Thursday, October 25, 2007

Shaving Day

Today, the day before the full moon, is shaving day. Okay, not the most glamourous holiday out there, but one in which it is easy to find special meaning. They say that there were even disciples of the Buddha who became enlightened during their first shaving. Not so for me, though... my first shaving was done by a young monk at Wat Santidham in Chiang Mai almost 8 years ago. I knew little of Buddhism at the time, but I saw all the monks shaving each other's heads and eyebrows and asked for them to shave mine as well. They kindly obliged (perhaps they thought I wanted to ordain) but stopped after shaving the top of my head. Dissatisfied, I pointed to my eyebrows, at which they seemed somewhat shocked. At my stubborn Western insistence, though, they kindly (if reluctantly) made me the only farang on my block with no hair above the chin.

And eight years later, here we are again, about to renew the practice of the noble ones once more. And tomorrow is the end of the rains, my sixth. My practice these days is inspired by a realization that happiness truly comes only in the present moment. Though we may strive for this or that future pleasantry, we never find any sort of peace therein, our minds constantly distressed by wistful, wishful thinking. Compared to one moment of the peace found in contentment with what we have here and now, the former seems like a bone for a hound dog, never fulfilling, never satiating the hunger. Natthi ta.nhaa samaa naadi - there is no river like desire. We sit in meditation to "chinda sota.m" - cut off the stream; at the time when we are in the present moment, that is when life is of real worth.