Monday, March 29, 2010

all alone

today I went on pindabt alone. Ajaan and the assistant had an invitation and the 2 little monks didn't show up. Someone tried to convince me not to go, I could eat at the temple, he said, its dangerous alone.
These Thais ... being alone or doing something alone is scaring them. I have enough fears left, some popped up these days, but walking through the Streets of L.A. with an almsbowl is not among them. So I went and received one of the best salads I ever had in life, two veggie meals, a burger, some water, juices and some deserts.
On the way someone yelled something out of a truck, just in a moment when I was not mindful but watching aside at a beautiful rose. He did that earlier, so I was collared in unmindfulness but not too shocked. Two men, a Mexican and an American greeted after staring at me while I was approaching. The first with a nod after he noticed that I saw him without looking straight at him, and the latter with a kind of respectful sounding "good morning, mam".
After overcoming their first irritation that I come all alone the people of the restaurant brought me a tea. Usually we arrive with 3 monks, one nun, 2 attendants and a bunch of laypeople who come to offer food. I unpacked what I received before on the street and mixed it in my bowl, then a waitress brought some really good fried rice with vegetables. They wanted to sneak away because they weren't sure if I can give a blessing, when I said in Thai that I will give the blessing now they all rushed back and kneeled down. One cook I've never seen there before was so pleased, she ran into the kitchen and came back with a pack of blue berries.
After the meal one came and wanted to wash my bowl which I accepted and one wanted to drive me back, which I did not accept, they have their work. It was nice walking back, one woman saw me coming from far and looked at me, I smiled at her, she stuttered: "oh, you, oh you ... what, you ..." and then burst out: "you don't have shoes." She was very excited, and laughed, "no, I don't wear shoes" shortly I thought of giving her an discourse of what it means to go on alms round, but she was not really receptive. Next time.
Half way back someone I know from the temple came and took me back.

another temple

Last post was written some days ago, many things happened since then.
We went to another Thai Temple in L.A. area on satureday. A laywomen arranged the trip with ajaan for me, she told me to bring my bowl.
I was not quite sure if I would be able to make use of my alms bowl there. The Temple was very nice, a peaceful atmosphere a nice warm spring breeze. We went to greet the abbot. Later I learned that it was the abbot’s birthday … He had no voice, allergie but they talked a bit a he spyed over to where I was sitting and at one point asked something in Thai, while my brain was working to figure out what was said and to find an adequate answer, a layman said, “she doesn’t speak Thai” I confirmed in Thai, that I don’t speak and was soon out of focus.
The laywomen spoke with the Mae Chiis to make sure that I will have a place to sit and receive food. They even have some Mae Chiis at that Temple. I was guided inside the hall where the monk’s seats were prepared on a platform and the Mae Chii’s seats on the floor and asked to put my bowl there. I sat down and meditated while 4 monks were receiving offerings from incoming people. One must have been the abbot according to the rasping sound of the voice. Someone came and gave a little bowl of rice, I opened my alms bowl and the person put the rice in it with a strange glance on her face. I continued meditating.
Two Mae Chiis came and sat beside me, I greeted, they smiled. When I closed my eyes again the Mae Chii next to me began to speek: “ You need a bowl of rice to offer it to the monks” “ No, I don’t offer, I receive.” All words whispered but with a slight panic in her voice she asked: You don’t offer???” “No, I receive, I have an almsbowl” and pointed at it, “I cannot offer and receive at the same time, that’s not proper. I go pindabat.” Her eyes spoke of anger, condemnation but she remained silent and I slowly closed my eyes, yet noticing a man approaching with some rice and her almost unnoticeable headshaking, the man went off. I knew the abbot had watched us.
Monks came in and took place on the platform in order of seniority. One monk brought me a little bowlstand, a tiny table to place the bowl on. The hall had filled with people in the meantime. A laypreacher was commenting the ongoings in the room. There’s no ceremony without such a laypreacher and they always repeat what just was said or tell what is going on. This one said today a Mae Chii is going on almsround, Oh!
The monks got up and started to put their robes in order, the abbot invited me to join in to the line with a gesture of his hand. One monk, the last in the row before me had trouble putting his robes, the abbot said “hurry up”, I arranged my robe (or better said: robe sized blanket, it has no pattern) with two quick movements as if I were an old routine monk, while the poor monk still was fighting with the huge piece of cloth. I was waiting behind the poor one who had now full attention and was asked to spped up for a second time. When I passed the Mae Chii who had been angry of my behavior, she smiled with honest respect and joy. People were lined up outside the hall and we passed them, they could put their little contribution of rice in our bowls, I heard a lot of ‘sadhu’s’ and felt completely accepted and kind of honored.
Back in the hall the people brought many many plates full of excellent food. The 2 laywomen who had come with us were in front of me offering me the food and gave it to the next nun. Then we chanted a blessing and started to eat. TV was turned on with a Karaoke Ceremony and all laypeople chanted while we were scooping.
Later I met Richard who cannot ordain as monk, because he is not through with women. The result of Phalanyani's reflection: I'm not through with men, either - but through with sexual desire as it seems, so I can be a nun. :o) ‘Being Through’ with the object of desire is not the way, but being through with sensual desire might work out.
May we never be 'through' with anybody, no matter what gender, may we be full of love and compassion for every being.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


