to publish some of the pictures…
Although my ‘meditation cushion is burning’ as they say here, when one avoids to meditate as is the case with me now, I do meditate. It is not that I entirely left it. But as earlier mentioned it has become difficult. Seeing clearly the things as they really are is a bitter pill to swallow. Not that I really can see clearly, as the Buddha or one of the Arahants but for as clear as I can see, it’s bitter enough, so to say.
My mind is not ready for that total clearness, for enlightenment. It is scary to see clearly, actually. Much easier and convenient to stick with the defilements and accept that enlightenment will not happen. (Not me though, another birth is unacceptable, although having defilements is easier and convenient.)
But sometimes meditation can still be much fun, breath goes smooth and the world as it is dissolves and there are just waves of different frequencies … The Universe, endless space… (Yes, I watched all Star teck series and movies
As a teen and twen, I had thequestion of: What happens when one does not bear it any more?
There were so many monents when I thought I just don’t bear it any more, anything, life as such or that there is war, that people kill, steal, that men cheat women (and vice versa)… personal dramas etc, etc.
I thought I would go mad at some point but I never did (s0 far :)Suicide never was an option I would have considered seriously, so only going mad or drugging were left – and meditation! I think I was very very fortunate that I meditated from an quite early age on. What happened was that the feeling of not being able to bear it wore off. Until the next drama. And I learned that life is just like that. And I learned to trust myself that I will not get mad and not a drug addict.
But still suffering becomes so obvious that I ask my self: ’how can I possibly bear this?’ nowadays it is rather disenchantment, dispassion, disillusion… ‘How far can this go? Is really only enlightenment the releaf of it? How can I be so happy in this despair?’
The funniest of the ongoing changes is: feeling feminin.
I know I was born in a female body, I wore dresses and played (mainly) female characters in theater. I had boyfriends and fell in love like a girl with all that which my dear friend Judith and I summarized as ‘crocheing the curtains’.
When a woman likes a man and he in return seems to like her also, she would after the second date start to dream of a future together, in more or less detail. In the years when I was working as a comedian on a cruise ship, I was visiting my friend often and neither of us had a relationship. But we wanted one and we, when one of us would have met a nice guy who was not married yet, we would start all that mental proliferation of dreaming of future with Mr. Nice. Which, when they sensed it, made them run away screaming, I believe now. My friend is married by now, by the way – and happy, since several years.
So, what I wanted to say is, I know I am a woman. It didn’t bother me too much because I grew up with a big brother and learned from day one that a woman has to do every thing twice as good as a man to catch some attention. And I needed a lot of attention. So I learned to be better.
Since I am a nun I know that I am a women through the gender discrimination in monastic circles. That’s another story.
Though a woman I was never really girlish or not playing with my femininity, tricking and trapping men with it. (that’s my personal opinion.) I could always relate better with the masculine way… Did I think.
What I understand now is that I misunderstood and learned the masculine way of measuring and judging and applied it and hence was in accordance with the men but not really feminine. Of course I learned that being a woman has its advantages sometimes and I learned how women use them, but I always was rather on the side to feel hurt by women’s games and didn’t do it myself. (Please correct me if I’m wrong, guys)
Since I understood that I judge with a man’s scale, I started to see how this makes me strong on one side but also ridged. I never experienced myself as ridged, I have to say. I wanted the rules of the Buddhist nuns and I didn’t rest until I had them and I didn’t need to force myself not to break them. I had no need to.
I didn’t want to remember things that do not lead to enlightenment and many things like the songs of a jazz program that I once had disappeared out of my mind and I would neither remember the text nor the melody. It was not difficult to be celibate, I didn’t even think of sex. Once I said to Grace, who was curious about the nun’s life: ‘Even if 10 of the most beautiful and attractive men were dancing naked in front of me I would not have lust arising.’ And that was true.
And now, with 54, with wrinkles, hanging tits, and being a nun, I discover my femininity. It is accompanied with great softness, great love, overwhelming – which doesn’t mean that it is necessarily lustful but can sometimes. The practice that I started to add to my schedule seem to increase the sexual energies, though. Very interesting and slightly irritating since the disgust and the disenchantment with life as such and the understanding of how suffering comes into being also are overwhelming.
Sometimes I feel I could burst so full of love is the heart, and yet – all dukkha, anicca, anatta.
Coming along with the softness is some crying, not very often, but in 3 months certainly more than in the past 10 years together. All the songs from my jazz program came back to mind. And I take soy milk in the evening (set the case I have some) although earlier I looked down upon those who took unallowable things (such as chokolate, cheese, or soy milk in the afternoon). I let my mind go astray and just let it think the thoughts it wants to think. The opposite of what I did the past 6 years and of what I teach. Its mainly crap (what happens to become known as my thought, am not speaking of my teaching:) and not worth thinking but it is refreshing. And I speak during eating. And all with great love and joy.
As a Bhikkhuni all steps back. But this is where I’m at. Its good to see and to know. Big steps forward in seeing clearly and letting go. As a comrade for AD I’m certainly a pest for him. I must be annoying. But he didn’t say anything at pavarana day.
