Bhante’s Back

So that’s it – another vassa over. They get shorter every year, I swear. I can’t go into detail in this post, as time is very short these few days. So just a few quick notes for now.

I haven’t been keeping tabs on the blog, but I notice that the last post has 204 comments, so the discussion continues! I’ll try to catch up on stuff, but if you have anything urgent you want me to look at, please repost your comments in this thread.

Not much to report from the vassa, as one would hope. Our largest monastic community – three monks and up to seven nuns (a couple of the nuns did not stay here the entire time). Weather and supportive conditions were all good, and for the second year we have had almost all our dana brought from outside. Normally our resident laypeople spend quite a bit of their time preparing food, so this is a great help. A great big sadhu! anumodana! to all the wonderful supporters who kept us going for the retreat.

I hope most of you have been aware of the wonderful news of the two bhikkhuni ordinations in California during the vassa. If not, head over to the Women and the Forest Sangha Facebook page for photos and details. I was, of course, particularly happy to see my old teacher, Ajahn Pasanno, at the ordination, which included one of our alumni, Ayya Adhimutta.

We had our Jhanathon on Saturday night – about 40 people joined us for an all-night meditation. By strange coincidence, the Sunday is also the day that our old friend Jason Chan, who started the Jhanathon idea last year, was ordained as a novice at Na Uyana in Sri Lanka. A big sadhu to Jason, and we all hope his monastic life brings him fulfillment.

Sunday was also our kathina day. Our astonishing Vietnamese supporters came in busloads. There were over 200 people, and because of light rain, we had to all crowd into our upstairs hall. The Sanghadana was presented by representatives from the Sri Lanka, Vietnamese, Thai, and Western communities.

On Wednesday I’m leaving for my first visit to the US, with my long-term kappiya Chandra to help keep me out of trouble. We’ll be flying into Atlanta on Thursday for the American Academy of Religions Annual Meeting, where i’m part of a panel talking about women in Buddhism in the Oceania region. On Monday we go to U Alabama for a seminar on the same topic. From Tuesday 2 Nov Chandra and i will be driving from Alabama west. We’re taking our time and not planning anything along the way. I want to go for pindapata in the different towns, and see where chance takes us. We hope to arrive in Santa Cruz around 9th Nov, and take part in the Western Buddhist Monastic gathering there. A few days in the San Francisco area, and then back home.

I have deliberately left the trip as open as possible. I notice that a lot of the time myself, and other monastics, tend to travel around, but always from one monastery or meditation center to another. We are constantly immersed in an environment where monastics are ‘normal’, where Buddhism is taken for granted, and where monastics are treated with reverence.

Of course, the old carika practice – what is called ‘tudong’ in Thai – is much more random, and just follows where the path leads. In the Suttas, many of the most interesting dialogues happen when the Buddha meets someone, especially non-Buddhists, who challenge him or look at things in a different way. So I’d like to just go, and see what happens. I’ve been a staunch critic of ‘fundamentalism’, so I’m going to what is perceived as the fundamentalist heartland – the American deep south. Will this explode the stereotypes, or prove them true?

So in part this is an exercise in recreating an old monastic practice in new conditions – but I’ll be taking my Blackberry along, and blogging as I go. Observations, reflections, random doodles – who knows what’ll come out of it. At least it’ll help me while away long hours in the car…

If anyone has some suggestions for the trip, let me know.

Okay, I’ve got to go. Today’s program: talk at Macquarie Uni; dentist; blessing chanting at the new restaurant of Om and Suchin, our good friends from the nearby town of Bowral.

14 thoughts on “Bhante’s Back

  1. Dear Bhanthe,

    Do you have a place to stay in Alabama? I am a longtime Theravada practitioner very committed to women’s ordination, and I would like to offer you a place to stay in Tuscaloosa, where the University of Alabama is located. Please e-mail me at seanhoade@gmail.com or call me at 205-246-8432 if you need some shelter!

    Much metta,
    Sean Hoade

    • Dear Sean,

      Thanks so much for the kind offer. There is accommodation already organized, so that’s fine. But it would be great to meet – the seminar is, if i remember correctly, at 4pm in the University, so it would be great if you could come. I don’t know the exact place yet, but I’ll put it up here closer to the time.

  2. Hi Bhante

    Welcome back!

    I remember fondly completing the Jhanathon last year ! I think there were only three or 4 of us so 40 is a huge increase…

    I lam looking forward to your US blogs

    Regards

    Bill Cuneo

  3. Hi Bhante

    I hope you had a good Rains Retreat.

    Thanks for the news from California. That’s wonderful.

    I’ve just started reading your book ‘Bhikkuni Vinaya Studies’ and I am amazed at the amount of work you have done. The compassion you have demonstrated in taking so much time to do what must surely have been painstaking research…the mind boggles Bhante that you could be bothered when so many couldn’t care less….thank you.

    I hope any critics out there at least have the integrity to read/listen first… It’s worth a read, worth a listen.

    Good luck in the US. Am looking forward to reading all about it from this end.

    Metta

  4. I’m delighted you’ll be attending the AAR conference, the people there are often brilliant and passionate aggrandizers of knowledge. Are you planning to attend any other presentations?

  5. It’s nice that you have returned. :)

    With regards to your US trip, I’ll make a few comments. The deep south is known for it’s very generous hospitality towards guests. As a short term visitor, you’re going to find that people are very easy going and accommodating. You’ll hear a lot of “Yes, Sir”, “No, Sir”, “You’re welcome, Sir” and so on. Americans also love Australians (particularly the accent), so you have that in your favor as well. This being said, although Atlanta is located in the south, it is a large cosmopolitan city and is more sophisticated than other parts of the deep south. I’ve never been to Alabama, so I have no suggestions there.

    It sounds like you’re going to be taking the southern route when you go west (Interstate 40 West) which will take you through the Texas panhandle, New Mexico and Arizona on your way to California (It goes through Oklahoma and Arkansas too, but I honestly don’t think the people there will know what to make of you in your fancy dress).

    NM and AZ are stunning just in themselves. If you’re looking to do a bit of sight seeing, Chaco Canyon in NM and the Grand Canyon in AZ are two great choices that won’t take you too far from I40. If you are looking to hook up with other Buddhist types, the Upaya Zen Center is in Santa Fe, NM, about an hour north of Albuquerque.

    When you get to CA, I recommend that you take the 101 North to Santa Cruz if you’ve got a bit of extra time. This is the scenic route. You can also take I5 North, but there’s nothing to see – this highway is really meant to get people & trucks north-south as quickly as possible. And people really drive fast on I5. Coastal California – particularly Santa Cruz – is wonderful in its own nutty way. When you head towards SF, you may want to stop by Berzerkeley just so you can say you’ve been there.

    I’ll be interested in reading your observations during your trip. Welcome to the US!

  6. Dear Venerable,

    Great to read some posts from you again. I had really been looking forward!

    I mailed Santi during the vassa, primarily concerning ordination, and recived a very nice answer. I hope I will get to visit Santi in a not to distant future. Would be awesome!

    My very best wishes for your trip to the US and everything else!

    Mikael

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