>> “There are these ten things that a person gone-forth should reflect on often. Which ten?”
'I have become casteless': a person gone forth should often reflect on this.
'My life is dependent on others'...
'My behavior should be different [from that of householders]'...
'Can I fault myself with regard to my virtue?'...
'Can my knowledgeable fellows in the holy life, on close examination, fault me with regard to my virtue?'...
'I will grow different, separate from all that is dear & appealing to me'...
'I am the owner of my actions (kamma), heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir'...
'What am I becoming as the days & nights fly past?'...
'Do I delight in an empty dwelling?'...
'Have I attained a superior human attainment, a truly noble distinction of knowledge & vision, such that -- when my fellows in the holy life question me in the last days of my life -- I won't feel abashed?': a person gone forth should often reflect on this.
These are the ten things that a person gone-forth should reflect on often.

The conditions here could almost be called perfect. The Ajaan has enough support, devoted Thai people with faith, ready to help him in every situation.
As monastics we live in dependence from laypeople who, out of faith, are willing to support us. In Thailand I was well enough supported from the monastery.
Here I have a room and more than enough to eat and twice I was asked if I need anything. Nothing to complain about, really not .
The Ajaan has his business, running the course, planning the center and has enough people to help him. Which gives me time to reflect on arising feelings of being useless, not helpful, not wanted, feeble and vulnerable, … depending. If Ajaan would not be here, I would probably not be able to go on alms round and I doubt that I would get anything to eat.
It is, in a way, good that he lets me on my own, or does not treat me different from the others, otherwise they would, as happened before, become jealous. They would support me because of him, without ever finding out by themselves if they have faith enough in me to support me. Three of the women at least have that faith.
I do not to get involved with the monks. All I do is smile friendly and greet with palms together. One seeks the conversation and calls me friend, one greets back with palms together and the two young monks who go on alms round with us show some hidden signs of respect when we meet. By and large it is better not to have more contact with them.
So where is the problem, why does fear and insecurity arise?
Last night I dreamt of “my dog”. It had come with me and other people into a big building with many levels like a labyrinth, we were seeking the exit. We finally found one. Out I noticed that the dog wasn’t with me so I run back half the way we came, when I heard it howling and screaming, when it saw me it came running and with me it freaked out of joy and peed of fear. I woke up sweating.
The prospect to ordain soon frightens. Do I feel uncomfortable being dependent from monks and laypeople in a country where giving donation to a reclusive is uncommon? YES! How much more will I feel so when ordained as Bhikkhuni? Now it’s a game to keep the 311 rules and when I fail I can say “oh, doesn’t matter so much, I’m only Mae Chii”. But when I’m ordained it does matter and the circumstances will not be different from now, they will be as life is, uncertain, subject to impermanence.
The Ajahn in Thailand asked me once “are you ready to die”. No, I am not.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The 8 Garudhammas

