Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Journey to the South


     Warning: This is a very long one, but relatively easy to read. Greetings from Kusalakari (a small Burmese temple in Fremont, California)!
     I arrived here today---I write this on Friday evening---from Bellingham, Washington after five days on the road with Wayne, a New Age California surfer dude who asserts that he is not New Age. The trip began auspiciously, I think, as on Sunday morning there was a "potluck" celebrated in my honor at the local Dharma Hall. About twelve of my best friends and supporters in town came to see me off, and it turned into the closest facsimile of an Asian Theravada Buddhist religious function that I have participated in in Bellingham thus far: People (in this case, American people) bring food, feed the monk, feed themselves and each other, drink tea, talk a lot, eat a little more, receive the Three Refuges and Five Precepts, hear a short talk and blessing from the monk, and then all go home smiling. Wayne picked me up shortly after the function was over with essentially all of his possessions easily packed into his little car, including a load of organic pumpkins and squash to give out as gifts. He was leaving the Pacific Northwest partly because it provides inadequate surfing, and partly because no beautiful woman begged him to stay. My few bags went in too, and we left Bellingham in a grey drizzle.
     Wayne was a little concerned about the timing of our departure, as people knowledgeable in astrology informed him that Mercury is retrograde, potentially causing troubles on our way. I assured him that the backwards motions of the planet were likely to be in our favor, which prognostication he appeared to appreciate. As far as I can tell my prophesy was a true one. My track record as a prophet is actually pretty good.
     We spent some time in Seattle dropping off some organic produce at the home of one of Wayne's many friends, and then searched in vain for some special charcoal powder that Wayne especially coveted. We spent our first night on the road at an international hostel in Portland, Oregon. It was my first experience in a hostel, and it provided me with opportunities to be patient with the loud snoring of some of my roommates, and also with the surreal, semiconscious mutterings of the fellow in the bunk below me. The next morning we ate some of Wayne's produce and some buttered bread and continued on our way in pouring rain. Intermittently throughout that day and the next rain poured down on the world in driving sheets, swelling the rivers to brown rapids, flooding fields and roads, and creating many waterfalls along the highway, some of them really spectacular. It seemed to me that the rain was a kind of symbolic purification as we both transitioned into another chapter of our lives. Wayne seemed to take some comfort from my interpretation of the situation, but still disliked the intense concentration required to keep us on the road, especially when passing trucks would practically blind us with spray. 
     Our second night was spent at a communal organic permaculture farm in southern Oregon, where Wayne had received an invitation. The power was out as a result of storm winds accompanying the torrential rain; and we met with a community of folk who struck me as advanced-level lost souls and misfits---so we fit in pretty well. It was a 21st century version of a hippy commune, with plenty of long hair, beards, dreadlocks, and organic food. Some of the inhabitants struck me as people who, if they owned little more than a guitar and needed a new coat and a new pair of boots, and suddenly found themselves in possession of 500 dollars, would without hesitation spend it on a weekend of ayahuasca ceremonies. The big excitement when we got there, aside from the power blackout, was that a young woman's gallon jug of fermenting kefir had burst due to insufficient ventilation of the contents, resulting in pressure adequate to create a grenade-like explosion sending fragments of glass and gobs of kefir throughout the sitting room of the lodge. I slept alone that night, as Wayne had been invited to share a bed with one of the prettiest farmers---although it turned out all she had in mind was some warm, friendly snuggling for the night. Perhaps my karma as a monk helped to keep things tame.
     Throughout our trip most of Wayne's friends would greet me as though I were a layperson, the women usually extending a hand for a handshake or even offering a hug, requiring me to decline the offer with silent embarrassment or apologetically to explain that it's against the rules for a monk to touch girls, which was usually accepted graciously by the girls. In a non-Buddhist subculture where everyone hugs everyone, a strangely dressed man who declines physical contact with women may be viewed by them with suspicion or disfavor. It is a complication sometimes. 
     Wayne would contribute to the casual attitude toward the presence of a monk by occasionally calling me "Home Slice," the exact derivation of which term I cannot ascertain. He has never particularly liked the idea of serving me food in the morning either (Theravada monks are not allowed to serve themselves with food, but may only eat what is physically given to them), but desired my company on the trip sufficiently to overcome his distaste for it; although I hasten to add that he provided me with the requisites of life, not to mention transportation and good company, very graciously and generously. There was one fellow at the farm, however, who was fascinated by the fact that I was a Buddhist monastic, and asked many serious questions. It turned out that he was studying Buddhism and aspired to move into a monastic community, perhaps as an unordained yogi. I must admit that occasionally meeting someone appreciative and respectful of the robes I wear feels good. A monk should consider praise and blame the same, but the feelings evoked by these two opposite lokadhamma, or ways of the world, still do not feel the same for me. I can, and do, accept both, however.
     The next morning, after a communal meal of baked granola and homemade hazelnut milk we left the farm in a downpour. We made a long detour back to Eugene so that Wayne could purchase some pants made of organic hemp. They were rather expensive and required the burning of a fair amount of petroleum to obtain them, but Wayne considered it to be for the sake of Mother Earth. It is interesting to see how we select our own ways of saving the world.
     By early afternoon we were in northern California. The rain subsided around the same time that we entered the Golden State, which Wayne and I accepted as auspicious. We spent the night in the town of Arcata, where, Wayne assured me, practically everybody smokes cannabis even if they don't grow it. In fact I saw several people in the area smoking joints in town in broad daylight.
     Our night's lodging was at the home of a very sweet and hospitable lady named Lezlie, another member of Wayne's multitude of friends. As often happened, the conversation revolved almost entirely around catching up on people I do not know, so I spent much of the social encounter sitting in silence. Fortunately on this occasion a little dog named Eloise, a schnoodle (schnauzer+poodle=schnoodle), also had little to add to the conversation and approached me for some prolonged petting; and seeing that this venture went well, she eventually brought me a tennis ball to throw for her. She caught the ball again and again with great enthusiasm, and we connected better than I was able to do with most of the humans I met on the trip. The next morning when I was meditating she entered my room and nuzzled me for another round of bonding. Eloise remains one of the highlights of the whole trip. Petting a female dog is a minor infraction for a Theravada Buddhist monk, but I have no significant regrets. My affection for her was and is purely platonic. I'll make confession for it tomorrow. Before taking leave of our hostess, Wayne gave her a detailed complimentary Tarot card reading (he reads cards professionally), and she took many notes. Lezlie unexpectedly hugged me goodbye, and I didn't hug back; I explained the situation about monks, girls, and rules of discipline, and she accepted the explanation with gracious good humor.

