Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sweepin' The Clouds Away

When all is said and done, life is good.  Surrounded by people who respect and appreciate one here in Thailand, with more than a handful of people waiting to greet one in one's home country, most of whom one has never met... it's nice to feel useful, for sure.  Grateful as well, for the heaps of support that allows this unbelievable way of life - studying, practicing and teaching the truth without ever having to concern oneself with worldly affairs.  Pretty special.

With all that, what's to complain about?  It's not really a complaint, more of a concern.  Too much of a good thing is, by definition, a bad thing - there is still a part of me that wonders whether Canada will be too much of a commitment in the long run.  I've come to the conclusion that the answer is very much up to me, and so I plan on being as much a hermit as possible given the circumstances.

I gave a formal talk today in Thai on the Dhammavihari Suttas (AN 5), mentioning how important it is to be able to stay alone.  I think as a teacher this is doubly important... if one is a barber, one must keep one's razor sharp; if one is a teacher, one must not dull one's mind with idle socializing.

Sorry, this is just me thinking aloud... I assume that's at least partially what a weblog is for.  Somehow there is the hope that these thoughts are generally interesting, I guess.

As to the other thing weblogs are for (updates!), nine days 'til liftoff.  In Bang Keh, in an orchard behind the Lotus superstore.  It's amazing how a place of such tranquility can exist with the faint throb of a bass drum off in the distance - it's quieter here than at Wat Chom Tong, though I suppose that isn't saying much.  Lots of kind and happy people; all the miserable wretches stay away, I guess :) 

Speaking of, a story that made an impression is how while giving a blessing on almsround the other day, there suddenly broke out a violent fistfight mere feet away - between twelve-year-old school kids who look like this guy:

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Looks scary doesn't he?  I had to ask him if he was prone to such insanity, to which he replied in the negative.  But honestly, the thugs in the market looked as innocent as he does, even while pounding the crap out of each other.  I'm told such fighting is now the norm, whatever that means.  Crazy world.

Somehow the sickness finally feels like it has left my brain alone again; less of the cloudiness in the head, better memory, etc.  All is well.

Really, all is well.  Great, in fact.  Maybe even amazing, but I think I'll wait until I actually meet my new meditation group.  Speaking of which, I now have someone ready and willing to come to stay with me in the apartment that has been kindly offered; if that works out, it will be a great boon (he's already been conscripted as cameraman, which means yes more videos).  Invitations to teach around Canada and the USA make me think it will be a great opportunity to help teach people to not beat the crap out of each other, for example.  That and, selfish as I am, I think it'll just be nice to be home again.

One final word, I guess, that we're going to try to get things up and running in Canada without any delay.  If you are looking to get involved, stay tuned; we'll probably be having a series of meetings/events, maybe even going to see property.  One idea I had is to get a house on either side of the border at Niagara Falls, so we could smuggle our American monks back and forth... well, one can dream anyway.  Even without a monastery, I'll be trying my best to help as I can; I think a meditation session in the Annex is a great idea, so hopefully that will start right away.  Please don't hesitate to get involved, though; we're going to have to work as a team if it's going to work... if not, well, there is always the forest of Thailand.

But that's the other thing I realized lately; I'm not needed here.  My students and supporters have made some half-hearted attempts to keep me, but the truth is they don't need me.  There are so many teachers here that I'm largely a novelty (oh, he speaks such good Thai!) even in Bangkok.  In the forest, I wouldn't be much help to anyone and that can really be a drain on one's own practice as well, not being able to give as much as you take.  There appears to be so much need for teachers in the West that it's difficult not to feel, well, needed.  The question that remains is whether the bitter pill of truth is enough wanted to support the need - requiring students to keep five precepts, refusing to sugarcoat the Buddha's teaching, etc.  Many people here in Asia think of this as going among the savages, I would say.  Here's hoping they are wrong... lots of savages here too...

Most important, I'm going to Canada to settle down; wonderful that people are giving me a place to live, wonderful that I can help others, too, but in the end, the point is that maybe, just maybe, living without visa concerns in a country whose customs and quirks are a part of one's own makeup will support my own practice in a way that is somewhat lacking with all this moving on and on again.  Here's hoping!