was ironing. amazing how these monks were living in luxury in the temple when just out side the gates were people living in these little tent things (see the picture on the left to see what they were living in, the tents are against the wall of the Thai temple) and these people are most likely better off then the people living on the street! One has to reflect who is truly homeless and why are monks living in such luxury when the people are so dirt poor.
In the evening there were Dhamma talks by different monks. Bhante Sujato had to do the translation ffrom the thai for one of the monks. There was also this funny Burmese/Shan monk who was quiet out there! There was also not so nice things gonig on with that differnt groups wanted to have their monk teach also, the Dhamam talks should be based on who can give the best teachings rather then just having a monk teach because he is from such and such a country, the nicest talk was by one of the Cambodian monks.
For one of the nights Bhante did the translation i think he just happened to be there but then for the next time that the same monk was to give a talk he just came in and then was asked to do the translation, the funny thing is that there was this Thai lady who had prayed for him to be there to do the translation and he just happened to turn up!
During the time we were at the chanting there was this group of Indian nuns who had come. We decided that we would try and give htem some teachings. At first there were some problems, one reason because we were white, internal conflicts etc. however after a set time of teaching them they were very eager in their learning. Perhaps no one had ever showed such care towards them.