Taken in and around Sydney.
There is nothing holy in killing, nothing honorable. Often I hear of honor killings, and today 12 journalists have been killed in the name of God. Every day women and girls are killed for some honor of men. In no case killing is acceptable. In no case killing is honorable. In no case can killing be for the grace of god, for if a god needs people to kill for him he can’t be that great, after all. A person who kills others has no honor in his heart and there can be no love, not even love for a god – in the heart of a person who kills is only hatred.
Probably the majority of muslims is against terror and some are peaceful people who do not wish to harm another. Many muslims do respect women and do not believe that they are inferior. Many muslims have a good sense of humor. There are a lot of moderate muslims who do have the heart at the right spot, help, laugh, love and struggle with the internal and external difficulties of live as anybody who is a non-muslim on this planet.
If those moderate Muslims do not stand up, when they do not come out and make it known, that these terror acts, these killings are not in the sense of the Quoran but the evil works of terrorists and fanatics, when the moderate muslims do not help actively to stop those terrorist and cooperate with the countries where people have been killed in the name of Allah by terrorists, then any hope that here ever mighgt be peace and acceptance between religions will be lost. Otherwise, how can they expect that muslims in general will be welcomed with open arms in countries where they seek asylum or where they live. How can people for whom killing is an option, who do not actively oppose terror, think that they can be accepted and respected in a world which is struggeling to find peace, equality of genders, races and religions. People, no matter what religion, what gender or race, all struggle to find peace.
Peace for the individual is of highest value. If we’d grant each other that much, peace, we would stop to harm others and the world become a livable place.
The Quoran has some beautiful passages and messages, and the original meaning as used from Mohammed has the meaning of struggle within ones mind, a fight against ones own evil. All mystics or spiritual people of all religions fight this war with themselves. The Quoran speeks about love, respect and compassion as does the Buddha’s teaching and does the Christian Bilble. Of course there are differences in some regards, but the fundamentals of love and compassion are found in all religions and these are the fundamentals which all beings need. It is time to remember that!
I sit here on the mountain and fight a personal jihad aginst my defilments with the high hopes that I can, by that, increase the peace in the world, by makeing this one person harmless, peaceful, without greed, anger and delusion. Although I have become pretty harmless, I know how far away from the final goal I still am. But I struggle, I try.
What about You?
since about one months I have internet in the monastery up here in the mountains. It is very slow and serfing or watching vidoes or pictures is not possible. It is enough to keep in touch via social media with friends and family, it is good for texting updating the blog and be stand by for a emergency alert from my mom. If that ever reached me, I would drop everything and would be on my way to get to her. That is why I got the internet.
Using Internet daily since one months – just for short every time, is really shocking. Not the use of internet is shockin in itself but the news that I come to read every day. When I was young I stoped reading the newspapers or watching the TV news. News get around quickly, people would tell me the news anyway. I stoped using a certain email provider because the home page is full of news and advertisement. The one I use now is at least modest in that regard.
Since one month I witnessed the siege in Sydney by islamists, shootings on innocent black young men, killing of police officers in return, honor killings of women, rapes, scandals in christian churches and among Buddhist monks, the ban of Bhikkhunis in Thailand, airplane crashes and today again a massacre in Paris by islamists. Most probably I forgot to mention half of it.
Usually I cannot see any pictures or vidoes, that takes to long to download, I just see the headlines and sometimes a newspaper article. And indeed internet has become for me a source of developing profound disgust for this world. Still I think the world is beautiful and I am full of attachment for it. Be not worried, I am not depressed in that sense. But I do try to look at it through the Dhamma and to take the news as a media to get detached through seeing the suffering.
I might live at one of the most charming places I encountered on my travels around the globe but even here it is obvious that there is suffering. And when the sufferings here are not enough, there is always the internet. Today I was considering to close facebook, though. But even if I do, I do still live in samsara.
The other day I spoke with a friend of possibly moving away from this most charming, beautiful place. She asked why and I told her about rats and grasshoppers and moggots in the food. She screamed that this is very unhygenic, ‘no’, I said, ‘they are cooked and a delicacy among the poor people up here, they put them in the food on purpose.’ There are more and other reasons which might make me move, but that will not happen before the travels, which seem to start end of February. I heard that the tickets have been purchased but I don’t have any notice yet.
