Wednesday, August 03, 2005

falling into a routine

19 June 2005

(happy father's day, dad!)

So much to write--the past couple of days have been a blur, looking back on them, but when I realize that I've only been here 4 days, I'm shocked. It has taken a while to get used to the rhythm of the day; I'm not 100% sure what's expected of me, but I really want to help out as much as needed and become an active part of this community. The language barrier has made figuring this out a little tricky, but things are working out alright--I try to hang out in the kitchen, where it's pretty obvious what needs to be done and what I can help with. (let's just say I've been doing a lot of dishes lately...which is quite nice--I'm reminded of Thich Nhat Hanh's Peace is Every Step.)

This morning we went for alms--such a neat experience. Venerable lead the procession, barefoot, followed by the 3 other ordained women and then the two lay ones (Sai and me). We walked silently, in a row, along the street, pausing at homes where people were waiting. Alms is important here for two reasons--as part of the Vinaya, bhikkunis seek alms because they are to rely on the lay; at the same time, however, alms is crucial for the lay because it gives them an opportunity to gain merit. Collected merit brings good fortune and positive karma, and thus, a positive rebirth.

It was such a beautiful thing to witness, the faith and devotion that the people shared. And we collected so much food too!!!! A really unique experience, and imagine--I was able to participate fully in it...

Today definitely feels like Sunday--the spread at breakfast and lunch was incredible!!!! So so so so good. At 10:30 we had the offering and chanting for the medicine buddha, followed by a dharma talk by Venerable. Today's activities are open to the public, so there were quite a few extra people in attendance for both the ceremony and the meal. This is a tradition started by the Ven. Grandmother, and it looks like there is a pretty strong group of regulars--makes me anxious to find a sangha of my one...this community is so precious and, again, I am reminded of how much I miss having it in my life.

It's funny--what this sangha is doing is pretty radical and poignant (even the name of the temple; it means, "place where women practice the dharma"), and it is clear in numerous examples--the bhikkunis themselves, the praises to the theris, the Home of Peace and Love. And yet, a lot of what goes on here is also fairly simple--chanting, cleaning, general community upkeep. It's nice; this is so genuine and at the same time, very powerful.

So anyway, I am happy here. My days are slow and full and wonderful, giving me time to read and write and talk with my new friends here. The rest of today should be pretty basic--garden work at 5, chants at 7, and then bedtime!