9 May 2008

Journal 30

December 13 - night. Not much night-jazz here, but lots of fireflies: medium jungle, I suppose. Mosquitos are medium also, but there's something yet undetected that raises quite a bothersome welt. This evening a monk showed up - it turned out to be the properly dressed monk I had seen yesterday. I don't know why I didn't realize yesterday that he was from the hermitage - I wasn't sure, when I saw him whether I was even close to the hermitage yet. Any way, that accounts for his proper conduct, and since he is a bhikkhu his presence relieves me of my unwanted leadership.

It was difficult at dána, for example, to initiate all procedures when the procedures here differ from those of other places. (Every place has its own way of doing certain things.) I gathered, from a very fragmentary conversation in Pali, that there are 5 novices and 2 bhikkhus regularly here. One more novice appeared mysteriously this morning, leaving 2 still absent - a novice and a bhikkhu.

I gathered also that Ñánasiha is expected here on the 17th. Very mysterious: they seem to know all about Ñánasiha, who is one of the German monks, a very nice person, and informed me that he was in Colombo, and had taken his higher ordination at Anuradhapura in June, etc.; whereas the Ñánasiha I know was last at a hermitage and has never taken his higher ordination at all. Yet they say he is a German; there could not possibly be 2 German monks in Ceylon with the same name, yet they were quite certain of their facts; very peculiar. I am very much inclined to remain here until the 17th, not only to meet Ñánasiha, but to find out just who they were referring to, and if their information is correct. It hardly seems possible, since I had a long talk with him just last month about taking higher ordination. Another reason for remaining is that this is a very nice place.

I haven't explored yet - the day was spent in meditation - but there is a fine stream where I bathed, and everyone conducts himself pleasingly, and also I am left alone in a pleasant kuti. (The roof, by the way, is tiles; the ceiling is old robes tacked onto the rafters: unusual, but not ugly.) The discipline here is generally good - a few lapses and actions contrary to what is set forth; it seems, though, to be based on a different attitude than at Island Hermitage. At Island Hermitage there is, I think, a sort of grim determination to keen the rules, whereas here they are used as a pleasant aid: actually far preferable than at Island Hermitage.

I have been expected to participate only in evening chanting, which is simple and honest, and therefore quite nice, lacking the razzamatazz of Nugagala and the formality of Island Hermitage both - though there are pictures of Hindu gods next to the Buddha image, it's not too important, for everything is too casual for importance to enter, and a relaxing congeniality is the attitude of the chanting.

The place is, then, very pleasing, with only a few objections. No one here goes any further than the discipline into the practice of meditation, but that could hardly be expected of the younger novices, and the older one and the bhikkhu only could be expected to practice: perhaps they will develop a practice someday. Late now: to sleep…

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