Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Choices

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 :)

13 comments :

  1. Michael Roe5:53 PM

    I'm still in the camp of "you must continue your teaching."

    Buddha was a teacher. I suppose he could have just found a quiet cave after his enlightenment, and we'd all be reading the Vedic texts. :)

    Sometimes, as we work toward a decision, the decision comes into view only after a bit of mental traveling in the interim. Kind of a psychological walkabout. Maybe if you were to find a place to 'hang your hat' for 6 months while a solution was developed, something that would allow you to continue your very valuable teaching would arise. Not because any of us prayed for this, but because we all work together to develop a solution that will really work....

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  2. That's sort of what I'm looking at now... the question is where? My Thai visa expires on Tuesday; I guess I could go back to Sri Lanka, but I don't have a ticket. Maybe something will come up in Ontario yet; my father says I can stay with them for two weeks, which is reasonable, but not very helpful in this situation.

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  3. It's cold in Colorado, but you could come here for awhile. I am not Buddhist, but I am vegetarian and agoraphobic, so I would stay out of your way. My kids are all in college, so there is lots of room, and when I get it clean this spring, a potential shed. I was raised in a family that always takes people in, and I have done this many times myself, most recently with a high school dropout who lived in my basement for a couple of years. I think the scary thing is not knowing how it will all turn out; that doesn't mean that it won't turn out okay--it's just tricky to see where you'll end up at this moment.

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  4. Michael Roe7:48 PM

    Jude, below, is one good and shining example of the good and generous hearts out here who can collaborate on a solution. My sense is that with time and broad communication about this issue, Jude's idea or another good idea will come your way, with all of us pitching in to help make your path forward as suitable as possible.

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  5. manjula01237:57 PM

    Ven; Yuttadhammo,
    I won't be a good decision maker.
    I don't have much money to help you either. Otherwise I can do whatever you want.

    Only two things important to you and all of us.
    According to priority
    1. As a monk practice for your own liberation
    2. Your teaching (because you can explain clearly what you understood)

    Buddha gaveup everything until he understand the reality.
    You left many things with us, if we want to practice. Don't bother. We all will be fine.
    You focus yourself, what you want to achieve.
    We can wait until that.

    May the triple gem bless you!!!!

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  6. Hey Jude! :P
    Nice turn!
    I am very happy to read about your offer. I hope Bhante will accept it. We can't let him disappear to the jungle.
    The family customs that you keep are highly praiseworthy.
    May the force be with you!

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  7. Michael Jones8:48 PM

    Dear yuttadhammo I live in vernon bc , you are welcome to stay with my family and I , there is no room for you inside but you can pitch your tent on the porch or back yard and we would make sure your bowl was filled with food every day.

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  8. Thanks, I appreciate the offer... but it's the same situation I was in in Ontario - going to live with people I've never met and who do not necessarily share my views. Anyway, not saying I wouldn't take you up on it, but it is a bit difficult to justify.

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  9. huitzilopochtli7:05 AM

    Could you explain to me the issue about following the monk rules? because I do not understand. I mean, it just seems to be a purposeless thing to follow. I don't know them, but you've mentioned the one that tells you you're not supposed to touch money, is it like, so that you won't be tempted by having money in your hands, and go off to hire a hooker or something? (I'm partialy kidding) Or that you can only eat food you've been given? so can't you harvest your own food for example? Truly, what is the need for those rules? I don't know much about the context in which the Buddha gave them, but maybe he intended them for the particular group of people he was addressing, based on their current social or economic context?
    At any rate, they still seem useless, because in the end, whether you act correctly depends no on you being following a certain set of rules, but on your understanding of your own mind. So if you've come to control your mind, to the point where money doesn't awaken, I don't know, tempations? in you, then you don't need to heed that rule, because you've conquered the problem which it addresses. Rules just seem to me as a limited mean through which people who are yet to weak to understand theirselves, and guide theirselves through that understanding, can gain a bit more of control over their lives. But if you have the means and the strenght to follow understanding, what's the purpose of rules?

    On the other topic, of teaching versus leaving to the forest, first I'd like to mention that I disagree with Michael Roe, with his example of the Buddha, because the Buddha reached enlightenment first, then started teaching, when he had nothing else to do, whereas you haven't reached enlightenment yet (you haven't, right?) so the buddha's example is a bad one, not adequate to your situation.
    It may even be that it's best to reach enlightenment first, assuming you will do so in this life, and teach later, because then you guarantee the best possible quality of teaching, without mistakes (I'm not implying that there are errors in what you are teaching, just that there might be, without you knowing because of not yet being enlightened)
    But then again, teaching others may be part of your own road to enlightenment, because teaching is "giving", in several ways, and thus an excersise in unclinging, and accepting of others, and many other things possibly. Teaching is definitely learning too.
    My guess is that it is a matter of you realising what your ideal particular road is, which means knowing what is it that you can gain from teaching. When you teach, do you engage in an active process of understanding with your students, or is it more like vomiting information and things you've realised (or that you think you've realised) in your practice? So what I'm trying to say is tha maybe you should understand what your inner process for teaching is, and with that you'll see whether it's a worthwhile pursuit. And I don't think you should take into account the fact that the particular source of learning that you are as a teacher might be lost if you go to the forest, because the internet is full of sources, and people who are looking for them, will certainly find an adequate source.

    I hope I could explain myself clearly, and that it was of some use to you. Hopefully you'll find the right choice.

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  10. tim strano9:37 AM

    http://pacifichermitage.org/
    it seems a place like this minght be ideal.

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  11. Orlando A. Martinez11:11 AM

    An open invite to a room in Ann Arbor, MI.
    probably is an innocuous gesture, but there
    it is.
    My wish is for as smooth a resolve in your predilections.
    You are obviously both valued and admired.

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  12. Bah! 10 years ago and I'd say come and stay with me. (also in CO). But now I've a house full of kiddos and a wife.

    For what it's worth, I've followed you for a while now on my journey. I've learned much about meditation and have seriously had much to consider about Christianity, Buddhism, and more. (That and the given facts of previous dietys in the Mediteranian before Christ, like Mithra who is essentially identical to Christianity so much so that it troubles me).

    Anywho, you have had in impact on my life and I would anticipate that you would continue to do so from afar, from Facebook, from Youtube. However, I understand you must do what you come to believe is best. Either way I wish you the best!

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  13. Adam Whiteman5:13 PM

    The writer of the Tao was told to write it all down before his disappearance into the forest. This he did and thus, has been teaching for 1000's of years ;)

    After leaving Korea and my monastic friends, which btw I have experienced some of the issues you have, I have come to miss it all. I feel like a fish out of the fishbowl... Flopping... Gasping... Not liking my bowl, though cannot locate my sea that is the eye of my dream, I decide all I have is the present moment.

    For thought...

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