The new year has started silently for me, no big celebration, no fireworks. I went to bed as usual without waiting for the time to pass beyond 0:00 o’clock.
Next morning I went to my new companion, the old monk who was a schoolteacher here in the village for 2 years about 30 years ago. He retired in the meantime and has now one vassa as a monk.
He is friendly and humble and the people like him because many of them learned reading and writing with him. He is by far more deaf than I am and so communication with him is extremely limited. Which is totally ok. He loves dogs. Which is great!
He had secretly fed Masher Muffinsson, to make him his dog. On the new years morning I went to him and told him that he shall feed the dogs from now on, I would prepare the food and he would give it to them.
The stressed monk did not understand due to my limited Thai and his deafness and was shocked that I found out that he is secretly feeding the dogs. He apologised and felt ashame. I laughed and tried again, this time yelling at him, that I actually want him to feed the dogs because I would go travelling soon. Oh, he was happy and relieved.
So, yes, I will be travelling quite a bit from March on. Hope to be back here for the vassa. Not too sure if I will be let back into Thailand because I am a Bhikkhuni and male Sangha has issues with Bhikkhunis. But that is all future. For now I am still here and enjoy it.
The dogs, especially Masher got used to Tu Uiquickly, he lives in the kuti where Masher was born and spent his first months together with me. Hercky always needs time to get accostomed to new situations but Tu Ui can touch him already.
Since this is a log of failure on he path to peace and not a story of success, the following story should not be left out.
Mental proliferation, assumptions one thought leading to another, who does not know this. I do know it well. This is large part of the suffering that we create for ourselves, thus far I have understood in 55 years of this existence. And yet, mara puts the trap out – and this silly nun steps right in.
One dog in the village is in heat. Many are, actually but the monastery dog Masher Muffinsson is profoundly enamored with this particular one. They met first when we went on alms round. She lives baan nai, in the few houses that mark the center of the village. Masher and she tried to get together but she was surrounded by other male dogs. So there was no way. But Masher is totally Masher, a real dude, he went back, fought the other males and won her heart and the pole position. Since then, he came home occasionally to eat but he lost a lot of weight. He is only one year old, birthday the 5th of November.
Last week I had to go for a few days and now, living alone, I asked our neighbour to feed the dogs. I forgot to tell them that Masher might not join every meal. So, the first thing I heard when I came back after the trip was, that Masher was gone. (They did not feed as arranged, the now rotten food of the day when I left was still in the pot). I called him several times although he was out of hearing distance, after a while he came ate and disappeared again. I told the neighbour not to worry, Masher is well and has a girlfriend, not time to come for the meals. They were very relieved.
A few days later, I hadn’t seen Masher for 2 days, suddenly a ‘troop’ appeared in the monastery consisting of another neighbour, her son who is soldier on vacation and another young man. They came straight to my kuti and kind of surrounded it. Knowing they will not harm me and are not coming for me, I raised my hands in surrender, laughing. The woman said something about chickens.
Chicken come to the monastery at feeding times, out of the blue, steal the dogs food and then disappear. The young man knew it, he had seen them and made a comment. Now the family had guests and as it seemd, they were in need of food.
Military like the 3 intruder checked around my kuti, with the woman as commander. One boy was sent to check up the hill toward the forest, the other checked behind my kuti into the forest and she was slamming with a stick on bushes and underneath my kuti. I could manage to say in Thai ‘no killing in the monastery’ but that proofed to be not necessary. Miraculously there was not a single chicken around anymore! Not long before the troop came there had been plenty but it was as if they had vaporised, they had just somehow disappeared.
The troop left. Outside of the monastery I heard a bang and send a blessing to the being that had lost its life.
That same day the neigbourhood children who had been designated to feed the dogs came to my kuti to offer food. One of them, a girl, had been crying, her eyes were still red when they came. Then someone of the clan came to ask for medicine, then another one came to check for certain edible flowers. An unusual busy day.
