Thumbs up

During the vassa, when A. D. was gone, I had to perform the ceremony of the uposatha day. I am a bit shy about doing it and have a book with the chants with me. Although I rarely really need to look into the book because I know giving precepts and the blessings I feel safer with the book when I have to do the ceremony alone.

Not many people had come, it was only a quater moon ceremony. That morning I had given the 5 precepts without piking into the book and Ui Naan and another regular monastery visitor who do know that I feel insecure to hold the ceremony by myself, gave thumbs up for the precepts.

Funny that I feel at unease , I was actress and should be doing these ceremonies easily. When living in Europe, I would have given a darn and just have done it. It is monks, mens domain? Who cares? Possibly I would have done it all wrong but wholehearted and with charm. Now after being a nun and living since years in male dominated monasteries, I start to feel shy like a girl when entering a mens domain. That feels wrong.

Anyway. That the two lay men had given thumbs up was a very nice gesture.

Then, suddenly just when I wanted to start to chant the parittas, a woman came in. She is the tallest person in the village and quite a character. She is a very tender and softhearted person, too soft for this world. So she tries to make it up with being overly rough at other times. Once I saw her watching dogs and chickens at feeding time and the chickens chased the little puppy dogs away and stole their food. She almost cried. She is also the same person who said the devas will not protect the village when I chant, also she was the one who came and took away the eight puppies that her dog had given birth in my kuti (remember the post? The dog ripped the mosquito screens of the kuti to get inside while I was away.) (I can’t say it was she who killed 7 of the eight puppies, nor that she broke the leg and tail of the surviving one, nor that she killed the mother dog, nor that she throw boiling water over two dogs. I was not present when those things happened.) She came in with 3 trays full of food to offer. One for all devas and two for departed relatives. Luckily I had the book where I had written down the northern Thai language blessing chant that is given in such an occasion of offering. Luckily the departed ones had simple names so that I could even read them myself. Luckily I got through the chant without stuttering. As if the devas came to support, when we looked each other in the eyes after the chant in some seconds of understanding and forgiving silence, the cold wind stopped to blow, the sun came out and the vihara was full of delight.

The rest of the ceremony went well.

Thoughts on sanghadisesa 10

Some thoughts on the Sangha disesa 10 of the Bhikkhuni patimokkha

Several times I heard it say, ‘a Bhikkhuni cannot disrobe’, or a Bhikkhuni can only disrobe by committing a parajika offence’ or ‘a Bhikkhuni disrobes by putting on lay peoples clothes and live like a layperson for longer than 7 days’. (to wear lay peoples clothes is allowed for monastics up to 7 days when in danger)

All these above considerations were made, because different from the Bhikkhu’s rules, Bhikkhunis have a rule which says (version of the Santipada edition): Should any Bhikkhuni, angry and displeased say: ‘I repudiate the Buddha, I repudiate the Dhamma, I repudiate the Sangha, I repudiate the training. Since when when were the Sakyan daughter contemplatives the only contemplatives. There are other contemplatives etc.’ If she says so, the other Bhikkhunis should admonish her up to three times, if she still persists in her anger saying the above,  she commits a Sanghadisesa offence.

Not that I had really seriously considered disrobing but at a point in my monastic life I was so disillusioned that I flirted with the thought, every monastic does, I was told.

Women do express their anger different than men. In a men’s community they might beat their noses bloody and then every one goes their way – but women, when angry and displeased either harm others or themselves rather verbally than with fists. And they keep nagging if no satisfactory change occurs.

So, yes such a rule as Sanghadisesa 10 which is the one I am just pondering about, is helpful in the Bhikkhuni’s set of rules. It is more than fair to give the angry sister warning admonishments to calm down, before it actually comes to the real breach of the rule.

The phrase: ‘I repudiate the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha and give up the training’ is to my knowledge exactly that which a monk has to say when he wants to disrobe. Whether he says it angry and displeased, lustful because a woman is waiting for him to get out of the robes or out of careful considerations with good intentions (there was the case of a monk who did disrobe to care for his mother but he kept living like a monk) is not relevant, when he says the formula in front of a witness it is valid and he is no longer a monk (correct me if I’m wrong, it is long since I read the monks rules and commentaries). Hence our brethren came to think that if we are Sanghadisesa when we say the phrase, then we can actually not disrobe.