Yesterday I spoke with the head of the meditation center, trying to find out if I can stay at Wat Thai when ordained as Bhikkhuni. He's not talking much to me, one might have the impression that I'm not welcome. But somehow I feel this is not the case.
It seems possible to stay and it seems to make no difference if I ordain now with someone else or in one and a half year with him. As he is my preceptor I feel I should consult him in this question and I would wait if that for any reason would be better. I'm fuzzy about that, as I said earlier (did I?), I would like to have a preceptor who keeps more rules and better than I do, he does.
The longest answer to one of the questions I had was: "But you have to keep the rules, even the garudhammas". I was not sharp and quick enough to ask if he kept all rules from the very beginning perfectly (he once told me he grew into it.)
I don't know if I can keep them all always 100%, sometimes keeping a small rule might cause death and breaking it would save live. I can't guarantee that I would choose death then, I'm not an Arahant. None of the monks and nuns I know would (not sure about my preceptor.
There are some stories about Arahants: one died, bound with grass by some bandits, he burnt in a fire because he didn't want to hurt the grass. Another was robbed, all robes were taken he lied on the floor naked, bound with grass, too. When the king passed the way he was in deadly danger just by being naked within sight of the king, but he refused to hurt the grass by just jumping out of the way. I would jump off, I guess. Is that a reason not to ordain? (That monk did not only survive but became the kings counselor, to finish the story.)
No one, except my preceptor, is NOT touching money, in contrary, I was advised by Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis not to be too fuzzy with this rule.
The list of broken rules is as long as the patimokkha is, so I will not continue here.
This can be said, as a Mae Chii I keep more patimokkha rules than as those who should keep them. (This was said by a Bhikkhuni, not me)
As for the 8 Garudhammas:
They are, if taken as kind of sanctionary system to keep women dependent and obedeiant, against the law of the USA, Canada and Europe because they are discriminating women. Monks living in a western country who oppress nuns to keep these rules must be aware of the fact that they act against the law. Other would it be if these rules were ment by the monks to help the nuns, then they were legal. In Australia the monks took themselves 8 Garudhammas which I try to find and copy into the blog later.
There is no proof that the Garudhammas were laid down by the Buddha himself, latest researches show that they are a later addition, as I heard. The whole story of Mahapajapati seems to be rewritten or changed later. Having unshakable faith in the Lord Buddha’s teaching I fully trust that this is not his teaching. The Buddha has foreseen the Quantum- and the Chaos theory, why should he have been so completely wrong in dating the downfall of his teaching after 1000 or 500 years, he stated it otherwise in other occasions.
Others say the 8 Garudhammas only were meant for Mahapajapati, the first Bhikkhuni and Buddha’s fostermother. She was ordained by accepting them. The 500 women that came with her to ask the Buddha for ordination received a normal ordination by monks, as a Story of the Dhammapada shows. Makes sense.
Buddha said rules can be changed or been given up after his death, so why not ... no, let’s take it as given, they are there, let’s imagine the Garudhammas were valid: if monks want that they are kept, hey, why not! Try to see them with the eyes of the fully enlightened one, monks, with all love, compassion and wisdom possible.
1. To greet the monks. I am friendly, I do not only great monks, I great all people and I like it.
After being among Thai monks I know, without this Garudhamma Bhikkhunis would certainly have to prostrate with 5 points to the ground at meeting a Bhikkhu, as the Mae Chiis and lay people have to do. Asian women would not be able to withstand such a monk’s order. Nowadays Bhikkhus are more bothered then pleased when they are greeted always, they said, they don't like it. And: Monks who are not respectable must not be greeted, I know very few respectable monks.
2.Yes, spend the rains, where a monk is near, ... today's world is small, to get the info because of which this rule is stated would be possible via internet, but this rule is part of the patimokkha, anyway, so nothing extra.
3. Asking the monks for the uposatha day and for exhortation (ovada, vada means = pleasant speach) it is rather likely that the monks would forget their appointment or would not like come for to meet the Bhikkhunis if the latter would not remind them to do so.
4. The next one is as well a patimokkha rule, to invite the monks for the pavarana, yep, I took part in one, a nice ceremony with good food and lots of donations - no further comment.
5. This is difficult because nobody can translate manattna, so we don't know what is to be observed, one of the speculation is: if these rules are not kept there will be a penalty for 2 weeks. But who knows ...
6. To train the 6 rules for 2 years and ask both sanghas for ordination, yes, yes, I'm almost done. This makes sense because a Bhikkhuni has to stay with her preceptor 2 more years after ordaining. Monks stay with their preceptor 5 years.
7. Not insult or revile a monk … yes, that’s hard to accept ;o)
8. Not critizise (or in other translations admonish) a monk ... men hardly can take critics, that’s a fact, even more so if a woman does it. My grandma said: “If you have a problem with your husband and you need to change his behavior, never ever talk to your husband about it, tread him friendly and loving and talk with his firend or his mother, ask them to talk with him, only then chances are, that the situation will change. A wise woman.
There are stoties that a Bhikkhuni thought a Bhikkhu and he was grateful because he became enlightend through the Bhikkhuni's help, they were friends, so teaching in a compassionate way Bhikkhus is not forbidden.
If what one says is taken as critic or as support is often more an interpretation depending on the perception of the receiver of the message. As former actress I know that critics are to be given to improve one's actions. If a monk does not want that, ok. And cirticism in another way than helpful and loving is not allowed for both, Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis, as it would be wrong speach. The Buddha clearly said in the vinaya how a Bhikkhus should critizise one another same holds true for Bhikkhunis. Admonishing is a sensible act always not only among monastics.
Here they are, one version of many:
1. However old a bhikkhuni may be, she must pay respect even to a newly ordained monk and should learn and practise this dhamma throughout her life.
2. A bhikkhuni must not stay in a nunnery to observe the Buddhist Lent where there is no bhikkhu nearby and should learn and practise this dhamma throughout her life.
3. A bhikkhuni must invite a bhikkhu every fortnight to fix the date of Sabbath and the day to listen to the exhortation (Ovada) of the monks and should learn and practise this dhamma throughout her life.
4. A bhikkhuni must perform the ceremony of Confession and taking advice both in the bhikkhu Sangha and the bhikkhuni Sangha and should learn and practise this dhamma throughout her life.
5. A bhikkhuni must observe the manattna discipline first from a bhikkhu and then from a bhikkhuni and should learn and practise this dhamma throughout her life.
6. A bhikkhuni, after training in six pacittiya rules of the bhikkhuni patimokkha, should seek upasampada from both bhikkhu and bhikkhuni sanghas and should learn and practice this dhamma throughout her life.
7. A bhikhhuni must not admonish a bhikkhu and should learn and practice this dhamma throughout her life
8. Since having become a nun, she should be receptive to learning and should learn and practise this dhamma throughout her life.
And here another one:
1. A nun who has been ordained even for a hundred years must greet respectfully, rise up from her seat, salute with joined palms, do proper homage to a monk ordained but that day.
• clarification: The Vinaya recounts the story of six monks who lifted up their robes to show their thighs to the nuns. When the Buddha learned about this, he made an exception to that rule and told the nuns not to pay respect to these monks. A nun, then, does not have to bow to every monk, but only to a monk who is worthy of respect.
• Pajapati's later request: "I would ask one thing of the Blessed One, Ananda. It would be good if the Blessed One would allow making salutations, standing up in the presence of another, paying reverence and the proper performance of duties, to take place equally between both bhikkhus and bhikkhunis according to seniority."
2. A nun must not spend the rains in a residence where there are no monks. [See Bhikkhuni Pac.56: Vin.IV. 313 ]
3. Every half month a nun should desire two things from the Order of Monks : the asking as to the date of the Observance [ uposatha ] day, and the coming for the exhortation (bhikkhunovada). (See Bhikkhuni Pac.59: Vin.IV. 315)
4. After the rains a nun must 'invite' [ pavarana ] before both Orders in respect of three matters, namely what was seen, what was heard, what was suspected. (See Bhikkhuni Pac. 57: Vin. IV.314)
5. A nun, offending against an important rule, must undergo manatta discipline for half a month before both Orders.
6. When, as a probationer, she has trained in the six rules (cha dhamma) for two years, she should seek higher ordination from both Orders.
• note contradiction: One of the gurudhamma mentions sikkhamanas, probationary nuns who train for two years in preparation to become bhikkhunis. It says that after a probationary nun has trained with a bhikkhuni for two years, that bhikkhuni preceptor has the responsibility to fully ordain her. However, when the Buddha ordained Mahapajapati, there were no probationary nuns. He ordained her directly as a bhikkhuni. So how do we explain that within the eight important rules, one of them states that before becoming a bhikkhuni, a woman must be a probationary nun?
7. A Monk must not be abused or reviled in any way by a nun.
8. From today, admonition of monks by nuns is forbidden. (Book of the Discipline, V.354-55)
• note Buddhist Laywomen can: This is in contrast to the rules for Buddhist Laywomen who can single handedly accuse a bad monk; which would make no sense since the Ordained, monastic bhikkhunis (nuns) are clearly meant to have more respect than lay people.