Today, 2 days after this eventful day, Masher had not come for in total 4 days. And suddenly a story started to form in my mind. ‘What if they didn’t come to kill a chicken but to kill a dog who killed a chicken?’ My Thai is so bad that I can easily misunderstand. ‘What if the bang I had heard had killed Masher, who was totally capable to kill chickens, if he wanted?’ ‘They usually don’t give almsfood, they are more a superstitious animist family than Buddhists. Commonly they offer food, when they did something wrong.’ ‘Maybe the children were send to offer food because they had killed Masher…’ and so on… ‘I would leave when they killed him’, ‘I would find out…’ etc., etc. ‘Hercky had been crying and sniffing all around, he would find Mashers dead body, if he was dead…’ ‘Masher would not leave home for so long, he would not …’ Thus the stoty evolved in my mind.
The morning had been sunny but then, like in a bollywood movie, a heavy rain started to fall with thunder and storm during the time I was indulging in the above mental proliferation. Perfect scenario for drama.
Luckily I remembered at some point, that I should observe my mind. Observing it, I noticed that this mind is running wild in assumptions and accusations. It took some force to stop the train of thoughts. But once stopped I decided to just go and see if he is still in the area of his girlfriend, enjoying himself. When the rain stopped, I took some dogsfood, in case Masher would leave for so long, and Hercky and I went to look for him.
He must have heard us coming, he came running and quieking to greet us. Thin he was – and happy that I brought food and so distracted by manovering his love affair. He seemed still to be in pole position. He could not eat tranquil but ran several times to his girlfriend to chase away other dogs. She was waiting for him in a bit of a distance. Tail close at the butt and growning and snathcing at all other dogs but Masher. So that seems to be the doggish version of the ‘made for each other’ story.
As upset I had been to think of his death, before that I was actually thinking what to do with the dogs when I go away, as it might happen next year for even weeks up to months? It wouls be good if Masher had found a new home. Then I only need to find a home for Hercky.
Often when I write something, it is outdated already when I post it. Either because it turns out to be incorrect or stupid or it changed or my understanding about it changed. Usually I post it anyway. What is there to lose in a journey of struggle. Nothing can be too embarrassing, for others may learn from it.
So, one stupid thing, among others that I wrote not to long ago was: ‘Beauty deceive me not.’ It sounds nice, I still like it somehow. But how could beauty ever deceive me. It is me being deceived because my mind is easy let astray. Beauty is mere beauty. That is just that. It is ultimate in its suchness but is relative in the eye of the observer. When I get deceived by it, well, then that’s where I am, greedy silly nun, attached to beauty.
Another thing that sounds stupid but isn’t that much, is when I wrote about male dominance in monasteries. I got quite some displeased looks for that one. But sincerely, there are I don’t know how many ten thousands of monks in Thailand and only about 80 Bhikkhunis, there are I don’t know how many thousands of monasteries in Thailand and only may be 3 monasteries for Bhikkhuni’s. Sometimes Mae Chii’s live in monasteries, only the nuns, but it is very common that they have a male abbot. So, it is a matter of fact, that by nature there is a male dominance. Without meaning it in any way badly or being it sour.
The monasteries where I happen to be more frequently are totally male dominated but I deeply love and respect those monks and abbots there. To many of the monks I know I feel friendship. But that does not change the fact that there are more Bhikkhus then Bhikkhunis. And to one of he few Bhikkhunis that does not feel right. We need many Bhikkhunis, good ones.
I think in Hongkong or Taiwan the Bhikkhunis are predominant, to be fair. So if anyone felt offended, please forgive my stupidity of not being clearer.
Recently I had been reading an e book that I had downloaded a while ago. The sweet dew of chan, if I remember the title correctly. Many things sounded familiar. The author gave instructional talks on various meditations. All of those meditations are known in the Theravada as well as in the Mahayana traditions. Although there are some significant difference in the interpretation of one and the same thing. The way he introduced vipassana meditation, as visualisation, sounded strange and certainly different from the Theravada interpretation but in the end, this and most of the rest of the book it seemed that Mahayana and Theravada have more in common than not.
