Nissarana was much more inspiring; huge trees, boulders and cliffs, monkeys, etc. It's obviously active and growing, even though the head teacher is not there now. I asked to stay the night, and was accepted without problem. This was quite surprising, considering what I had heard about how closed and somehow "elitist" this group of monks is, and I was quite keen to return when I have more time to spend in solitary meditation; it was quite uplifting to find such a dedicated group of monks and meditators who seemed open to outsiders joining them... until I left yesterday, with a request to come back when I have more time, whereat the vice-chief monk started asking some round-about, though pointed and all-to-familiar, questions.
"How do you know Dhammaramita?" (D. is the German monk who brought me there). "Where were you ordained again?" "Where in Thailand?" "What monastery?" It was clear what the question was, so I offered an explanation of my ordination history, the type of vinaya my preceptor and teachers follow, and my own practice. The problem, it seems, is that I was ordained by monks who don't keep perfect vinaya. This is understandable, in a way, since it means I didn't get proper training in the vinaya myself, and have had to work things out myself, for the most part. He didn't say it in so many words, but it seems even to visit, they require some sort of "reconfirmation" as he called it in English. From the sounds of it, even that may not be possible; if I return, I can find out.
Discouraging, to say the least, though if such a reconfirmation is possible, it would at least mean acceptance for once; at least until they find out I have a weblog, I suppose :) The cave is fine, anyway; it's just always nice to have the reminder of others practicing around you.
From the Dhammapada:
76. nidhīnaṃva pavattāraṃ, yaṃ passe vajjadassinaṃ.
niggayhavādiṃ medhāviṃ, tādisaṃ paṇḍitaṃ bhaje.
tādisaṃ bhajamānassa, seyyo hoti na pāpiyo.
76. As one who points out hidden treasure is he who seeing one's faults, makes them known.
Such a wise one, speaking reprovingly in this way, one should should partake in his friendship.
Partaking in the friendship of such a person is better, not worse.
61. carañce nādhigaccheyya, seyyaṃ sadisamattano.
ekacariyaṃ daḷhaṃ kayirā, natthi bāle sahāyatā.
61. If, in one's travels, one should come across no such person, greater than oneself or of equal merit,
he should make effort faring alone; naught is the friendship of a fool.