This is of course not entirely wrong, but it leaves the ‘angry and displeased’ part out of consideration. Also it does not consider the words: ‘Since when were the Sakyan daughter contemplatives the only contemplatives. There are other contemplatives who are conscientious, scrupulous and desirous of training. I will practice the holy life in their company!’

A younger woman, not in her menopause yet might say something like this quite easily, when angry and displeased, not really meaning it, just being 3 days before her period. They need some attention, want to know that they do well and they should stay. Monks, especially who ordained early do not have enough experience with women to understand this.

To my understanding of this rule, should a Bhikkhuni be angry and displeased when she says it, just  (a Bhikkhuni sister) give her a hug tell her she should sleep on it for some nights. If she keeps saying it, give her time to talk, just listen. She might change her mind.

But then, when a Bhikkhuni is calm and fully conscious of what she is saying and doing, she can disrobe with the same formula as the monks do.

Well, that’s what I think about it. May there be no reasons for Bhikkhunis to disrobe and may we all overcome our anger.

In America

A long time ago in a country now called America 3 friends were living . They were what we now call Indians or native Americans. They lived with their tribe. The people themselves did not use this name to refer to themselves, only the intruders gave them these names. The different tribes had names like Navayo, Sioux, Apache… They all were strong skilled and proud people who lived a life in harmony with  nature. They were nomads and roamed through a large area where they would find food, depending of the time of the year.

The different tribes lived wide spread in this large country and fights among the different groups were rare. Some tribes were more aggressive and would attack another group but most of the tribes were peaceful and not fighting if not necessary.

Yet every young man learned to fight and to hunt. To hunt was essential for the survival of the entire tribe. Young men would test their strength and have competitions. Often these tests and competitions were friendly, could be bloody but nobody would be killed, though sometimes it happened that the young men were so ambitious that a fight in friendship turned into a serious fight.

The 3 friends of this story grew up together, were born in different families but grew up like brothers. They were about the same age and had never spend a day without meeting each other. They played together when the mothers sat or worked together and often the games were about training the skills in hunting and fighting. As much as they could not be without each other, they would start to quarrel. Two of them always got into fight and the third was always the peacemaker, the judge. He was intelligent and sensitive and to get him into a fight was almost impossible. He could turn every anger of others in peace and friendship, that was his gift.

One day, the 3 friends had already grown into young men of about 16 years of age, when their tribe was attacked in a summer with little water. The 3 had been in the hills at the coast out of the redwood forest on a lofty hill overgrown with grass. They had been in a competition fight. The two who always fought were trying to beat each other in throwing knifes at each other and escape from the knife that the other had thrown at the same time. The third had been the observer and judge. He was a spiritual boy and could see and speak with the spirits. He would become either the seer or the medicine man of the clan.

Suddenly they heard the screaming in the village and ran to their horses to ride to help their people. They shouted toward each other, half in play half in being alert that the village might have been attacked, ‘we meet here again’. They didn’t set time and date because they expected it to be the next day as always. Then, just when they were about to ride toward the village they were attacked by worriers of another tribe and all 3 were killed.

The two of the young men who had been fighters had been reborn in the same place in several different forms. Always as creatures which were quarreling and fighting against each other. Large and small, always together for several hundred years. The third one had been reborn in a far away country and continued his spiritual growth as a human being.

Then one day it happened that the third, now in a new form as a human woman, had returned to America and had come to the same spot where the friends had been killed with the open appointment to meet here again. Standing there looking and wondering why she had to come here, suddenly two flies came to the very same place. The flies came from different directions and flew straight toward each other as if they would attack the other but then just before hitting they changed directions and flew around her head for a while. There was something joyful in this meeting, as if 3 friends meet again after a long time. She watched the flies smiling and thought of this story. After the meeting the two friends buzzed off together over the meadow and she walked her way.

Old story

Once upon the time, its a long time ago, there was a little girl living. Humans did not exist yet, so she was not really a girl as would be regarded today. On the other hand it could not be said that she was an animal and hence a puppy or kitten. Whatever she was, she was born just 7 years earlier, before this story took place as kind of pre-human species. She could walk an two legs, but had more hair on her body. Less than a monkey or ape, though. Her face was shaped different than a human face, a mixture between ape and human characteristics with brown soft eyes. She was part of a group. Although they had not a language yet, they could communicate with each other through sounds , gestures and gazes. The group was at a state of evolution where they started to learn how to use some very simple tools and knew how to take fire, but they could not make it themselves yet. They were not wearing clothes or shoes yet but had some items and furs to put on or around their body.