One chapter only was really disturbing and since the book was from the 1980ties, I hope such misunderstanding or misinterpretation has been cleared out by now. There I read that the path of the Arahants is the lowest path of three paths, the Arahant-, the Bodhisattva- and the Buddha path. The author said that those who retire into the forest to practice meditation for their own benefit of becoming Arahant, are selfish and ridden by their tempers.
The Bodhisattva path was presented as the one and only path for a person who claims to be Buddhist wheras the Buddha path was depicted as too high and unreachable for a common human being.
As I am one who has gone into the forest and one who is determined to become an Arahanta (not sure when on this lifestream it will happen, though), I found that the description of the Arahant path is incorrect, that for one who seriously strives for becoming an Arahant, what the author wrote about the Buddha way is what one strives for when on the path to Arahantship. That is, from the limited understanding and perspective of one who is just at the beginning of that path. For me it is true, yes, I retired from the world and behind my kuti is nothing but forest, and I do have tempers, although I learned not to have fits)
It seems in old China some people who were not Arahants claimed to be one but were still selfish and tempered and so the whole picture about what an Arahant is or would be like, got out of frame.
Lately I happened to communicate with friends on the Bodhisattva path. For first, a dear friend, a most diligent lay person meditator, acknowledged that he is on the Bodhisattva path. I fully trust that it is really so and rejoiced, because this makes the world better. Then the wife of a wonderful couple I know told me her husband wants to be a Bodhisattva. And finally I was in a discussion about the differences between Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana. One of the main differences is that in Theravada the yogi strives for becoming an Arahant, a fully enlightened one, such as the Buddha’s many fully enlightened disciples like Ananda, Sariputta and thousends more.
In Mahayana Buddhism one might take the Bodhisattva vows along with the precepts or ordination. It is not mandatory to take the Bodhisattva vows but you are kind of a wimp when you don’t, to my knowledge. The vows are:
I vow to rescue the boundless living beings from suffering; I vow to put an end to the infinite afflictions of living beings; I vow to learn the measureless Dharma-doors; I vow to realise the unsurpassed path of the Buddha.
This is very beautiful, very strong. Germans have a tendency to take vows and promises serious…
When I was young and full of enthusiasm about Buddhism and had seen enough problems in childhood and enough difficulties in adolescence to acknowledge the presence of suffering, so some vows like this just came in right. It resonated with my grandmother’s (and mom’s): ‘Noble be a person, helpful and good.’ This, and the paramies, like unconditional love, compassion, empathy, seemed doable to me. They seemed to dispel the darkness of the first noble truth that there is suffering, a truth of which I didn’t want to hear at that time.
So I took the vows. And it started auspicious. But after a while I came to know – I can’t do it. This is far too big for the little girl and was somewhat disheartened. I saw things pretty much black and white at the younger age, no grey scale. No ‘I will try and do my best’. No room for failure. So I gave up the vows.
A Zen priest explained to me that one don’t have to take the vows by the letter, it is rather for the encouragement to do good and not to give up.
As for my part, I rather would take vows that I am able to keep. This is personal. I highly respect people who earnestly take the bodhisattva vows and I wholeheartedly rejoice with everyone who undertakes them. It does make a difference in the world, certainly, to have people who try their best to be a Bodhisattva. Just for this nun here it is too much. One day, when I looked at the ants, termites, critters, there are thousands in a square meter, so many flies, mosquitoes, moths at night, living beings in water… So, one silly nun decided to help the bodhisattvas and get herself out by herself so that they have one being less to care for.🙂
Another and even more weighty reason for me not to take the vows is, the Buddha was a Bodhisattva for many, many lifetimes and neither as a Bodhisattva nor when he finally was the Buddha, he saved all beings. How would I dare then to claim that I could do it, then? The Buddha and earlier, when he was still an unellightened bodhisattva, saved those beings whom he was able to save. He did it without vows. The ultimate saving beings according to the Buddha is to teach them the Dhamma and help them to see clearly. That is doable – even for me to a certain extend.
