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Writing You From Nowhere In Particular

So I’ve been here for two weeks and as yet, been unable to write a single entry about this place or this experience.

Why?

Well, quite frankly, some of it has not been particularly enjoyable. I am at a loss as to how to communicate this well without somehow damaging the name of the particular sect of Buddhists I am living with.

This is certainly a new challenge.

Everyday, I wake up, thinking, today I will be able to write about what I am experiencing..and everyday..I don’t end up writing anything. On the blog anyway.

It’s not like every single aspect of daily life here is terrible-far from it. But there is an awful lot going on here that makes no sense in regards to volunteering here. I also have been allowing myself to get as deep into Buddhism as my poor tiny mind will allow(which isn’t much!) and I have impressions about that as well which are not all favorable.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the only choice I have is to go thru the blog and take out any specifics about the name of the sect of Buddhists and also where exactly I am. Keep a sense of mystery, you know? And free me up so that I can write about what it’s really like, day to day here.

So I’ll be writing you all from…”somewhere in the middle of England”, I suppose!

Tomarrow I am leaving this place, along with everyone else, to head to a big gathering they are having..they call it a festival, but what it actually is a a chance to hear their Spiritual Guide, or Guru.

I am interested in what he has to say, as I have read a few of his books since being here, and they were somewhat interesting. However, the thought of being in a crowd of thousands doesn’t thrill me. I am interested in seeing how the Buddhists are in crowds…will they push and shove? Or will everyone be polite and considerate, even if it means missing the chance to get up close to their Guru?

As accomodation is quite expensive and full anyway, I’m camping. Someone has given me a tent and a sleeping bag, and hopefully I will remember how to put up a tent from a past life. It is supposed to rain the whole time, so having never camped in the rain with hundreds of people I do not know, I am looking forward to the adventure.

In general life here is very ordered, with a set schedule for certain things, and things pretty much stay to that schedule. I’m enjoying the actual work and being able to lend a hand in cleaning up the grounds, which is an awesome task.

What I haven’t neccessary enjoyed are the methods of communication, the seeming lack of social skills, and the management style. Sometimes the way they do things makes me feel small and worried, and that turns into negative thinking.

One thing I have learned form my travels so far is that when you are in a situation that is challenging you, questioning your sense of place or self, I tend to actually discover that I know myself much better than I thought I did. Somehow I always rise to the occassion, even if I don’t want to. But here, I am having trouble with being who I am, which is a generally cheerful, look on the sunny side of life person.

Another thing I am struggling with is Buddhism in general. Buddhists believe in karma-and not some top 40, pick and choose when you want to believe in karma mindset-but, rather, an all pervading, daily, hourly, sense of karma. So the nice part is that they are very nice to bugs, apologizing and praying over one if they kill one by accident(which is all the time)…but the downside is that they believe people are born in to the lives they have, and that some people suffer horribly because it is their karma.

Downside to this point of view? Well, they believe that there is nothing we can do to end human suffering. We can’t give hungry people food, end torture, rescue animals even…because it is that creatures karma to suffer. Well, we can do those things to gain merit, but not to end suffering.

How awful. Particularly for me, because my trip around the world is all about ending suffering, at least on a small scale. But basically my trip makes no sense from the Buddhist point of view, except that I may gather up some merit, which is kind of like brownie points for the next life.If I’ve got enough merit from this life I’m in, I may be able to get a better life in the next life-like I could end up being a lower life form, like a worm, but then in the golden hour, my merit will be measured, and I’ll get to be a nice fat housecat instead.

The result of this belief is that Buddhists believe that the only way to end suffering is to become enlightened beings themselves, which is a somewhat lengthy process of offerings, prostrtations, and meditations, as well as following a series of strict rules for a holy life. So this keeps the focus very inward. (Although I should say that they do pray for world peace and so on, and they do request help for suffering people in their meditations). For them, its all about refining their mind, mind being something kind of specific and obscure at the same time-something that stays with us, from life to life we have(even when reborn as a slug, for example), but this mind isn’t seen.

The mind isn’t like the soul-it’s more of an intellectual concept than anything else.

The only way to get in touch with your mind is to meditate. That’s it. And, to get in touch with your mind for more than a millisecond requires intense concentration and constant practice-and that is even to glimpse it very briefly.

So I’ve been trying out meditation classes and so on when they have been offered. I have yet to see any such mind, but I will tell you that from the few times I have tried to meditate, I can’t believe how many thoughts I have that come out of nowhere and fill up my head! It’s amazing I get anything done at all. Of course, they say it’s like that for anyone, but still-what a shock , all of those random thoughts floating around up there going nowhere.

I’m out of time, have to finish up….

So, I’m off to work in the garden and then today I have to make lunch for everyone.

They asked me what I would need to make lunch and I said, ” Vegetables. Fruits. Thats it.”

And they said, ” Where’s your carb?”

Yes. Where is it? I wasn’t planning on making one, since we have eaten enough carbs here in the last several days to last a lifetime. ( In spite of it being a vegetarian place, it’s a English vegetarian place! Heavy on the dumplings, bread, and so on..) I’ve given in and decided to make baked potatoes.

So thats all the excitement going on here today.

On another subject entirely, looks like I may get a chance to go to P. New Guinea for some volunteering towards the end of the trip. Any thoughts out there on P. New Guinea? I was reading how dangerous it is there, so thoughts of yours would be welcome.

Gigi



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