Monday, October 29, 2007

Forest Monk

Went to Samoeng yesterday, after talking about the idea with Ajaan. Ajaan told me in a sort of monk-to-monk way, "It's like this, Phra No-ah. I've always wanted to have a meditation centre which could serve as an example, just once, where the monks could actually keep the vinaya. Really, monks who come to meditate, they don't let them touch currency or gold. This has been my intention from the very beginning, because once monks have money, there are many problems that arise. I want to have someone who can run a centre where they keep all 227 precepts of a monk. Can you do that?"

I must say it startled me to hear this, as I was halfway to believing that Ajaan had given up the idea of monks not using money. For this reason as well, it lifted a great burden from my mind that the practice of not touching money, which I have actually kept for the past year and a half, was a bone of contention between me and my teacher, for he himself is unable to follow the practice in his position. It also put a bone in my back against all of the accusations to that effect by Ajaan's other students who could never fathom doing without money.

Anyway, after such an auspicious beginning, we were driven to the site by the nun who has cared for the centre since its inception eight years ago. She explained how the resident monks had let it go to ruin over the past year before leaving, and that it would need some work to get back into shape. This we saw, but we were by no means discouraged. The huts are still in good shape, and the cetiya is unharmed. There is a kitchen, two outdoor halls, eight men's huts and six women's huts, and the large hall inside the cetiya. The nun asked me to wait a week before going to stay there, so they would have time to clean.

Then, this morning, we went to pay respect to Ajaan again and he, hearing the plan, told me to go clean enough by myself to stay as it is, like a real forest monk. This was agreeable to me, though I'm not sure what my notebook computer will think of it... yathaa paccayam...


The Chedi at Samoeng