This particular young being had not long ago lost her parents. They all had been wandering through the snow at the edge of a cliff. Suddenly a wild animal attacked and separated her parents from the group. She saw how they were slipping and falling off the cliff. After that she never saw them again.

There was some anticipation, the feeling the parents might come back but she did not think yet as humans do. She could not have nor express hopes, she felt a longing. she had emotions but did not react to them as we do now. hr the case of missing someone, nothing could be done rather than living with the feeling. She could not talk about it. She could not understand death. She felt loneliness and fear but life went on. Others of the group shared food with her and let her sleep near them. Time passed by, others had taken care of her. She had learned how to find food. She knew what was edible and what would be bad for her. There was one male who decided that she would be his, although she was not yet fertile. He took care of her, gave her to eat and chased other males away. She had not been asked whether she agrees or not. The male was strong and a bit brute, he could defend her. That was good.

The group had found a good place to stay, with plenty of food even enough in winter. There was a big cave in which they all stayed.

One day, when she was looking for food she had found something precious in a smaller cave a bit higher above the mountain. There in the back she found the shell of a big turtle, old, already broken here and there at the edges but in large intact. She tried to put it on her back. It fitted, she felt very protected. It took a while to approach it to find it is something unanimated which would not attack her and was of no danger. It was as if it had been made for her little childlike body. She could move freely and it didn’t fall off. Her male didn’t seem to like it. He almost didn’t recognize her and got ready for an attack when he finally noticed that it is she.

Although she had this male to protect her and her shell, she always felt fear. She did not know it was fear. It was a strong instinct to either run or hide, every little sound that she heard got her ready to get up and run and hide. She could feel her little heart beat fast in her chest in such moments. If she had been able to put it in words she would have said she doesn’t like it. Things happened and it seemed there was little influence on what was happening within the being which was not really aware of itself yet and around.

There was some awareness and that was the awareness of danger. And danger was everywhere. There were animals big and mighty, other two legged beings, poisonous fruit and animals, the snow in winter, males, even other females could be dangerous sometimes.

One day in winter after her parents had fallen down the cliff, the male came close to her and held her and tried to get off the shell of her back. He wanted to mate. Instinctively she defended herself, she did not know what he wanted, he was different from usually. She had seen others mating, she knew what he wanted but she could not understand why he wanted it and she didn’t like it at all. She ran away. He was behind her. She ran to the cave higher up, where she had found the shell. It was not easy to access and with snow and ice it was slippery. One part of the path was along the cliff. She hid and then she saw him approach, looking around for her, following her trace in the snow he would find her and then there was no escape! She jumped out of her hiding place and sprang against his body. She got hold at a tree trunk, he slipped down the cliff just as her parents had done. She stared down the cliff but could not see him. She was awake, alert. Something was working within her, she had just experienced her first moment of awareness of fear, of being conscious and acting according to her will, deciding that she didn’t want the male and remembering how the parents had disappeared out of her life and taking action accordingly.

For a moment she felt strong, invincible. Then insecure whether he would really not come back same as her parents, then she had another moment of awareness and understanding, if he would not be back, who would then protect her, who would give her food? The heart was beating fast as never before. She did not understand that she had made a mistake, such things were unknown to her but she had tremendous fear and wanted him climbing up the cliff. She stared into the snow below. Nothing. The sound of wind. howling, then other sounds. Someone was coming. It smelled strange, the wind had brought the smell of other two legged beings who were different than those of her group. Those could attack and kill easy, they used sharp sticks.

she ran fast up to the cave. It was a small cave, wide open entrance and only a few meters deep but in the back was a big stone. There she had found the shell. The stone was big enough for her to hide. There was a sound in her ears of her heart pumping the blood. She had never been in greater terror then now. She tried to crouch as small as possible into the shell behind the stone, trying not to move, but her breath was so strong. The smell of the two legged beings came closer quickly they had followed her trace. The smell was now stronger than the smell of the earth to which her nose was close.  She was stunned of fear. She heard the steps close to her and had the impulse to look but she could not move. Her breath had now become very short and fast. Then she knew that they had seen her, she felt their glances through the shell at her back.

