Saturday, June 30, 2012

Apologizing

Back in Chom Tong for a ten-day retreat with Ajaan Tong, then back to Sri Lanka.

An apology for the last apology... I guess it was a bit negative in tone, more than intended I promise :) I'm still here, still thinking of the community, just trying to balance things a bit better. Looks like I'll be back in Thailand for two or three months at the end of the year. Thinking about a possible trip to America next spring to arrange some affairs, including the future of our non-profit organization. Otherwise, I do hope to continue giving what I can, since I've been a recipient of so much myself.

One curious realization that has come is that I probably never will have a place to call my own... it's silly to even suggest such a possibility as a Buddhist monk, I guess, but I always went under the impression that, like many of my Thai and Sinhala peers, one day I would be put in charge of a meditation centre where the decision-making would be mine alone.

After years of being an outsider, coming back to Thailand this time with the realization that my future may lie, like the Buddha himself, in wandering from place to place, ever a visitor, never putting down roots anywhere, I begin to suspect the idea of being the head of a meditation centre as just a misguided dream.

It's disconcerting, the thought that one might be ever the visitor, watching the affairs of every place you go as from the outside. It's hard to find fault with it, though, considering the benefits of being free to practice, study and teach, always a priviledged guest of honour, without expectation of involvement in mundane affairs. It seems in fact a little dishonest and, had I not been forced into this state of playing the perpetual visitor - by virtue of being not Eastern within nor Western without and thus a foreigner in every country of the world - I might feel embarassed or at least sympathetic for my busy hosts.

As it is, it's a little disheartening to know that I will probably never be given the same rights and responsibilities as other monks with the right cultural background (not to mention skin colour), but I'm starting to think that's only misplaced expectations... the Buddha himself never owned a monastery, and seems to have been quite at home... without a home.

What most helps replace the lost heartening is that where ever I go, I find people looking for a meditation teacher, and who seem quite willing to leave me free to my own pursuits as long as I act the part, often just providing the mental encouragment needed to undertake this difficult and unfamiliar journey. If that is all I am required of in this life, then surely this is the more profitable life - confining one's worries to the development of meditative insight, without any care for the mundane aspects of running a meditation centre.

One downside I see is obviously moving around can interfere with things like video uploading, live Internet broadcasting, etc. The Internet is a funny thing, or part of a funny trend, to connect us with the entire world and as a result force us to never leave our homes. I read once that the result of air travel was to actually inhibit the movements of the human race as it required far more stationary work to send people flying through the air than walking on the land. This seems to be a general rule that applies equally well to all technology; our ability to be everywhere stops us from going anywhere. Something to think about. I think somehow it will be worked out, though, and that it will be shown that that even the information highway has a place for hoboes.

The other question is what to do with my students? One of our novices left today to seek out other places of practice, but more people applying and planning to come in the near future, including two more potential novices. How does a wandering monk support their students? This is an interesting question, but I do have a suspicion that it is not so black and white as it appears. My guess is that that novices and soon-to-bes are not so needy as to require a full-time teacher. They all are, after all, experienced meditators, and I will, after all, be spending at least a few months at a time in both Sri Lanka and Thailand for those coming for courses, which can as easily be followed here as there.

Only the future will tell, anyway, and it's not as though I'm choosing my path... it seems neither I nor anyone really does, after all. We just have the choice to fight against it or accept it and let go.

Not that fighting is always wrong... I just see less and less reason to fight as time goes on - which, I think, is more a result of the effects (both good and bad) of the fighting of the past. Eventually, the supposition is that there will be no need to fight anymore, due both to having fought the fight worth fighting and having given up all the unworthy ones... it may even be that both are the same act :)