days are going by, fast.
The bump offered me brand new shoes today, they are a little large but very nice. So I have to wear shoes now. He gave me stomach medicine, too. someone had told him that I had stomach problems the other day. They are gone and forgotten since long ...
the fun of the day happens in the morning, on alms round, the rest is like meditating and learning Dhamma everywhere else in the world. Except that here are no construction sites in the temple and no Thaipop music behind walls. It,s much less noisy in the city of Los Angeles close to a 4 way drive tahn in a small Thai village. As a result I hear the tinnitus more often and louder. but it doesn't bother me anymore, it's the sound of silence. (It first appeared during my first vipassana retreat 2007 when some drunken Thai villagers fired a bengal firework next to the kuti I was meditating in.) but back to the fun: on alms round the monks do get a little bit more of everything, more food more cake, generally more sweets. Twice in the past week I could observe how a slight greed and feeling of unfairness arouse in my mind for a second. Imagine that, I'm carrying a bowl full with food to feed 2 or 3 people more and a bag full with drinks and sweets and then the thought arises: "booah, the monk got a yogurt, and a cake, ..." What a shame!
I thought of my brother and me as children, we observed carefully what the other one got and it's kind of borne right to me to get the same as the brother and to feel injustice whenever it was different. Time to grow up Phalañanī.
Life is not fair without a caring mother around. It is like that and we only have one option to choose, if we want to find peace at heart, freedom from suffering - and that is: acceptance.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