Her head turned around, she had another moment of awareness and cognizing. She knew that she could not escape, she had seen what happened when a prey was hunted down, she was now the prey and the shell was no protection. Not knowing what an end is she knew instinctively ‘this si the end’ the blood whirring in hear ears. She understood that she was in terrible fear and would end and wanted to see the two legged predators for the first and last time close. Before she could come to any conclusion about what she saw, there was pain from the spears that had turned her over and pierced her belly first and then her chest. then it got a bit clod and the pain was gone. Then that was the end.

Chicken run

Chicken run

I had one female chicken around my kuti with her little tweety, they are both quite tame, Ruby, the red headed violent hen and her offspring Rubitoo. Suddenly appeared a group of 5 young chickens and a young hen with her 7 chicks in addition to the regular guests of the monastery, Gawski and Gawbert two roosters in company of their hens. They all, seeing Ruby and Rubitoo coming on the veranda felt inspired to come close.

I admired Rubi a bit because she was fearless. She was totally mother and whoever was in the way of her young one’s food, was chased away. She and dog Masher Muffinsson kept all other chickens away. She changed her behaviour, became a bit tame and Masher is out of house often these days, dog Hercules loves all other beings and is far away from chasing any chicken. When chickens come and want his food, he goes away and lets them eat. I have to stay with him while he eats otherwise he would not get anything, Masher and the Chickens would not leave a single grain of rice for him.

Hercules (as all other cats and dogs of the monastery) received his name from A. D. The name Masher could not be more fitting for this young dog.

Hercules in the contrary could not be more unfitting for the dog who is carrying this name. A. D. Brught him to kun Pang when he was tiny. He had had his both frontlegs broken and was walking wobbely, he had almost no hair and was afraid of everything. But already then he had this great affection for other beings. He loved Shabala who is now again in Sri Pradu, he loved Masher, he loved the cats and he even loves the chickens. He would play with them and take them carefully into his mouth instead of biting them to death as other dogs. When the cat was dying he was around and would have licked it, if I hadn’t stopped him. He loves picking the rice together with the chickens when I throw it on the ground. The chickens and he have their nap in the afternoon underneath my kuti together.

He is fearful and slow in understanding but is so happy when he understands something and does it right. But then again, he has such fine senses, he hears and smells and reacts to everything much earlier and quicker than the other dogs. When I have a wound he comes and wants to lick it and when I had and infection in my ear, he sniffed my ear and started licking. When I had an invasion of ants coming towards my kuti, I saw just a part of the armee that had already arrived. Hercules sniffed along the kuti to the middlepillar, when I checked why, I saw that there it was full of ants.

He is now about one year old, beautiful white full and fluffy hair, with black eyes. His legs grew straight, he does not jump much but his walk is not wobbely any more. He has a funny howl when he is happy or exited sometimes just makes little

Yeasterday I saw him watching the young hen with her 7 chicks, near him was a fruit that had fallen from a bush. He got up, took the fruit carefully in his mouth and brought it to the hen who is not afraid of him. She and the chicks ate the fruit.

He is the first at chanting and even comes to get me when I am getting late. He must be a Bodhisattva, in his white coat, devoted to the Buddhas, and after he had taken the bodhisattva vow, something went wrong and he became a dog. That is just a theory, not a knowledge.

P.S. weeks after writing this
He is just a wonderful and affectionate, sensitive being. When I now went down to Wat Sri Pradu for some ceremonies, I took him with me. Masher Muffinson is deeply in love with a young dog of the village and the neighbor promised to take care of him. He is an (almost) everybodies darling, strong and capable. He would even survive alone in the forest.

Hercules gets along better every day with the other dogs of this new place, even the cats stopped hissing at him. I am relieved that he fits in, although he is still afraid. It seems that I might travel to Australia for two months. It would have been breaking my heart to leave him without giving him into care of someone. I vehemently state that it is not my dog, as a nun, a homeless with uncertain future, I cannot not take responsability for a dogs. But I have to admit I am attached to this little Hercules with his simple good mind. Being a dog in Thailand is a really, really unfortunate birth. Life as dog is dangerous and usually ends early and miserable. May lovely Hercules and Masher Muffinsson, the always guilty Shabala and terrible Muffin live a long happy doslife and find a peaceful end and a fortunate next birth.