A Schnoodle Like Eloise

     I may as well mention that our evening in Arcata was the first time since we began that I saw a relatively clear sky. The stars were very bright with the atmosphere washed clean of particulate matter, and Jupiter was blazing beautifully way up high, all of which I considered to be a good sign on our journey. I may as well also mention that Theravada Buddhist monks are not supposed to pay much attention to signs and omens, but seeing Jupiter and the Pleiades burning bright in the sky after days of torrential rain seemed very much like an auspicious indication to me. Seeing the Pleiades and remembering the orbits Wayne revolves in, I asked him if he had heard of the Pleiadian High Council, a group of extraterrestrials who allegedly are communicating with some New Age people nowadays. I admit I was a little glad when he answered that he gave little heed to Pleiadians. As an aside, it seems to me that the Pleiades are a somewhat unhappy choice for the abode of a stellar race, as the astronomers claim that this star cluster is relatively new, being only about ten million years old. Consequently it would seem unlikely that there would have been time for an intelligent race to have arisen there. At a mere ten million years of age, our Earth was still a ball of molten lava with a poisonous atmosphere, or so say the scientists. But I suppose the Pleiadians could have moved there from elsewhere, or perhaps they are nonphysical and do not require an environment suitable for organic life. Maybe I just think too much.

The Pleiades, Alleged Home of the High Council

     Our next evening was spent in Marin county as the guests of a dedicated practitioner of Hatha Yoga and massage therapist, trained at the Esalen Institute. He was drawn to the idea of simplifying his life to expedite spiritual freedom, and had been experimenting with living in a small car. Fortunately for us he was house-sitting in a rather palatial house in a rather palatial neighborhood at the time of our visit. Our host was much more interested and enthusiastic about meeting a monk than most, and graciously made many efforts to include me in the conversation, which, however, often tended back toward the standard discussions of people I do not know. He is a reverent devotee of a local Yoga instructor who he admittedly doesn't want to know very well for fear of finding out something not respectable about him. He was well versed in Yoga, Ayurveda, and a number of other esoteric sciences, and at one point Wayne asked him in all seriousness if it is true what he had heard, that impure energies leave the body primarily through the feet. That one question has strangely lingered in my memory.
     I must admit that by this stage in the trip I was growing somewhat fatigued with extremely liberal thinkers, so to speak. I may write a separate blog post on this matter, but for now I will say that it is sometimes frustrating to me to interact with people who require no real evidence, much less facts or actual proof, to support a vehement belief. All that is necessary for many is for an idea to feel true. Consequently, it seems to me that many followers of the New Age have several belief systems which are not well integrated, and in some cases may be downright mutually contradictory. I am more hardheaded, and prefer a well integrated system with parts added to it as mere hypotheses, or after sufficient evidence is manifested to support the idea---although like any unenlightened person I often take beliefs for granted as Truth, often leading to unhappiness when those beliefs are challenged. One disadvantage of being a hardhead is that we tend to be more rigid. 
     One other peculiarity of the New Age that is remarkable to me is that although its followers may be very cosmic and "woo-woo" with regard to many things, with regard to one topic in particular they may be hardheaded, soulless materialists; and that topic is Food. They may believe in channeled spirits and the healing energies of mantra, etc., but they have no doubts whatsoever that such and such foods have such and such chemicals which are good for you in such and such a way, or bad for you in such. All that is necessary is for a food theory to be popular, and it becomes gospel truth until some other theory eclipses it. Once when our host asked about my health I answered that it is good except for a slight tendency toward gout. When my listeners made it known that they didn't know what exactly gout was, I explained that it is, according to medical science, a hereditary disorder which causes one to be less able to metabolize foods containing high amounts of RNA, such as sprouts and organ meats, thereby resulting in crystals of uric acid accumulating in the joints of the feet, causing painful inflammation. My good friend Wayne then heatedly denied this, saying that it was caused, like so many other disorders are caused, mainly by eating processed sugar. He denounced medical science and my own testimony that I had had attacks of gout even when living in remote areas of Burma where processed sugar is scarce, insisting that eating sugar is the true cause of gout. Wayne really is a great guy though, and he eventually cooled down enough to acknowledge that he wasn't sure. He is my benefactor and friend, and I do not wish to speak ill of him. (Wayne, if you read this you are welcome to comment, supporting your own case. Have mercy!) I'm not entirely sure about uric acid crystals either. I can't remember ever seeing one.
