Saturday, October 13, 2012


As in "what's °?"

Feeling less weak than before, though I'm told it's at least a month before I should expect full strength. People in the village dropping like flies (going to hospital for fever); it seems this is sick seasons.

Some change maybe to the Canada plan; I've been contacted by a very kind person with a vacant apartment in Caledon, Ontario who would like to work together to set up a meditation centre in their area. At the same time, the person who offered to share an apartment originally has expressed new reluctance - he's not a member of our meditation group, so it is not unexpected. Nothing for sure yet, but however, it's super-great-encouraging to see so much support for the idea to move back to Canada, which has always been in the back of my mind though never seemed plausible.

Our monastery here is doing fine apart from the plague thing. A little explanation about why I'm even thinking of leaving: well, besides the Russian roulette feeling I get when a mosquito bites me now and the concern for foreign meditators having to go to overpacked Sri Lankan hospitals, there is the fact that no matter how hard I try to cover it up, we're (all of us as a group) trying to work as though this were our country and our monastery, when it is neither. The two obstacles we have faced here and in Thailand are culture and bureaucracy (a.k.a. structural violence). Sri Lankan culture is actually comfortable for me in a way that Thai culture never was; other foreign monastics who have been in both countries seem to agree. But the fact remains that it's not our culture, both in our own inability to fully integrate with such a strong cultural background (from what I've felt, Canada has probably one of the weakest cultures in the world, which suits me, personally) and the inability of the people we interact with to fully accept us as much more than a source of income for the monastery and community. That last part is maybe a bit simplistic - part of the reason for seeing our organization as nothing more than an income-generator is that we are foreign - I am not a part of the monastic community that the head monk here belongs to, and no matter what they say, they really do cling to their clique as most monastics do. I suppose I cling to mine as well, and that doesn't help any.

Then there is the bureaucracy, e.g. visas, but also the issue of monastery ownership; as I understand, the monastery here is actually, legally, owned by the head monk, even though monastic code forbids such a thing. Anyway, that's how it is in Sri Lanka, and it seems clear that foreign monks are not able to "own" monasteries in the same way - the head monk doesn't seem keen to pass the torch anyway.

Whatever, it amounts to the same problem as in Thailand; running a monastery that is not your own in a culture that looks at you like the ambassador of a foreign country with a bureaucracy that treats you as a tourist, is not really much fun, though I certainly don't blame anyone here any more than I blame myself. Just trying to explain; I don't mean to talk so much, it's just such a complicated issue that explanations tend to get, well, complicated.

Found a bunch more transcriptions that I'd like to put in the book, so I guess it's not done yet. Not sure how much more I can do before Thailand; also working on Cakkhupala and our Pali workbook.

Was thinking to have some online sessions this weekend; if anyone happens to be online at 7:30 PM SLT, look for me on Google+

Still want to finish the kids videos... hopefully will have time and energy before Thailand. Time goes so quickly! Especially, it seems, when you don't really have too many deadlines. Life as a monk is such a privilege in that way, I think. I think many people feel offended by the fact that monks don't have to do, well, much of anything, really. The first thing that comes to mind when I hear that, though, is not that we actually do do anything, but that we have so many things that we are forbidden to do that, well, just being a monk is work in itself. Nor do we put burden on people beyond what one can reasonably expect from a teacher, when we do teach, so I don't really see the problem. Deadlines, shmedlines. But, yes, I will try to get more work done whenever it comes.

Peace :)