For what may happen to dog’s in Thailand see this link watch the vidoe of the illegal dog trade (if you have strong nerves, I could not watch it, I saw just a few pictures and shut the video, crying) and sign the petition!

https://www.soidog.org/Default.aspx

Alone at home

A. D. Has left the monastery right after the vassa to go to Chiang Mai to study Abhidhamma. He is gone since about a week. He was away so often and long during the time we lived in the same monastery that I do not really feel much differecne yet. The mayor difference to times when he earlier had been away for some days or some weeks is, that now he took the cats with him.

Masher is out because some of the female dog sof the village are in heat. He is totally enthusiastic about it, comes only here to eat and to groan at Hercky and the chickens when they come near. He is an adult now since he had his first sex althou he’s premature, he is not even one year old. This morning on almsround I saw him and a youg female dog trying to get together but she was protected by 4 senior dogs. There was just no way to get together. Hercky is not interested, he lives a chaste life, like me and we are, except for the feeding times alone in the monastery.

After the past exhausting days it is most welcome to be alone in a quiet monastey. I caught a cold and Hercky has the skin desease and is like me very tired, so we rest a lot, I in the kuti and he in the shadow underneath.
Most probably I will change Hercky to Hiri or to another more fitting name.

Other changes are. I am not travelling for two months as I had originally intended. Then I would have been back for a months and again travelling in February. Set the case I will be invited there again. Then again two months here and then to Germany in Spring. I am also again invited to go to Australia but am not sure when I will find the time.

Papanca

Since this is a log of failure on he path to peace ond not a story of sucess, the following story should not be left out.

Mental proliferation, assumptions one thought leading to another, who does not lnow this. I do know it well. This is part of the suffering, thus far I have understood in 55 years of this exsistence. And yet, mara puts the trap and this silly nun steps right in.

One dog in the village is in heat. Many are, acally but Masher Muffinsson is profoundly enamored with this particular one. They met first when we went on almsround. She lives baan nai, in the few houses that mark the center of the illage. 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, and he went back, faught the other males and won her heart and the pole position. Since then, he came home ocassionally 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 neighbors to feed the dogs. I forgot to mention that Masher might not join every meal. So the first thing I heard when I came back was that Masher was gone. (They did not feed as arranged, the now rotten food of the day when Ieft was still in the pot). I called several times although he was out of hearing distance, after a while he came ate and dissapeared again. I told the neighbors 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, suddnly a ‘troop’ appeared in the monastery consisting of another neighbor, her son who is soldier on vacation and another young man. They came straight to my kuti and kind of surrpunded 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, the young man was a bit irritated.

Chickens come at feeding times out of the blue, steal the dogs food and then dissapeare. The young man knew that, I had told him once. The family had guests and it seems they were in need of more food. Millitary like the 3 checked around my kuti, with the woman as commander, one boy was sent to check up the hill towards the forest, the other checked behind my kuti into the forest and she was slamming with a stick on bushes or underneath my kuti. I could manage to say in Thai ‘no killing in the monastery’ but that proofed to be not nessecary. Miraculously there was not a single chicken! Not long before the troop came there had been plenty but it was as of they had vaporised, they had just somehow dissapeared. 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 neigborhood children who had been designated to feed the dogs came to my kuti to offer food. One of them, a girl is the above mentioned neigbprs daughter. She had been crying, her eyes were still red when they came. Then someone of that clan came to ask for medicine, then another one came to check for certain edible flowers.

Today, 2 days after this eventful day, Masher had not come for 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 shoot was to kill 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 …

The morning had been sunny but 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. Luckily I remembered at some point, that I should observe my mind. 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 manovering his love affair. He seemed still to be in pole position. He could not eat tranquil but run 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 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.

‘Alles wird gut’

This morning was incredibly beautiful, I was watching out of one window, some butterflies danced in the morning sun, all kinds of birds sang, fluttering around the trees and bushes, the puppy dogs played, a Kolibri like insect was sucking nectar from the blossoms. Too beautiful to be real, almost.

