6 May 2008

Letter 1.28

Last full moon day marked the start of Vas, which is the three month rainy-season retreat, during which time all monks with higher ordination must stay within one residence. (They may go out during the day, of course, as many of them must to collect alms-food, etc., but they must spend the night in the same residence. Thus carika - wandering - is limited to nine months of the year. Not having taken my higher ordination this rule does not apply to me, and I am free to come and go as I please - though it's not likely at any rate that I shall leave the Hermitage at all during this time. The Vas is calculated, somewhat illogically, according to the rainy season of the Ganges River area, where the Buddha lived, rather than adjusted to local conditions. This Vas there are 8 monks in residence here - 4 Sinhalese (3 of them bhikkhus - i.e, having received higher ordination), 3 Germans (2 of them bhikkhus; 1 of them a thera - with 10 or mere Vas seasons since receiving higher ordination), and myself. The Yugoslav is spending Vas at Bandarawela.

The weather here the last week certainly went along - rain most of the day, and at night so cold a blanket is necessary. This part of Ceylon - that is, about a 30 square mile area - has the reputation of having the worst weather in the country, and I believe it…

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