The more things change, the more they stay the same, so the saying goes. Worth keeping in mind; in the world of sankhara, the new is ever as the old. On the other hand, this is what Buddhism attempts to address, in a sense; we strive for the unattained, a goal of extreme profundity, given the incalculable span and diversity of our existence.
In this sense, true change is to be welcome; more of the same would be just more samsara.
Much is changing here in new ways. But first, some sad news; Nagasena is no more. Maybe one day he will rise from the ashes with a new name and new robes, but the fire there is out now. It was a long time coming, but he disrobed on Monday, with the idea of finding greener pastures elsewhere. May he find contentment.
So much for the old. New news, though, is in the many people who have come together from around the world to work together on our organization. I just want to say thanks and let it be known the burden-sharing is much appreciated, and will allow me to dedicate more time to teaching and less to administrating.
This feels like something truly new, a system in place that will run itself and support a global teaching platform with sirimangalo.org as its base. The potential for goodness is immense; may it come to fruition!
More new, we will replace a disenfranchised male novice with a super gung-ho female novice – Sumedha will always stick in my mind as the only one brave enough to complete our meditation on the roof during a lightning storm. Today finished her all-night meditation for a second night, and said she hasn’t showered in a week. Hardcore.
It’s new enough to ordain a male novice, but a female one? I can hear the criticism already; I’ve heard it many times before. What started with accusations when the first woman yogi came here to meditate (it was said we were sleeping together in the caves – true enough, her in one, me in another) may easily escalate into a full-scale scandal.
Never being one for prudence, however, I’m focused on the greatness of ordaining people who are keen for it. The trip with Nagasena, though, has made me pause a bit, and we’ve agreed to make things a little clearer with Sumedha, like if we ordain you and get you a long-term visa, we do expect you to stay ordained and, yes, practice according to our teachings.
The moment I arrived in Sri Lanka marked a new chapter in my life; it gave me the hope that maybe I could find a culture that would accept me and which I would find acceptable. After all the trouble with the aristocratic Thai and American cowboy cultures, I was truly in doubt. Now, with everything coming together and very little standing in the way (save the unknown future), it’s hard not to feel some encouragement that maybe, just maybe, something new will be born from this samsaric mass of all that is old and rehashed.
On that note, a double haiku (a haitwo) to make up for missing last week’s:
old, tired, broken
clinging in desperation
mind makes new the old
bright, shiny and new
out of the ordinary
mind that clings no more