Natures soothing gift to me after seeing A.D.’s dog in the valley monastery yesterday at the funeral in pain and despair, suffering from the wounds that other dogs had caused him by biting him almost to death.

When I came ‘home’ to the beauty of Kun Pang, after the funeral and an unsuccessful visa run, I saw that Masher Muffinsson, one of the monastery dogs, had large wounds on his back. Instantly I  thought it would be burns and after some investigation with the help of our helper, it was clear that someone of the villagers not to be mentioned had thrown boiling water on the poor dog while I am away.

I thought I have so much compassion for these dogs and am suffering with them. But this morning, seeing all the beauty deceiving me, deluding my mind, I found that what I think is compassion and empathy is in rooted in anger. The anger that I cant do anything, can’t ease the pain, anger that others don’t help, anger that there is suffering as a natural fact. Still it is compassion we would say,  though it is at a very worldly level, drenched by defilements and not by wisdom.

Here I sit now, wondering how ultimate compassion would be like, would feel like, longing for it. Often an image or a thought of the Buddha is in my mind and it is a joy, an example, idol, ease, refuge, today it is shining, far far away like the moon.

When I was a child, once I fell  by rocking on a chair which was not a rocking chair. My mother had told me many times that I shall not do it – but what can I say, I was not the most obedient child and enjoied rocking a non-rocking chair. Though not injured gravely, I had a lot of pain and cried. At that time my mum had a woman helping her cleaning the house. This cleaning woman was near me and she rushed by and took me in her arms and said: ‘Alles wird gut.’ ‘Everything will be fine.’ My mum, although commonly a warm hearted person, was in the kitchen and from there scolded me for doing what I was not allowed to (she must have used her supernatural mum powers, how else could she have known that I was doing something I was not allowed to do) and told me to stop crying and bear the consequences of my wrong doing.

Both, the having to bear the consequence of wrongdoing and the warmth of a compassionate hug when suffering is since then deep engraved in the mind and part of the (unintended) Buddhist teaching which I received (unknowing) in childhood. This ‘alles wird gut’ was for a long time a goal, like the holy gral, the happy end, something that I wished for. Now I know that it is the third noble truth and Nibbana the only possible happy end. No beauty, no birds and lullabies can give real peace, really.

So, beauty of the external world, deceive me not, delude me no longer!
(Yes, I know, it is not the beauties fault but my delusion that keeps me in the trap. 🙂

Report, a few days later: when I went down I could arrange that a friend collected some money and arrange for the dog to see the veterinarian. I heard that he is well now, being fed everyday getting medical treatment and fitting in in the community of dogs at the monastery where he now stayes. Masher’s wounds are healing very well. He happily accepted a  wooden box covered with mosquitonet as refuge for his healing process. There the flies, mosquitoes and large wasps which were always around his open wounds could not reach him. So, that is all good. 🙂

These days

One of these days

Some may think I’m living a peaceful tranquil life up here. That is often so but not last week from end of the vassa until yesterday.

A while ago A. D. decided to spent the next months studying Abhidhamma in Chiang Mai. In preparation for departure and to join some ceremonies called salakapat, he was gone often at the end of the vassa and so I had to care for the 2 monastery dogs, A.D.’s 3 kittens in his absence. I too had to leave the monastery to go to Chiang Mai to get the visa extension which unfortunately is due most times during the vassa. That was quite some hussle but I got it. Then I went to Ajahn Tongs 91st birthday. Another story. During my absence A.D. took care of all.

One kitten had caught a disease and although I tried to do intensive care and A. D. brought antibiotics the kitten died although it seemed to get better. The other two kittens had diareah whle A. D. was gone, short before the end of the vassa. Originally I had intended to give the vihara a thorough cleanup before the ceremony that markes the end of the rains reatreat, vassa. In reality I was much more cleaning persian kitten’s bums. You have to do the bum rinse straight after they drop their diarreah for several reasons, first, because they surely come to the veranda and sit there with their dirty bums, secondly because the excrement dries in quickly in the long hair and then it is very difficult to get it out and thirdly when they see you they come and rub against your legs… and of course because a little kitten with diareah stinks enormous. So that meant to be after the kittens. And also I had to be after the dogs because they would go where the kittens defecated and wanted to eat the droppings. The kitten food must have a lot of nutriments that the dogs were so keen on the excrement.

