2 May 2008

Journal 24

December 8 - rain last night: got up at daybreak, about 5:45. Dreamt I was being called at 4:00. Was the dream real? I don't know; but I certainly needed the sleep; no one said anything. There was a short worship at 7:30-8:00 this morning; otherwise I am left alone. I found a vantage point where I could look down into the valley, covered in steam this morning, which very slowly dispersed and reassembled above us, finally resulting in a slight misty rain. Finally the clouds moved out and new ones came in, at our level, and suddenly the whole place was enchanted: a silence descended, broken only by one song-bird, and outlines became indistinct, and everything not immediate seemed remote - all very fine. This place could be great; but it is merely comic: that people should expend such a great effort to build a place so far from everything, only to have flocks of dáyakás coming daily and overnight, with things so arranged that isolation is quite difficult and often impossible - that is comic, like one man digging a hole and another filling it up. Besides, except for the dhammasala - which is the arañña's raison d'etre, the place, in comparison with the jungle it is within, must be termed squalid: mud rooms with corrugated tin roofs. Couldn't they use some of the trees to build a timber hut? Or would termites destroy it? There are some araññas, I hear, where the kutis themselves are caves, finished with wooden walls where there is no rock, or even stone walls. (Anuradhapura is constantly mentioned in this respect, and I shall have to visit it some day.) Upon reflection the place could only partially be termed squalid - there are some redeeming features as well. But it is the layout that is unfortunate: everything is too close together for a hermitage, and also there are no fine long paths to walk on. (Though I fully appreciate the difficulty of cutting a path through this jungle.) There is a walking area outside this kuti, a real requirement of any meditator - a long narrow prepared strip of land - but unfortunately the former occupant of the room has put a clothesline up over it so it can't be used. That shows the real purpose of this place more than anything: show. They must have a walking area, for it is a need of a meditator, but they don't go so far as to even pretend to use it, let alone actually do so.

Dána was, of course, a farce, and not very pleasant - the surroundings that is - but I hardly expected anything else.

No comments: