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.