The villagers came two days before the ceremony to cut grass and herbs on the monastery ground with their motor trimmers. The animals were terrified and either escaped into the bushes or wanted to come inside the kuti, meowing or queeking. For me was left to sweep the grounds and pile cut of braches, leaves etc.

The vihara cleanup therefore was cut a bit short but between washing blankets that had been sullied by cat’s diarreah, sweeping, bum rinsing and so on I could prepare the vihara for the ceremony well enough.

A.D. came back the day before the ceremony and brought a farewell gift for me. A cat. I had said that I like one, a Siamese. I didn’t really think he would bring one but it so happend that he went to his sponsors birthday and they, living in a monastery, breed siamese cats. This particular one was very small although already two years old. As kitten it had been maltreated by a monk so it hated monks. A. D., on his way back to Kun Pang stopped at a monastery for ceremonies around the area and the cat, terrified by the unknown monks and chased by dogs ran away. When they, A. D. And the cat finally arrived here, the cat was sick. I saw it, a beautiful small creature, beige with brown tips, and although I am not a specialist in cats, I instantly thought that it will die. It seemed to have caught the same disease as the other kitten which had died just a week or two earlier.

The nose was blocked and and the eyes sour and full of pus. Almost every hour I cleand the eyes and the nose and drippled some water in the cats mouth. There was some life and some will for life in the little one, but not much. Enough to reject food, that I tried to give, enough to spit out milk and to creep back in the box that I had prepared. For two days it drank and slept under a blaket, it could not keep itself warm and got annoyed when I interrupted the sleep to wipe off nose and eyes and give some water. Probably the best would have been to just let it die from dehydration which would have happend quickly without my interferance. But instead I learned to grind tinned fish and mix it with with milk and water. A. D. had kindly left some fish and some milk for the cat. With the detremination not to let the cat die I wiped and fed regularly but had no medication to give nor the possibility to get some. On the fourth day I thought it is getting better. On the fiths days the cat died short after I had rushed to eat something before it would be too late, I ate, rushed back and took the cat on my laps. We sat together. The cat had been kind of paralised in the morning, it could not move the eyelids , earlier it had often kind of held my hand by softly but firmly putting its claws of the front paw around my thumb, in the morning I could feel the intention of the cat to do it but there was no more power to get the claws out. The feet started to get cold although I keept the cat warm but It had swallowed all water with groung fish that I had drippled into its mouth the whole morning. It made sounds of relief when I wetted the eyes. Then, at about noon, when I sat there with the cat on my laps it was clear that it would not survive, it was already closer to death than to life. Not long after, it started to have spasms. It vomited out everything that I had given. The heart was still beating, in the fingertips I could sense the quick flat pulse beating but the breath got slower. I gave soft hits on the back which triggert some breaths. Then the little body reliesed of the urin and breated its last breath.

Among all the kammic neutral or unwholesome thoughts that I noticed in my mind thoughout thr cat’s dying process, there was one moment, when the cat vomited and urinated all over me, that was striking. Instead of anger and disgust as I would have assumed there would be, I noticed that there was, in rudiments, as an idea of comprehension, ease and peace born of love and compassion. Love, compassion and ease with whatever comes is the natural response to suffering when the mind is not obstructed by defilements.

After the cat had done its last breath, I had a short uproar and outcry of dispair. Among many thought moments of ‘I have to bur the corpse’, ‘ I must boil my robes’, ‘the breeder who gave the cat will be upset’, ‘I knew it would die’, etc. I also noticed that the sadness that I could not keept the little cat alife, was a result of my own fear of death. Will I have spasms, vomit and urinate at the moment of death? Did my father who died alone? (Autopsy said he died peacefully in his sleep) Will my mom? Will I be able to bear to be so close to death with my mum or my uncle?

The aggregate of form is limited, in is abilities and in durability, very limited and very fragile.

In the evening I burned the dead corpse so that the dogs would not eat it.

During those days one of the dogs developped a skin desease which causes the hair to fall out. Fortunately one of the villagers had an injection for that desease which is very common here at home and came after the ceremony to give the injection. Today both dogs are not eating. May they be well.