today it feels like being here, now. I'm back to health and strength, find sleep at night and can meditate and read suttas at day. How wonderful. It's really starge, when mind and body are so way apart, mind somewhere over the pacific and body in an unknown place.
Yesterday some facebook friends became real, they came to visit at Wat Thai and we spent an houre talking and visiting the monastery, which i didn't do before. It's a nice temple.
I enjoy the daily Dhammatalk and group meditation in the evening. A course is running presently. Everyday I meet new, lovely people, all Thai. People seek to talk to me, but ask respectfully 2 or 3 questions and then leave me alone. No construction sites around!
There is nothing to complain about, although it's not free from suffering - only it does not appear right now within me. In others it does - may they get over it.

The two young monks who join for pindabat didn't know how to put on their outer robes ... :o)
Monks since 5 months one and the other since some weeks, they stared at me to find out how the robe is to be put on. I couldn't show them, because there were people around, but I opend mine to adjust it a little bit to show them, how it is done. This morning they came and proudly presented their results of trying to put on an outer robe. If I was a monk in charge to observe the dress code, I've must sent them back to their rooms, but as I'm just the mae chii, i gave them an encouraging smile. Nice boys what a luck for them that they found meditation.

I front of the house where I stay an old man lives in a car. He was soldier in the us army, could live better than this, but prefers to live here. From the beginning on he always greeted me very friendly. Today I went out to give him a jogurt. He started talking first in Thai, then in english and, oh wonder, i had understood what he had said in Thai. He was meditation for long and when he saw me he knew >I'm able to 'get it' (the final goal, liberation from suffering) in this live. I am the first person he has ever seen that might be able to 'get it'.< Pouuh. "You can! in this life, no one of the others here can, you can! Do more walking meditation, do it outside, not inside your room, do it naturally, then you will get it, you are like one of this flying lights on Loy Kratong (a hot air balloon with a lit fire). But don't walk barefoot anymore, I give you shoes." "Oh no, I don't need shoes", said I. "You need", said he. "We're at 2010 not at 0001, not at the Buddhas time, you need shoes and I want to give them to you, you do walking meditation outside with the shoes i give you and you'll get it, that's my merit, that's my meditation." I tried to escape, a bump wants to buy shoes for me. What can I do? He doesn't seem to be an alcoholic or mad, though, his eyes were sparkling, clear. Handicapped he is and his mind not in peace, but not mad. Everything he said, he repeated 3 up to 5 times. "those who think they are small, are big and those who think they are big are small. I want you to break through." "I'll try." "No, don't try, do it, you can." Then i went inside.
I felt caught when he spoke about the walking meditation, how could he know that I'm skipping it sometime because I don't like it?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


