20 September 2008

Letter 3.40

To my paper bed of dormant intentions, I add your generous letter. In NY the bums use the Sunday NY Times for keeping warm. In Thailand, I've got words to heat my brain, if not my body, that neither they nor I (but you) have ever heard of.

Last month I was robbed, while chanting the evening chanting. The thieves took the costly goodies, the cheap goodies, the useless stuff, the indispensable stuff. But, among the few things they left behind was your manuscript, Bones. Talk about devastating literary criticism!

This month I paid a visit to Achan Cha (Ajahn Chah), the meditation master of NE Thailand. Most impressive dude. No time, no place, for scribbledehobble (as you call it), save on the sly or on the run. Day starts 3 AM -- much group work, not my bag, but, they say, put aside your ego, your wishes. Do it this way and see, so I do but don't see. If you feel like doing it, he says (about meditation), do it. If you don't feel like doing it, he says, still do it. Put aside this ego -- 'I want my Dhamma this way -- I like my Dhamma hard-boiled/ soft-boiled/ sunny-side-up/ all of the above/ none of the above/ etc. etc.' First see Dhamma, he says. Then decide how you like it. What a way to spend a February! From 9 PM to 3 AM I can do as I like, except on the full, new, and 2 half-moons, when we stay up all night, chanting and meditating (and drinking a lot of tea). The Western followers of Achan Cha include some of the most impressive of the Western monks I've met in the East. Too bad. If it weren't so I could dismiss his way as so much self-abnegation as to be unworthwhile. But he is not so easily dismissed, this Achan Cha... What will I do next month? (Hmm, dormant intentions?)

Don't see any universal truths I wouldn't see.


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