Madeira

When I changed from za zen to vipassana practice, I learned about the four fiundations of mindfulness. One is also aware and mindful of these when doing za zen, but I had not heard about it in such detail and was not familiar with the satipatthana sutta. Of course, as diligent meditation practitioner one does not exclude any of the foundations of mindfulness, the body, feelings, mind and mind objects (Dhamma), one is aware of all (one at the time) – mostly it is the first and easiest,awarenss of the body.

Since one year, after leaving Santi and moving to Thailand and living quite secluded in the mountains, I determened to do cittanupassana as main object of observation, to become aware mainly of the mind and mindobjects, instead as before mainly kayanupassana, the mindfulness on the body. The results of that change are sometimes funny and sometimes scary. Funny in the sense that by trying to be aware of the mind, of all intentions, of impulses, of thoughts, perceptions and everything that is going on in the mind, I sometimes know what I was intending or thinking but I was so focused on it, that I totally lost awarenes of the body so much so that I stumbled over things that I didn’t see, or things slipped out of my hands and so on.

To know the intentions in regards to physical activities i.e. is relatively simple, often an inention for an activity does not come directly before one performs the action but way earlier, and then later, when the conditions allow, the impuls is sent to actually really perform the action. Often intention and impulse follow each other and seem to arise at the same time, which is not true, they come one after the other, but in quick succsession. Sometimes the impulse may seem to arise even before the intention or at least before the intention becomes known.

To know ones intentions for verbal activities or generally in interactions with other people that is different, much more complex to see and requires a lot of honesty. One may say something and think the intention is through and through good and noble but totally denies the underlying defilements. Simple example how often do we say: ‘Oh, that’s nice.’ And we might think we say that only out of so much altruistic joy but there might also be envy or attachment which we usually do not become aware of.

As far as I remember, I read in the Samyutta Nikaya that the intention set in a mind is like the river ganges which flows into one direction and this direction cannot be changed even one were to dig with a spade. In other places it is said that ‘what we think that we become’. That is the scary part. Especially since we do not know what we think most of the times. And when we come to know, it is not wholesome most of the time. I need to make a far greater effort to make sure that one of the paramies pervades my mind and not one of the defilements.

Again and again people say, I cannot stop thinking. Something interesting is: One cannot stop thinking because one wants to think, because one thinks ones thought would have any importance, which is a misinterpretation. A thought might have as much value as a fart. But thinking gives the impression one is doing something and can influence ones surrounding, whereas feeling is entertaining and give the impression one lives, something is happening. The mind wants to be active and think even when we say we would like to have peace and would not want to think so much. But in fact the reason why we can’t stop thinking is that we are attached to our thoughts and that we miss them when they are getting less or it becomes frightening when they dissapear.

What I learned so far is that one cannot trust the mind at all. One cannot trust ones perceptions. The intention for an impulse might be a totally different from what one thought it were.

And most importantly, everything that we see, hear, smell etc. will leave an imprint on the mind. When we are not observing the mind it cannot be noticed. As far as I understand the matter from reading the texts, this would be in regards to the cittabhavanga. Things that we see, even movies that we watched, one has long forgotten that one ever saw that movie or saw this image but suddnely it fashes up. An example of today, I was relaxing and closed the eyes, some blue dots appeared as a flash. I had the thought ‘I saw this, I remember this’ and the picture became clearer, it was the blue of the flowers of trees growing on the streets of Madeira. I had at all forgotten that I ever had been to Madeira, almost, that Madeira exsists, but by recocnizing the blue dots I remembered the whole thing. When not observing the mind this would happen completely unnoticed or would happen only accidentally. Or an image or feeling would arise and could not be related to anything.

The crux is – yes, one can remember things, but one only remembers ones own percetion, only ones own version of what one experienced. And this is tainted by the defilements predominat in that particular situation. In this case it is tainted by liking and as soon as I remembered the blue flowers of the trees I noticed the wish to travel to Madeira again arising in my mind.

Earlier I said provocingly that our thoughts are as valuable as our farts. That is only true for large parts of the unwholesome thoughts that arise due to our defilements. The only importance they have is that all unwhlesome will sink into this enormous flux of our lifestream conciousness and will be cause for some unwholesome resultant kamma whenever the conditions allow. It is not true for every single thought of loving kindness or compassion, or sympathetic joy or any other parami that we have arising in our minds. Those are valuable, important. These thoughts, when nourished and harboured bear great fruit. They transform us into better people and the make a difference in the world.