Sunday, May 27, 2007

Okay, I Promised

A while back I think I said I would try to find time to update everyone on what's up with me. This is always the most arduous of tasks, as it involves publicising one's own actions as though one were a celebrity (pop star, as I've been accused). It is important, though, to understand why this blog exists. It is not to showcase myself, but to keep in contact with family, friends, students, and fellow seekers of the truth. It is also to spread the dhamma, though I admit I am lazy to do so over the Internet to any great degree. At any rate, this is a weblog – a place to log my activities on the web. Simple enough, not at all out of place in this day and age. So, with apologies to my pop star hate club, here's what I've been up to lately.

I went to L.A., as most should know by now, in February. I've talked a little bit about that trip already, one month in LA, another in New York and Canada, and then a third back in LA. By April I was able to convince the community to accept my daily almsround, to such an extent that by the time I left, I was receiving enough food to feed all of my students as well, and there was a great sadness from the people who knew that for another eight months there would be no daily almsgiving.

More importantly, though, by the end of the trip, we counted 16 people had finished the foundation course in Vipassana meditation, eight had finished the advanced course on top of that, and twenty or so more had come to stay in the monastery with us for shorter periods of time. A total of 158 people had come to visit the meditation hall, most of whom gained some instruction in walking and sitting meditation either by myself or the ever-helpful facilitators. The monastic chief was rightly pleased by our activities, as were we all; no one expected such a great turnout or result. I have been invited back for next March.

After returning to Thailand, I made a quick stop at Wat Chom Tong to pay respect to my teacher, offer him the fruit of my work (pictures, a DVD, a book, and gifts from LA), clean out all my belongings (so many books…) and hurry on to my new home, Wat Sanku. The geckos had found their way back into my sleeping quarters, and it took a few days to convince them that their eggs and droppings were inappropriate in that setting. The rain was somewhat more persistent in its efforts to turn my living quarters into a water park, but with the help of a skilled labourer and some cement, I managed to convince it to stay where it belonged as well, just in time for the hot weather to return; it hasn't rained since. 50,000 baht was spent repairing the meditation huts and adding mosquito-screened porches for walking meditation. The wiring ad lighting in my room was also replaced.

Thus far, we've received four meditators and there are requests trickling steadily in. I assume this will pick up once the rainy season comes, and we will have to be on our toes to receive the cold season (cold, of course, is a relative concept). The slow start is welcome, as I've been given a mandate to acquire the three levels of dhamma study, and the first three levels of Pali study, all written in Thai, as a prerequisite for being appointed the vice-chief monastic. If anything, that is my excuse for neglecting my weblog during this period, along with added monastic duties as the unofficial vice-chief monastic.

I spend my time studying and meditating, when I am not sidetracked by my computer. I've confined the latter to two hours in the morning, during which I am also available by webcam or voice chat via MSN or Skype. Please see my contact page for details.

So there, I've done it. Expect another update this time next year J