Yesterday I went to a funeral in the valley village, family of one of our villagers here died. There were 2 funerals actually but I could only attend one. In the monastery down there was A.D’s dog. The good fellow had followed his boss down one day and then had been bitten almost to death by a pack of other dogs. I tried to arrange that someone would take him to see the veterinarian and someone to gather some money to pay the bill, but I could not do much more because the car was leaving and the other passangers gave me through looks to understand that I cannot take the dog. When I came down I found him locked in, in a garden of a home, screaming. A woman explained with a disgust in her face that is because his wounds are stinking. Which is true, his ear is kind of fouling off. Several people saw the dog not leaving my side and mentioned: The dog needs medicine, but none offered medicine or help. I was at the edge of tears when we left the monastery and I could not do much but have someone else promise to care.
When Termites wanted to move into my kuti the other day, I swept them away as carefully as possible and then kept the place where they wanted to enter wet, that helped but I again was close to tears because most probably I had hurt termites, my stomach jolts when I see someone injured etc. etc. There are far too many beings in suffering, in fact, all is suffering, indeed.
So the truth why I gave up the bodhisattva vows is, I am a wimp.🙂
About 2500 years ago, at the time of the Buddha a girl was born into the family of untachables. Her name was Miganda. The family was very poor and had many children to support, sometimes they were starving. As soon as the children could they too had to do some work to increase the income of the family.
Miganda happened to be extremely beautiful. Her hair was almost black but had a red shimmer and when it was not bound into a knot and she stood in the sun, it fell in large red sparkeling waves over her shoulers. Her eyes were uncommonly green, drak green as some of the soft moss in the wonderful cool shade by the pond. Her laughter was like a small stream in a creek, gurgling and chuckling cheerfully.
When she was 5 years old, she was given to a small temple to learn temple dance and serve as templedancer. In old times that had been a holy duty but at Migandas time, it already had been perverted and so the job included having sex with the men of the village who come to the temple. But still it was not the worst business for a girl from the outcast class, commonly they were quite good supported and Miganda’s beauty would grant that she would have a good income.
She learned to dance and to serve and already she was shown how to please men, although she didn’t have to have intercourse yet, not before she was seven years old.
In beauty and grace she surpassed all other girls. One brahmin had seen her and he was immideately infatuated with her beauty, with the way she moved when dancing and with her voice when she sang. He had no family on his own so he decided to take Miganda, care for her and marry her when she would come into age.
He loved her deeply and dearly. She continued to dance, she loved dancing and singing but now she would only do it for him or for his guests. He used to prayse her in front of the guests after each performance. ‘She has fallen out of the skies just for me. She is like a heavenly nymph. See her face, see her eyes. Watch her simle! Isn’t her song even more beautiful than the song of a nightingale? Oh what a grace, every move is just wonderful. Things like this he often said. With every day he becamemore infatuated. She too liked him and was grateful, he was her benefactor and her hero. He had everything a poor girl would want, and more than that. He did not only give her what she needed, soon she found that he would also give her what she wanted. She learned to get what she liked by just one glance of her eyes. He was proud of her like a father and observed her jealously like a husband. When people saw them together they would wonder how this brahmin could have such a beautiful child, since he was not looking particularly good.
One day the Buddha had come to town. The brahmin decided to go and see him, to pay respects, he had met him on an earlier occasionand had been deeply moved and impressed.Of course he would take Miganda and he was shure that even the Buddha would notice her beauty and would possibly comment on it. He was shure the Buddha too would love her, every body did.
When he approached the Buddha, he introduced himself and then Miganda, mentioning that she must have fallen out of the skies just for him. He observed the Buddha’s face when he introduced Miganda and there was, to his surprise, no sign of any liking or any emotion towrds her rather than total impartiallity, total peace and calm.
He sat with her to one side, other people had been there before and more were coming. The Buddha did not look around into his audience but still, the brahmin had the feeling, the Buddha waslooking right into his heart. Miganda had been fairly uninterested while she was introduced, She hummed a bit and danced a bit, absentmindely. But once she had seen the Buddha, once he had looked at her, she dropped dead silent and did not turn her eyes away from him during the entire visit. She just stared at the exalted one as if she was hypnotised.
