|Forest Sangha Newsletter||October 1996|
Going Forth - From The Inside
When I was asked to write a short piece for the newsletter, my immeditate response was, "Fine, OK". But then, when it came to writing it, it wasn't so simple. I began by scribbling quick phrases to chronicle my mind states and thoughts during the period before, during and after the Upasampada ceremony, but somehow it didn't capture the roller-coasting moods of inspiration, exhaustion, tenderness and excitement of the event. So I decided to take a different approach. I would try to explain how it was that a twenty-four year old, Latin American man ends up in Thailand wearing a white skirt, shaving his head and sweeping leaves on dusty monastery paths! But that piece came out contrived and corny. Finally, I decided to write a poem, responding to a friend's question: "But why can't you dance?"... But I wasn't happy with that either.
If I had the skills to describe my love for the teaching of the Four Noble Truths, I would do that.
Words are simply inadequate to describe what it has meant to join and to be a part of the Bhikkhu Sangha. Although there are times when I find myself in a cynical mood or fearful mind state, something in me knows that this is the best thing to be doing with my life. I know, too, that situations and people change - all the disrobings I have seen prove that. So I'm left without a poem, a narrative or an amazing story. If I had the skills to describe my love for the teaching of the Four Noble Truths, I would do that. If I could explain how my teachers and Dhamma friends have helped me, I would write about that, and if I could express my admiration of the Buddha's system of training, I would find a way to express it. Unfortunately, I don't have those skills - and it's OK!
All in all the past two and a half years have brought on things which I could have never imagined. I am left considering the meaning of my Pali name: 'One who feels gratitude'...and I smile.
Daybreak - the swallows are too high
it will not rain today
this moment surpasses suffering -
as aspiration bounds free
innocents I remember once
float away into the light
on four noble winds
threshold of what greater freedom?
finally the dance of unknowing -
observed but not revealed
this perpetual swing
pendulum of ashes in silence
Total thought sensibly adjusting
made cumbersome by formalities of a day
yet the mind allows
that from the heart's deepest root
delight breaks away and bows
surrender levels the warm summer grass
the knee of private prayer
touches the earth
and joy leaps to not knowing...
As the first day of life as a Bhikkhu dawned, I opened a book of haiku by Basho - a gift from a sister for my Upasampada.
Page one read:
In my new robe