     On second thought, New Age in general, like Yoga, Ayurveda, and even orthodox Theravada, is a materialistic system in that it posits the ultimate reality of physical matter. This is an issue that causes me some occasional frustration, as pretty much everyone is likewise a materialist. If I try to point out that the existence of physical matter can't really be proven, and thus should be acknowledged as a hypothesis at best, I am often accused of insisting that matter doesn't exist at all and am bombarded with logically inconclusive rebuttals similar to Samuel Johnson's famous rebuttal of the Immaterialism of George Berkeley: He kicked a rock and said, "I refute him thus." But one could act likewise in a dream, with no real rock and no real swinging foot. There's no way to know for sure.
     Another deep philosophical issue that arose more than once during our trip, sometimes with a few sparks, is the question of spiritual progress occurring via purification of oneself, or via detachment from "oneself." The New Agers, as well as Westerners in general, tend to accept as axiomatic the idea of self, in fact are very subjective and "Me" oriented, and so liberation, if it is in the picture at all, is assumed to occur through somehow straightening out the issues of this self. The idea that the issues are only perceptions which are not the self at all is neglected or else casually (or sometimes heatedly) denied. But I could write another blog post on this one subject. I am a little sorry that so many people are just plain mystified by the notion of No Self, or even by the Upanishadic notion that the only true Self is essentially God, and needs no purification. Spiritual practice is more a matter of conscious disidentification, not purification or liberation of the identity, which ultimately is an illusion. Or so it seems to me. But enough of this for today.
     To make a long story even longer, we arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area on Thanksgiving Day, and visited with several alumni of the Esalen Institute who are Wayne's friends. (Wayne also was once on the staff, although not the teaching staff, of Esalen.) Many of them were old hippies who were refreshingly more hardheaded than the younger ones I had met earlier---maybe they were just more set in their ways, but they seemed to have more intellectual stability, so to speak. We eventually arrived at the bright, spacious home of an old hippy who currently works for a large petrochemical company. There were several guests at the Thanksgiving feast, most of them staff members or former staff members of Esalen. At 49 years old I figure I was possibly the youngest person there. Seemingly by way of contrast, one guest was not only not an Esalenite, but harbored a self-proclaimed cynicism and "antipathy" for the place. I've never been there, but guess that my feelings would be mixed.
     Everyone was requested to say Grace before dinner, so when it was my turn I simply recited a saying of Neem Karoli Baba: "God comes to the hungry in the form of food," then moments later regretted that I hadn't mentioned a word of thanks at Thanksgiving. It is against the rules of monastic discipline for a monk to eat dinner, so I sat at the table talking and drinking grape juice from fancy stemware. Hunger is not a major problem for me, and I enjoy watching others enjoy a meal; it's rather like eating with somebody else's mouth. In Buddhism such a mental state is called mudita.
     After dinner there was a lot of singing, which is also against the rules for monks, so I kept my mouth shut and listened attentively. However, when they sang "Nowhere Man" by the Beatles I mouthed the words and even vocalized a little, relating afterward that one day long ago, when I was still an unordained monastery attendant, I was washing dishes in the kitchen building thinking up a Beatles song to be the theme for each person at the monastery, and I had chosen "Nowhere Man" as my own…with the humble ambition of someday being worthy of "Come Together." Whether I am yet worthy of it I still can't say.

