Certain Uncertainties

Sorry for not posting anything here in a while (10 days!), it’s just been a bit busy in real life. First, the property thing isn’t as simple as thought; the property we decided on turns out to be too big for a residential mortgage, so either the group puts $80,000 as a down-payment or we find another property. The group has about $50,000 on-hand, so it’s not really feasible at this point. Also, interest rate would be higher as it would be considered a commercial loan. There may be a way around this, but we’re looking at other (smaller) property as well now – yesterday saw some 5 acre parcels, but nothing that really fit the bill – nothing that compared with the first property, anyway. Today we’re going to see another that looks a little more promising. Anyway, still optimistic and the group of people supporting this project have promised that one way or another it will happen.

Tuesday I joined a Visuddhimagga study session at the Dharma Centre in Winnipeg. Met Lama Gerry and his community; nice group, intending on joining every week.

Saturdays I’ve started Monk Radio again, for anyone who hasn’t yet heard. Check http://radio.sirimangalo.org/ for local time. I’ve also returned to Google Moderator for posting questions (actually somehow I thought they shut it down…), so you can post and vote on questions all week here:

http://www.google.com/moderator/#15/e=2057be&t=2057be.40

Wednesdays (I need a schedule! Oh, wait, I have one, here) I’ve agreed to start giving talks in Second Life again at the Buddha Centre. At its best, SL is a great platform for teaching; at its worst, well, I don’t really know how low it can go… let’s hope it works out well. Visit here for the location information and here if you don’t know what Second Life is (hint: you need a good graphics card and a stable Internet connection).

Jared finished his first course quite successfully, so he’s on track for novice ordination. Last night he asked me for an ordination date and I suggested April 1st (it’s Easter Monday, so a holiday). Otherwise Visakha Puja, but it’s late this year. Maybe waiting another three months would be good for him? Uncertain.

That’s all I can think of for now. More when uncertainties become certain (i.e. past).

Out With The Old, In With… More Of The Old?

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