The Buddha started speaking. The girl moved her face forward and her mouth stood a bit open, she was absolutely entranced by the voice. To the brahmin’s displeasure nobody of the monks and visiting lay people took notice of Miganda. And although it seemed that the Buddha was speaking directly too him, he didn’t like much what he said. The Buddha was speaking about impermanence. How everything is impermanent, the body, the feelings, the mind, that even beauty vanishes through old age sickness and death. He said that what is impermanent is bound to suffering and thatone should not regard anything as I or mine or ashaving a self.
The brahim was disturbed, although he understood to some extendwhat the Buddha ment – this wasnot what he wanted to hear. Miganda also understood something about what the Buddha had said, she had lived in poverty the first 5 years of her life. She knew suffering, she loved impermanence because it had brought an end to her suffering of poverty and now she wanted that this new life would never end. She had seen the Buddha and loved him.
At home Miganda told the brahmin, that she would like to marry the Buddha when she was older. This and the Buddha’s speech about impermanence cause that the brahmin got depressed and even Miganda’s dancing and singing could not cheer him up for some days. Miganda was troubled, only seven years old she understood the situation was delicate and that she needs to do something to establish the former happyness and generosity in her benefactor. She cared for him, massaged him as she had learned from the temple dancers and told hm that she would, of course marry him, the brahmin and never anyone else. This relaxed the situation and they agreed to wait until Mignda’s eleventh birthday and then get married.
The 3 and a half years until her eleventh birthday passed quickly. She received male and female teacher to learn to run a household, to handle servants, to calculate, to please her future husband and she learned everything eagerly quickly. To everyones amazement she needed to hear a text or song only once or twice and could already repeat it almost without errors. Her mind was brilliant and redy to receive everything that would ensure her a comfortable life.
She had seen enough sickness and death in her family, she understood it would come to her too but until then she was determened to live happy and healthy in comfort. The brahmin had made several journeys and had gathered and increased wealth and also was determened to make this love, this beauty, this harmony, the wealth, all in his life with Miganda last forever and if possible even beyond this lifetime. Nothing should part them, nothing should harm or displease her. He still had the greatest respect for the Buddha’s teaching and would always give when one of his disciples came to his house for alms. But he denied impermanence, shall it do what it wants but not with him and Miganda. So the two had the same aim although for different reasons.
Not long after Miganda’s eleveth birthday a big wedding ceremony was celebrated. Miganda was a gordious looking young lady, she charmed everyone and walked through the cereminies and her life garcefully, delightfully.
Their wealth increased and their loving relationship was stable, they were beloved by friends and respected by most people. But even in such a wonderful relationship suffering sneaked in and impermanence made it clear that it cannot be denied.
They had had 8 children, of which only 3 survived, 2 sons and a daughter. Although the daughter looked more than her father than the mother, she was lovely and charming and later was married to a wealthy brahmin. Of the two sons, one was quite slow in learning but he was soft and goodhearted, always content and a cheerful companion, the other was endowed with a sharp analytical mind and the beauty of his mother but sometimes he could be short tempered with his less intelligent and less beautiful siblings. Although 5 children of the couple died and the 3 remaining were difficult to handle at times, Miganda and the brahmin perceived their life as happy.
The daughter was the first to leave the parental home to live in the family of her husband. The sons both went forth under the Buddha. Life went on. Miganda often thought of the Buddha and she always thought of him with love, a love stained by lust though. She learned a lot about the Buddha’s teaching through teachings she received of her sons. She knew there never was a single thought of love for her in the Buddha’s mind. She had great respect for his teachings and enough restrained to not think of him in a lustful way. But she also knew he was the only man she ever loved and would love in future. There was no hope for this love and her husband the life that he gave her, the love and devotion he showed her even now when she was older and her beauty was declining – she would not want to lose all this. On the other hand, holding on to all this had a flavourless taste, it was vapid and her formerly smiling mouth had a slight linement of bitterness.
When Miganda was 46 years old, her husband died at the age of 83. He was happy that one of his sons was with him when he died and again he heard speaking of impermanence, of old age sickness and death. His heart would not let go of this life easy, too much attached was he with his belongings of which one was Miganda whom he still observed with jealousy. Even in his eighties on his deathbed he was deeply attached to his wife. She promised him not to take any other husband after his death and to take care of the wealth. Then he died.