He's a Real Nowhere Man,
Sitting in His Nowhere Land,
Making All His Nowhere Plans for Nobody...

     Eventually all of the guests except Wayne and me went away into the night, and we sat in the living room with the couple who were our hosts. Somehow the topic of Tarot cards came up, and I mentioned that I had written an article mentioning them, comparing the principle of how they work with the Buddhist theory of karma. (Anyone interested may find the article, entitled "On Tarot Cards, Ouija Boards, Astrology, Spirit Mediums, and Spiritual Teachers," on the website nippapanca.org.) The lady of the house, who had spoken little to me over the course of the evening, began raising objections to my interpretation of the case, asking why I was so much against Tarot cards, etc., which I really was not, and told her as much. Then, still in a mood of intent disapproval (but not really angry), she began asking what right I have to be a monk living on the generosity of others. One tack she employed was that the Burmese are very poor and cannot afford to support the likes of me, although I assured her that the Burmese have plenty of food, and when a monk goes for alms in a village each person who wants to offer food usually offers a relatively small amount. Then I added that the Burmese are generally very happy to offer food to monks. She replied that this is only because they had been "brainwashed" into believing that monks are superior to them, but that everybody is equally living a spiritual life. She backed up the brainwashing theory by saying that if I went to the highlands of New Guinea, nobody there would be inspired to put food in my bowl, but might simply eat me instead---and thus giving alms to monks is purely arbitrary and geographical. 
     By this time I was sitting straight up on my seat, wide awake, engaging in a kind of verbal Aikido, endeavoring to add no new energy, especially negative energy, to the interaction, and using the imbalances of her own position as a way of peacefully deflecting her thrusts. I was in an especially awkward position as I suddenly found myself evidently a not very welcome guest in her home. Anger or disdain were simply not viable options. My heartbeat was noticeably beating faster in my chest.
     I finally wore out the argument that I was essentially a "performance artist" parasitically exploiting the superstition of ignorant Burmese Buddhists by pointing out that I hadn't been supported by Burmese people in many months, that many of my current supporters aren't even Buddhists, and that they support me largely because they feel that they are benefitted by having me around. Fortunately, Wayne also defended me somewhat by humorously remarking on her lovely manners. (Wayne and I are fellow surfer dudes, although I am more a surfer of consciousness than of water.) The intensity lasted about ten minutes before the subject was changed, and the lady's aggressiveness, or whatever it was, had abated.
     Such an attitude as my hostess had is really not very rare here in America; even some people who consider themselves Buddhists have a similar negative attitude toward monastic renunciation---the so-called "Holy Life"---conveniently forgetting that the Buddha himself was a renunciant who lived on alms, and that he, presumably a very wise person, had set up the Sangha of monks probably for very good reasons, not just because he was culture-bound and didn't know any better. People in the West are just as brainwashed in their own way as are the Burmese; and they often live less spiritually oriented lives, and often are more unhappy. I of course bear no ill will toward the lady whose house I stayed in Thanksgiving night, and am grateful for the lovely evening and the breakfast of deluxe leftovers gladly served by her man the next morning, as well as the luxurious shelter and her patience with a house guest that she did not personally invite and did not feel very comfortable with. May she---and all of us!---be well, happy, and surrounded by blessings and love. If that is at all possible.
     On Friday morning (the last day of our journey, which was yesterday; it is now Saturday afternoon as I type) after a belly-filling breakfast and plenty of cheerful conversation with the gentleman of the house, Wayne and I continued on our way. By this time our radically different perspectives on life had resulted in a moderate amount of "triggering" between us, and I suspect Wayne was not entirely sorry to drop me off at this Burmese temple. (His friend the Yogi of Esalen had said we were like the Odd Couple…) A couple of times at least I had given good Wayne some probing, unsolicited, and unwelcome feedback, but I have found since my return to the West that triggers are blessings, as they show us where we are still stuck. Despite the occasional heat (emotional, not climatic), I am grateful for our trip south together, and am sorry that I may never see my friend again. (Wayne, if you are reading this, I apologize for getting on your case, and for any time I've been an inconvenience, or damn nuisance, to you. Bless you again and again, and may the gods continue to smile upon you.)
