Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Happenings and changes

Greetings to all from the rainy, cool, misty redwoods -- weather which descended upon us yesterday and appears to want to hang around for awhile. No complaints (well, actually I'm whining a bit from wet shoes) because this is the norm. The wonderful, warm, sunny days of this past month have not been the norm, although they were much appreciated.

Including today, and Sunday (when I'll be gone most of the day), I have five more days here. And I've been here 4 weeks as of today. I'm so glad I came -- for so many reasons. I am so deeply honored and pleased to have Ayya Sobhana as a dear friend as well as mentor, and I'm glad to have been able to help her during this time, and to have such a wonderful opportunity to work and live closely with her on a daily basis. I had a friend visit for a few days and he commented over and over that 'this is not easy', meaning the general life here. And he's right. It's not easy and I didn't expect that it would be easy. Everything is in transition -- an outdoor kitchen under a canopy, the refrigerator around the corner, the pantry and ice box (literally) are across the way. The kutis are far from everything else so you don't want to forget something when you come down the hill of a morning. Or when you go back up the hill of an evening.

For the first 3 weeks or so none of this mattered to me -- I was happy and content and could see my life here easily and comfortably (more or less comfortably). I wanted to stay, intended to return. I'm not sure what made the difference, but for the past few days I've been dis-spirited, going through the motions, looking inside (not as deeply as I would like, but inside nevertheless), doing what I know to do, but somehow it's really not helping. Or, not helping enough, at any rate.

I'd already considered contacting the monastery in Austin to see if there was a chance I could still be useful there -- and then this morning a surprise email from them to see if I would be interested in returning there to teach English to foreign monks in a contemplative environment. Warm kuti, private bath, internet and electricity. Warm weather. Short walks to everything. And once the construction is completed, a good teaching atmosphere. It seems almost providential. And yes, it's something I will consider and consider closely.

Ayya, in her goodness and kindness, has helped to connect me with a woman in Sacramento who is actually going to come here and cook for her for a few days after I leave. I met her a few weeks back at the opening of the vihara in Santa Rosa. All that is background -- she and some friends from Sacramento are going to offer lunch dana to Pa Auk Sayadaw at his residence on Sunday, and Ayya suggested I go with them! The name may not mean much to most of you, but in the Theravadan Buddhist world, he is one of the greatest living teachers, also the teacher of my teacher, Sayalay Susila. There are no words to describe how much it means to me to sit in his presence, listen to his wisdom for just one time. He's old, and his health is not good, and even if that were not the case there may not be another time when I will be so near him and have an opportunity to meet him. So that's what I'll be doing on my last day in California.

About time to go start preparing lunch -- Ayya is still good and dear to me, weather notwithstanding, and she needs food (as do I).

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