During this vassa some quite drastic changes are taking place. Don’t know whether it is the new practice that I included into my schedule or the past and disturbing experiences as abbess. First, I lost my enthusiasm to become enlightened, which is not too bad, after all. I was a bit fixated on that. Since years. The longest time I could not bear the thought not to become enlightened in this life and having to go through this all again. It is still not what I wish. It might well be that I detect in the end some bhava tanha, the desire to be but still I notice mainly vibhava tanha, the desire not to be. To exsit presently is perfectly all right. No worries. But although I do not wish to be in this circle of samsara again with a new existence after this one, I noticed one of these days, that the burning ‘must’ disappeared out of the sentence ‘I must become enlightened.’ It’ll happen when the time is ripe.
The robes were everything to me. Magic cloak, shelter, home, philosophy, all I wanted and wanted to wear. I remember having written or at least thought that I want to die in these robes. Well, as it seems there also happened a big shift in thoughts. This process started in OZ already. The robes are becoming more and more what they are, cloth that keeps heat and cold and flies and mosquitoes away. What I wear is unimportant. Wearing these robes I represent something which I have started to distrust, institutional Buddhism. Not that I seriously wish to disrobe, but I wouldn’t mind to wear lay clothes. Not the wrapping is important, only the contents. A pure mind can be in a male body or in a female, a body donne with robes or wearing lay clothes. I was reading the book about Dipa Ma, a burmese lay woman, meditation practitioner and teacher, she died as a non-returner, as it seems. Well done.
It is said by some that one dies after 7 days when one becomes an Arahant as a lay person others say one dies that very day. I believe it is metaphorical in both cases. Of cause one dies the very moment one is becoming and Arahant, the person that was does not exist any more and never will again. Although that body might continue to exist for some time. But honestly, I am far away from being an Arahant and don’t mind much to die, how much less would I mind to die should I ever happen to become enlightened as a lay person. However, just playing with thoughts.
In fact, the robes can be an obstacle. As a bhikkhuni one is in the center of attention. Just as I was a an actress. Many people hang their hopes on you, have expectations and all this. This is not welcome to me because not good for my ego. I am just not advanced enough for this challenge, especially since I want to please, I want to be loved and respected.
I sometimes thought that I should have seen the first sign and run. The first sign was when I first came to thailand in 2007, on the first day of my trip in Bangkok, in a monastery, a monk flashed me, I think I wrote about that earlier in detail. At that time I was so blind of faith in Buddhism that I didn’t run away but short after became a nun, 8 precepts. The faith is still there but not the blindness.
Seeing my own mind defiled, seeing the danger in faults, I try to have compassion with those monastics who break their rules because they are overwhelmed by the defilements. Sometimes I might walk on a fine line and might be close to breaking a rule, sometimes thoughts of desire or anger can be hard to resist. Personally, I think it is very important to be honest with oneself.
When a monk loves a woman, I do not judge but wish them well from all my heart. But if he breaks his rule because of this love, or if he just plays, I am about to lose temper.
A friend in a rich country far away from Thailand had met a monk from a poor country (not Thailand). He obviously wanted to escape the poor life of a poor monk in a poor country. He uses internet, they exchanged email and skype addresses and soon after he left the rich country, my friend received the monks mails and chats where he talks about love, about how beautiful and sexy she is, how they could have a physical relationship (I describe here in abstract words what reads as what would be known as ‘dirty talk’ or so).
I know love, I know desire, the falling for it, and there is nothing wrong even with dirty talk, – as long one is not a monk. Do I need to say that I know these things from before becoming a nun, especially the falling for love…
I felt like vomiting and crying when she told me about it. She was desperate because she never had a relationship and likes him. Can’t monastics not just disrobe before they do such things? Or become Zen priests or something like that where marriage and a sexual relationship is allowed.
This is really so … – well, I don’t have words for it.
A later addition:
I feel the urge to add that there are many good monks out there, like my teacher, his teacher and the monk I have the honor to stay in the monastery with.
Now three weeks after the vassa I came down from the mountain and seclusion and have been out in the world. In the beginning it was fun, the first couple of hours.
I went out with Nelson, he invited me to a dentist. It was about time to go to the dentist. Two teeth have been made, two more will be cared for in December. Then I was invited for shopping all that we would need in the monastery. We went to a Supermarket, one of those big department stores where you get almost everything. Yeek! Total sensory overload.
Talking with Nelson, who is a devoted practitioner and would like to be a monk (he is over 70 and the Ajahn of his choice will not ordain him), was good.
During the vassa I had thoughts of disrobing. Not always, but I played with the thought.
I had a very romantic illusion about being disrobed, that is: living almost like a nun with a friend who likes to live almost like a monk, each their own kuti, somehow food would just come, I could cook sometimes and teach meditation, everything would be just harmonic, happy and fine. And nananaa… Nobody would know me and I would not be cause for controversy as I am being a Bhikkhuni.
Looking at it more realistic, I would most probably starve to death because I don’t think I would ever fit into this lay peoples world. Disrobing would not be for the purpose of jumping into the full pot of sense pleasures but to dissolve more, to disappear. To be just a loving, compassionate elderly nobody. After the year in Australia and being abbess I thirst for that. It was too early for me to do such a job.
This vassa, for the first time since I ordained, nobody was talking bad about others. This was so healing. I did not ordain to get to know who is an idiot and understands the Dhamma wrong and who understands it correctly, who is a good monk or nun who is bad. (A person who judges like this implies to have the understanding of the Dhamma to be able to discern). Non of this during this vassa. Wonderful.