     On our last leg to the monastery I mentioned to Wayne that a mutual dear friend of ours told me recently that she needs to "get right" with herself. Wayne observed, and I think wisely, that if she isn't right with herself now, then it implies that she is somehow wrong; and considering oneself to be wrong in the present moment is not so good. The present moment is really all we have. If we don't have rightness now…It returns to the question of whether or not everything and everybody is already perfect. We may have been dealt a cool hand, so to speak, but we are dealt exactly what we need to wake us up, and that is perfect---or so it seems to me. Wanting things to be different than they are, is suffering. (It may be perfect suffering, but it's still suffering.) I hope my dear friend is not bothered by these observations. I know she has her own views on the subject which are just as valid as mine.
     I arrived here at the temple around 3:00pm on Friday, and it was really nice to see that the assistant abbot here, venerable Garudhamma, appeared really glad to see me. On the other hand, I felt a little uneasiness in an environment that I have slowly drifted away from over a period of many years. I am presently typing this in my quarters, the congregation hall in the back yard, sitting on the floor.
     I'm not finished yet, so kindly sit still… :-) This morning I was informed that two or three men would be ordained as temporary monks today, in accordance with Burmese custom (almost every Burmese Buddhist male is ordained temporarily at least once; the same is true in Thailand). Two men were ordained, one of them a Euro-American; the third fellow, a man named Abdul, didn't show. When I saw the young American man at the monastery I guessed that he was doing this in order to please a pretty Burmese girlfriend, and it turned out that my guess was correct. However, he is also very interested in spiritual matters and seems genuinely enthusiastic about being a fully ordained monk for a total of three days.
     When the two were receiving the preliminary "lesser orders" as novices I felt a pang of nostalgia and sadness when, in accordance with ancient custom, the men asked venerable Garudhamma to have compassion for them and allow them to wear the monk robes so that they could find a way out of all suffering. I remembered my own early days in the Sangha, how idealistic and starry-eyed I was; and I also knew that there was real truth in what the men were reciting. The Sangha truly is a refuge.
     Shortly after the upasampadā (full ordination) ceremony began, venerable Garudhamma informed me that I would be the preceptor of the two new monks---in other words, I would be ordaining them! In my 22 years as a monk this is the first time I have ordained anybody. It is a little ironic that finally I ordain new monks, but they are to wear the robes for a total of three days, and I didn't even have the fun of naming them. The American man was named Vimala, or "Stainless," and his Burmese friend received the name Jotika, or "Illuminator." When I was told that I would officiate as preceptor my first reaction was to say "aung malay!" which roughly translates into English as "Oh little mother!"
     The situation is a little more ironic because I acted as preceptor to these monks just hours before requesting and taking upon myself formal ecclesiastical penance for breaking certain rules during my residence in Bellingham. One of the observances of a monk taking this penance is that he's not allowed to ordain anybody. It seems that the Universe required a young American man to be ordained by a middle-aged American man (me), so life fell into place just so. Such things happen all the time. 
     In the past I would have refused to ordain temporary monks, as they don't have the time to learn how a monk should conduct himself, and they usually have money saved somewhere, which is strictly forbidden for monks. A person should give away all his money before becoming a monk, but the temporaries are understandably reluctant to do this. Also, a monk should not be ordained if he is in debt, and it seems that everyone in America is in some kind of debt, even if it is only the outstanding balance of their credit card account. Also, Burmese ordination is a bit sloppy in my opinion. For example, for the sake of ease and convenience both men were called Nāga in the ordination ceremony today, and I was called Tissa. One senior monk talked on the phone during the proceedings, which is not exactly against the rules, but displays the casual attitude toward what should be, but often is not, a sacred moment. I'm pretty easygoing nowadays, and am a thankful guest here, so I went along with whatever the Burmese monks preferred instead of making difficulties as I might have done ten years ago. 
     About an hour ago I met one of the Burmese men who was an important friend and supporter when I was here last winter. He said he has been diagnosed with diabetes and is ill and depressed. After my time in America with a liberal non-Buddhist crowd I repeatedly felt a very unmonklike urge arising in me---I kept wanting to hug him. What better could one do in such a situation? May the Universe have mercy on all of us.
     
