24 April 2008

Journal 18

About 11:00 AM I reached a little group of buildings, where there was a Maha Bodhi Estate (125 acres of rubber trees). The Maha Bodhi Society is the leading Buddhist missionary group in India and Europe (especially Germany), and was founded by a Ceylon 'hero', in co-operation with Col. Olcott, an American who came to Ceylon 80 years ago and did a lot of rehabilitation of Buddhism in Christian missionary-ized Ceylon. This estate belonged to the society (whose monks, by the way, are not only very worldly, but also very mercenary - at least those I've met). The manager (a layman, of course) had seen me walking when he passed me in a truck of goats, and apparently assumed I was going to his estate for dána; so when I arrived I was led to the bungalow. I, of course, didn't know what was happening, but was more or less decided, after yesterday's mess, to 'follow advice' - and given a seat. The grounds were beautiful and green with very steep jungle hills as backdrop and a rushing jungle river as sound effects: lovely. A huge bowl of rice was brought, along with curry sauces, but since I'd already had enough from alms for the day, I explained that I could not accept more without eating what I had, it would hardly be proper, etc., but took a few ceremonial spoonsful of the manager's offering. I ate my meal, but the manager seemed put off that I had allowed him to go to the trouble of preparing a meal for me and then refusing it. Of course, I had not 'allowed' it, for I had not known of it - but the whole incident seemed very Maha Bodhi—ish. (I had some experience with them both as a layman and a monk in India): very well done, very nicely set up, etc., but very unwanted.

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