Some running themes:
- That everything will work out as it should, you will end up where you are meant to be, etc. Disagree with this one... I've found the need to remind myself constantly that no, things may not work out in the end, and there is no such thing as "meant to be". Why? This is clearly a leftover of a theistic upbringing; there is nothing in the Buddha's teaching that offers such a reassurance. The only reassurance is that if it doesn't work out, you've got eternity to hope and pray that one day it will. The problem with that is that hoping, praying, and convincing oneself that things will work out without honest striving to see that they do is probably one of the biggest reasons they never do.
- That monks belong in monasteries. Well, yes and no. Actually, where ever monks live can be, by definition, a monastery, but that's not what's being said here. Yes, it would be easiest to just go live with whatever Thai monks happen to be at hand; there are two main problems with that: 1) most (read: almost all) Thai monks don't give much concern to actually following the monastic code. Which would be fine if I didn't feel compelled to do so myself. Really, it just seems a cop-out to fall in with my more opulent brethren - why not just disrobe and be done with it? 2) it would more or less defeat the purpose of going to the West, since it would mean fitting in with Thai society again - in the two years I spent in Los Angeles, I think I taught meditation to less than ten Westerners, while I can't count the number of Thai students. Having to fit into the temple bureaucracy, monastic tradition, etc. only serves to dampen or extinguish the potential to help others - I might as well head off into the forest after all.
- That going off into the forest is the solution after all. Maybe... but you know what that means? I think it means shutting down sirimangalo.org. I'm pretty sure it means no more YouTube videos. It probably means giving up teaching entirely, since all of the effort I've put into going to Canada was precisely due to an inability to set up an international meditation centre in Asia. Too much trouble, not worth the effort... better to just disappear and be done with it.
I don't know what is the answer. It's like my teacher said: the difference between teaching and not teaching comes down to whether you want more suffering or less suffering. Funny how I can't decide :)