      
        
Wayne, in Surfer Dude Glory














11 comments:

  1. the liberty one takes here astounds me, and.... a fine recounting of things, at least from your vantage point.... happy trails my friend,

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  2. I would like to apologize to Nuno Castro because for some reason I don't understand your comment didn't publish. I clicked on the Publish button and...nothing. Sorry.

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    1. Thank you for your concern, David. Although, the comment was indeed published on the blog entry that it was written on ("Is Infinity Too Much?"). Just wanted to share the experiences with you anyways, published or not. Sharing meditative experiences might be somewhat helpful if taken up for contemplation\self-reflection and not very analytically.

      Metta!


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    2. Ah, mystery solved. I didn't notice that it was on a different post. -_-

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  3. Fun trip :-) hearing about the New Age, health oriented people and places is great, such a long shot from Myanmar life. i miss parts of that life, it is true. I guess health oriented is not the right way to put it, because people everywhere aim for health. but the new agey way around food and yoga is so unique. everythings gotta have kale in it, or organic written on it.

    can monks sit in hand made stone hottubs on a cliff overlooking the pacific? cause if you just do that, there's not much to complain about with Esalen :-P (besides spiritual materialism eliteness money making madness)

    I can imagine you very clearly sitting in the congregation room in fresno! do you have the heater turned on still?!

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    1. Sometimes I defend myself against the onslaught of kale by pointing out that it (and chard too, we mustn't forget chard) is laced with deadly oxalic acid, the same toxic chemical that makes rhubarb leaves poisonous. It's not against the rules for monks to sit in scenic hot tubs. I'm pretty sure that technically it's even allowable naked. And yeah, I have the heater on.

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  4. It's interesting how some beliefs, even rather untenuous ones, tend to stick with us. I will quickly dismiss the beliefs of people who I consider 'New Agey,' but if a similar belief is extolled by a member of an exotic culture as part of some folk tradition, I'll be much more considerate. It's not rational, and perhaps seeing ourselves as perfectly rational in this regard is an improper self-view.

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  5. Ola, my friend,

    What it must be like to be able to remember so much about a trip...not me. I'll be updating my blog in a day or two and just hope I can remember enough of an outline to make it reasonably enjoyable to read.

    In any case, I left the Bay area on Thanksgiving. Had I known you were in town, I would've swung by to give thanks. However, I had a "date" with my ex-step-son at Esalen. I spent all of Sunday there. I enjoyed the heck out of it, and the baths (nude) were especially nice. I've noticed that it is sometimes difficult to tell if not being ordained is a hindrance or a help. Johnny and I have been talking quite a bit about some of what you've addressed here.

    One thing I've discovered about cause of the American idea of "living off of the generosity of others" that rubs people against the nap of the fur is that we are trained from birth that community is bad for business. The more isolated we feel, the more commerce will be done. If I help out a stranger with shelter just because I feel he or she is a part of the human race, then that takes money from the hotel owners. And if I feed someone from my garden, then that takes money from the restaurant owners. So, in a way, to live in community is un-American. We can't grow the economy (which is the benchmark for the insanity level of a country) if we are helping others.

    I am about to make a Youtube video asking for help with my bridge, which just broke the day before yesterday. It may not result in anything, but as you pointed out, the Universe seems to present us with inexplicable synchronicity.

    Time for sleep. Om Shanti, Bhakti.

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    1. For those who are interested, Kai's blog is entitled "The Fine Art of Living on a Motorcycle," and is about doing the spiritual Homeless Wanderer thing on two wheels, in addition to two feet. It may be found at http://yogikai.blogspot.com. It's one of the only blogs I read regularly.

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