She knew how to run a household, how to deal with the servants, she could keep the family shrine, she could even do all the chants and perform the duties at the shrine, she was not wastfull with the money that her husband left behind for her. She made donations to the Buddha and often invited recluses in hopes her sons would be among them. Her life had become quite lonely and boring. She felt ages old but still to young to die. After the death of her husband she had started to eat more and had put on some weight. She tried to find any meaning in life but could not think of anything but comfort and wealth that would give her what she was looking for. Life just went on.
At her 50th birthday she had invited some neighbours and friends and expected her daughter to come for a few days. She had her servants prepare large amounts of rice and curry to offer it to the monastery and to serve for any ascetic who would stop at the house to ask for alms. She hoped her sons would come but she hadn’t seen them for a while and did not know whether they were in town.
Early in the morning she had put on a golden dress which she had obtained just a few weeks ago especially for this day. It had fitted perfectly when the tailor made it, now it was almost too small and could burst at hasty or large movements. She sat in this dress in the entrance hall of her house which had a semi floor through half of the hall. She sat at a desk and was counting money that she would donate to the Buddhist monastery and pay to the servants as a special bonus. She tried to prentend she was happy, that she would anticipate with joy the visit of her daughter but in fact, she was miserable. Her common charm that she even had now on good days, was gone.
Through a window she could see a recluse approaching from far, the food wason a golden plate and though she did not shine anymore, at least her golden dress would spread some glory and splendour when the morning sun fell on it. She decended and went to the door of the hall to await the recluse, It had not been possible to see who it was but her motherly intuition told her it would not be her son, which diminished the joy of giving slightly.
A servant opened the door so that she could step out, a ray of morning sun fell on her dress and it glittered when she breathed in and her chest moved up. The servant stood next to her with the tray full of fine foods. It had been raining in the early morning hours so the ground was wet and muddy. If she had to go out tothe approaching recluse a single step more, she would ruin her delicate slippers in the mud.
Miganda was occupied with trying to hold the breath so that she would not look fat and the dress would not burst and with finding the correct position for her to stand and wait for the ascetic to come, – she would not go down on her knees into the mud – when she looked up and he had silently already arrived. She felt his presence, the peace. She did not dare to look into his eyes but she knew it was the Buddha standing there in front of her. He had been a young man when she saw him last. Now he must be in his late seventies. She felt a flash of heat shooting up, her face reddened and her heart beat faster.
Pictures of her in her youth, her seeing the Buddha, feelings of her love for him which was tainted by desire, the wanting of comfort more than anything else, the try to deny of impermanence although it was so obvious, all this passed quickly through her mind. She ws abashed, ashame, without thinking she went down on her knees in the mud. Tears rolled down her cheeks, they were tears of embaressment as much a tears of joy. She looked at the Buddha now from below, through the tears she could see his old calm face, watching her without any judgment. She did not know how much time passedshe could not think clearly a massive storm of thoughts about her attachment, desire, lust, about her life and its meaninglessness, the gratitude for the Buddha to appear at her door on her birthday, embaressment and somewhat anguish devastated her ability to think or act.
The servant lowered the tray with the foods and she took one package after the other and put it into the Buddha’s alms bowl until it was full and he pulled the bowl away. He seemed to say ‘It is enough, young sister.’ but she was not shure whether he really had spoken. He didn’t mean the food, this was clear. The state of her mind changed, it was blank now and somehow refreshed. Now the tears that flow were tears of rapture. She felt blessed beyond words. The Buddha walked away.
After this surprising meeting with the Buddha, she went back inside the house, telling the servant do offer the remaining food to the recluses to come. She went into her rooms, took off her golden dress, alone, without calling a maid. She went to the room where she stored all her clothes and searched for the simplest clothing she could find, it was a white cloth that commonly would be used to cover things when guests and recluses came to visit. She kept wearing these simple kind of clothes for the rest of her life, stopped praying to the devas and instead venerated the Buddha in the shrine room. Her son taught her to sit and quieten the mind, he spoke to her about impermanence suffering and nonself and she opened her mind to accept it little by little.
Before she died she gave half of the wealth and the business to her daughter, and the other half of the wealth plus some gardens to the recluses of the Buddha’s disciplin.