Wednesday, July 02, 2014

after the trip

Back in Canada, recovering from extended bus-lag and too much caffeine. And thinking happily about the trip down the East coast.

Really, for such a whirlwind trip, it felt like there was a real positive impact to teaching, instructing, and even just visiting so many people in so many places. Absolutely, there is only so much benefit to be had in such short visits, but the impact of meeting and practising with people in their own areas was beyond what I was expecting.

Tampa and Dunedin was the best part of the trip; it's amazing what can be done in a week! The first day I went for brunch at the house of the people who invited me to come to Tampa to teach, then went to my mother's by around noon. That evening my mother took me to the ocean to see the sunset, and the next day I spent at her new home in Dunedin, staying the nights in a tent behind the house.  Wednesday was a down-day, and we went to Honeymoon Island to walk along the ocean.

On Thursday evening I gave a talk at the University of South Florida that was well-received, I think - it's up on my audio page so you can judge the quality for yourself. I've been trying to organize my thoughts on the relationship between Buddhism and the scientific method; along with another Internetizen, I think I'm getting closer here:

http://buddhism.stackexchange.com/questions/1796/in-terms-of-reliability-of-understanding-reality-how-does-the-scientific-method

Which reminds me that much of my down time in the past two weeks has bee on the new Buddhism Stack Exchange site, where I've recently taken up the job as temporary moderator. Check it out; as far as Internet things go, it promises to be a wholesome one.

Friday was another downtime day, and we spent the morning at the farmer's market. In the evening I was drug out to Clearwater Beach, not an experience I'd want to repeat, but it did lead to some nice sunset pictures and a peaceful meditation by the ocean, in spite of all the chaos and activity of frolicking tourists.

Saturday I returned to my hosts home for lunch, some chanting, and a talk, meditation, and discussion about dhamma that ended up lasting until after five pm, on behalf of one of my host's mother, who passed away a year earlier.

Sunday we had an all-day meditation course at the Florida Buddhist Vihara, which I think is the sort of activity I'd want to push for if I do repeat the tour. There was a good turnout, and more importantly, it felt like there was an impact on people's lives even with just a single day of meditating together and meeting one-on-one with people about their meditation.

So, I'm pretty keen on the idea of repeating the tour next year; in fact I'm playing with the idea of starting early May instead, flying to Florida while it's cooler there, and making my way North by bus. I'd try to add some of the stops I missed on this trip - North Carolina and Philadelphia come to mind, along with upstate New York, maybe. But definitely spend more time in each location, plan and advertise better, and focus more on day-long and multi-day meditation courses.

I know it's early and we like to focus on the present, but as a concept to place in the back of everyone's minds, please let me know your thoughts on next year, and whether you want to play host again or for the first time. Maybe if I have enough time I can even make it to Texas next year.

So, that's my thoughts on the trip. I'm back in Stoney Creek, slowly back into the swing of things. Klara is here from Finland to finish her foundation course, and tomorrow Kevin, a Chom Tong alumni, is coming from USA.

I spent yesterday afternoon trying to get my desktop to boot up, then stayed the night under the apple tree out front without a tent. No mosquitoes yet, so it's nice to be able to take advantage of the pre-rains freedom to sleep outside.

I'm planning to return to Thailand in October, and we're beginning a project to offer 84 robe sets to Ajaan Tong when I go; more on that soon, hopefully we can crowdsource and let everyone join in the symbolism of the huge undertaking.

I may be returning to university in January; Pali studies kind of fizzled out months ago, so I've no excuse to not try to get my bachelor's degree, and some reasons to do it, including a new graduate program at UofT for Buddhist chaplaincy.

That's all the news from here; Monk Radio is probably on for this Saturday and I'll try to get back to more videos next week, including finishing up the Buddhism 101 videos from way back when.

Be well and keep on striving!