– Notes written during my stay at the Newbury Buddhist Monastery, Victoria, Australia –
After One Week
8th July 2015
What have I learnt after living in the monastery for one week?
- Our mind wonders so much that we can:
Write our entire future (in our mind)
Re-write our entire past (in our mind)
- This can be done in record time (takes only a few seconds or minutes)
- Then, when something small happens that makes us realize that the “future story” or the “past story” will never or did never happen, we feel sad (as our expectations are not met)
- This sadness shows our attachment to our perceived future or perceived past.
- Let it go, and let it be, is a lot easier said than done (eventhough awareness or understanding is present, to actually do it on every occasion is a practice, that we need to do for long enough until that becomes an “automatic” process.
- I realized that;
I’m attached to doing the “right” defined by my surrounding. (E.g. Obeying rules of the monastery, even when I disagree)
I spend a lot of time thinking about whether it’s the “right” thing.
I’m terrified that I’ll be “told off”, if I mistakenly do the “wrong” thing.
This too is attachment to “perceived future”.
It doesn’t mean, I should do what I want all the time disrespecting others, but if I know that “I don’t know”, then I do NOT know. Worrying about it will NOT give me any “Knowing”. Do what feels “Right”, if it ends up being “Wrong”, say “Sorry” (Not merely a word, but genuine regret, that you were “Wrong”, setting the intention to do it “Right”, make a genuine effort to do it “Right” allowing you to make a “Mistake” again.)
- Most importantly, forgive yourself, if you get it “Wrong”. I am (aware that) I’m kind to people around me, bit extremely unkind to my “self”.
- I can’t help it if someone gets an incorrect view about me; I need to acknowledge that I’m hurt, then let it go, if that view is indeed incorrect.
- If I’m really concerned (often enough to bother my “self”), the afford view probably has an element of truth (which I haven’t learnt yet).
- I’m attached to sharing my findings / revelations / news with the world.
The world may already know it
The world may not want to hear it.
The world may not hear what you want them to hear (as they hear through their own perception, and not exactly what is communicated)
1st January 2018
What happened after?
- I stayed in the monastery initially for a month (I took my first break from the monastery on 1st August 2015)
- I stayed away from the monastery for a week, mainly to see a Psychiatrist (Dr. James Lee bas) on 3rd August 2015.
- I stayed in the monastery again for two more weeks before I returned to Sunshine coast, to close the house I had abandoned, say good bye to friends, etc. This was an interesting journey, which I will write as another post.
- I came back to the monastery, stayed in the monastery on and off for totalling up to about three months, within the space of six months. This too was an interesting journey. I had already decided against being a monk. But the monks saw me as a monk, so there was a (perceived) pressure on my “self”, and my own cultural respect for them, disallowed me to tell them up front. This created a bit of pressure which I didn’t enjoy anymore. I loved all the Monastics and still do.
Āya Upēka – Head Nun
- I love her so much, words cannot explain how much. Not many see her love or her kind heart. She is very empathetic, and always discusses her own “wrongs” and was open to appologise to even a Lay person. She respects the institutional rules, although she doesn’t agree with them. I saw a lot of my own qualities in her. I felt that she was too over it, over being unheard.
- Work master and the only monk who was there to welcome me. I love him a lot. I learnt so much from him while working on construction. He gave me so much Confidence, especially in physical labourous activities. He let me drive the 4WD in the mud going uphill for work matters, even when it was slipping and I was not in control, he says “It’s ok Nim”, and then immediately I knew what to do. I learnt to use the chain saw, spray paint machine, drive a trailor, etc. From him. His main advice was to watch and learn, keep quiet “Just do it” and learn for you. And I did.
Bhanthe Jag – Head Monk
- He was a white boy from Queensland, Australia. That made me immediately be completely comfortable to talk to him about anything. When I couldn’t remain “abrahmachariya” after 3-4 weeks (sexual activity including pleasing one’s self), I was able to discuss with him. We have had many discussions, and he had always given me confidence about my own understanding of Dhamma.
Dale / Later Āya Padma
- Initially an 8 preceptor like myself, but commited to be a Nun, hence titled an “Anagarikā”. She was my friend, my work partner. She was a former championship dancer, so we discussed a bit about ballroom and Latin. She too had the same confusions / rejections of some practices like myself, but she wasn’t keeping quiet about it like me. That doesn’t make me or her any better or worse, but our behaviour around the same belief was different. It was such a comfort to have a friend, who was equal in the “Monastic Social Structure” (perceived), to discuss all my doubts, naughty life (past), future plans, etc, as there was no disrespect (perceived) to the seniority of the monastic. We were both the lowest in the monastery in terms of “Seniority” of monastic life. I love her to bits, and was blessed to be present at her ordination.
- The first Sri Lankan monk I had to meet after my revelations. I observed my own inner conflict of meeting a Sri Lankan monk, and my own judgements. But his teachings and humourous “self” soon burnt all my judgements. He brought a lighter heart to the monastery that Āya didn’t necessarily approve of, but I secretly loved. Life itself seemed light when he was around. But he wasn’t a good handy man. My own perfectionist behaviour always made me re-do what he has already done. This annoyed me and I finally asked extremely politely from Bhanthe Cunda, not to give him any work, I’ll do it myself. Later I realized this was my issue and not his. So I was no longer annoyed. We became good friends and he has stayed over in the guest room of my rented unit in 2017. I love him a lot.
- One falls in love with him just by seeing him. He was an Australian monk who had lived in Sri Lanka for so long, he had a constant head swing when he talked, even when it wasn’t required (even a Sri Lankan wouldn’t do such a head swing, but he did). He had the kindest heart and everyone loved him. He was also obsessed with sweeping leaves that had fallen just like Sri Lankan monks. I loved his teachings and was always happy to see and talk to him.
- She was so nice, but never wanted to talk to me much. Two things interfered, the Vināya rules, and her level of English language. She was a hard worker and I liked her a lot.
- She was only there for the rains period. I was constantly worrying when she used the chain saw as I felt she wasn’t properly holding it. We hardly spoke as she was mostly in a silent retreat, but we’ve all had fun, trying to medicate sick Wombats. They kept on running away from us kind souls and Dale (āya Padma) was in charge of Wombat medications. The Wombat “hunt” to medicate them, to save their life, yet their fear of us was Ironic, not dissimilar to me being labelled “crazy”.
I loved life. I was surrounded by kind and gentle people. But I knew my practice wasn’t there. I needed to learn to be strong around unkind and rough people. That’s when defilements come up.
I met a few more monks and nuns over time, I thank them all for thier valuable teachings. I’m so sorry I can’t remember names.
- Another Sri Lankan monk I met after sometime in the monastery. This was the first monk I revealed all my spiritual secrets to, about my “Crazy episode” from an internal stand point, than external. I liked his teachings, but I felt he was far too attached to traditions, and being respected, etc. But as Bhanthe Cunda had taught me, “just do it”, take what you like, leave what you don’t, you don’t have to argue about it. So I resolved my own ego conflict with Bhanthe Saranakitti and decided to love him and respect him. I was blessed with a lot of teachings.
- Then I started to work at Slater and Gordon Lawyers, one of the most memorable experiences and a company I love dearly.
- This story and lessons will continue. Watch the space.
Leaving you with a memory;
The day Dale became Āya Padma
Me: Bottom row right hand (reader’s) corner.