almsround in Los Angeles.
How wonderful that I can go on real alms round here in Los Angeles. First the Ajaan, then his attendant and in some distance me. Yesterday a young monk joined and today a second young monk with attendant. So we are 6 people marching in a row through the streets of North Hollywood. Some people offer food right at the monastery, others drive by and stop on our way and some more people meet in a Thai restaurant, where we finally eat out of our bowls. The young monks do not yet know how to wear their robes properly and only one knows the blessing chant.
People got a hint that I eat vegetarian and now we receive mainly vegetarian food.
Thai's are funny. Either they like you or ignore you. The women offering food at the temple already love me. One at the first sight started to cry when she saw me. "You are so beautiful, I'm so happy to see you, I never thought it was possible that a woman can do that. i tried to go with them on alms round but I can't, I'm so happy to see you." We never met before. She hugged me long. Next day she came running and screaming "Nimon, Nimon!" Wich is the invitation to receive an offering. After pindabat I met another of the women from the morning. She stopped me and said: "You know, your voice is so different, a voice like yours I never heard it before, non of the monks here can do the chanting like you do, you touch my heart, please, if you do evening chanting record it and give it to me I want to hear you voice it helps me to calm down". Then she talked about her life a bit until her husband came to pick her up.
I'm not sure what to do. I'm not allowed to make people love my voice to receive more almsfood. It is not my intention to do so, but if I record something for her, it might seem that I try to pull her on my side. If I don't she might be upset and it might seem that I'm not willing to cooperate. For now I told her that I have no device to record.

Yesterday after lunch I was taken to a huge chinese Kwan Im Temple here in Los Angeles aera. Why do I have the impression it's just a moneymaking business?

post scriptum

I have received an serious and probably acceptable response to my wish to ordain as Bhikkhuni and might be able to do so before the vassa. yep! Some conditions are to be checked but at least someone who is respected in the Sangha will accept my Mae Chii ship as equal to the required 2 year training. That's a good news! Ha.
To be honest I don't care any more if I'm Bhikkhuni or not. :o) If I can be this year, good, if not may it be so, I may ordain in one and a half year then - the suffering for it has ended. I've seen too many abuse of this precious state of existence and I will not be better than any of those who abuse it. So, keep the ball low, Phalañani.
I’m not shivering of cold anymore. Probably I was really sick. Good that I decided not to travel on to the desert and to north California. It’s a wonderful spring day, like spring in Mallorca. Mallorquin springs are marvelous. Although I haven’t seen the American part of my family since more then 10 years and even if I really wish to personally get to know some Bhikkhunis in the bay area, it’s time to stay where I am, rest and meditate. I learn to accept the limitations of an elderly body.
One thing I noticed during my trip: somehow, unknown, unnoticed I’ve lost the panic when it come to share a place to sleep. I shared room with 2 Bhikkhunis for several nights and in Hua Hin I slept in a sala with about 5 or 6 other people. Formerly I had a serious problem with that. Seriously serious. I just paniced, no discussion and the only solution could have been to either not sleep or leave. But I slept now, and at the moment of acknowledging the fact that room hast to be shared no panic arose. Impressive. This is a proof that meditation really works and one can overcome neuroses.
Not that I like sharing room now, if ever possible I will not do so and I will not do with a layperson, I guess.
Here I have a room for my own in a house that I share with laypeople, people who come to meditate. That’s not proper, not good (the house sharing, that they come to meditate is perfect, of course) . I have personally absolutely no problem with it, even to stay in a house with a man, if I weren’t a nun I would not even think that sharing a house with a man could be somewhat difficult. But I am a nun, and I understand why Buddha layed down this rule. Solution, I can lock the door and do get up before sunrise anyway and can go out before sunrise every 3 nights. Loopholes …

Last night I couldn't sleep for a while, jetlag ... I started thinking:
here I am, in this small room with two high and luxorious beds, laying on the floor between them, there I was hungry starving in the airplane and didn't touch the wonderful vegetarian food in front of me. I was repeatedly told to wear shoes in america and I did (flipflops and socks), when i was sick, but it doesn't feel right. Am I a silly nun? a fanatic? a sincere follower? do I have a tendency for selftorture or is it just because I try to follow the Buddhas path?

Monday, March 15, 2010

up to date

after staying in Hua Hin in a tibeten meditation center, after visiting Venerable Bhikkhuni Dhammananda, who was brilliant, and after finally going back to Bangkok to stay one more night in my friend Sirikarn's house, I went to the airport and got my flight to Los Angeles. It was ok, except maybe that it was 3 hours longer than expected, that they concealed the fact that we have 2 stop instead of only 1 and that I could not eat the delicious vegetarian food that they had for me because it never was the right time. So I had a lot of juices, some butter and stomach problems anyway.
When I arrived customs was full of friendly and smiling officers, except the one where I had the luck to come to. (You can't choose) I was wearing shoes to not to be too offensive and tried to look as normal as possible with my ball head, without eyebrows and wrapped in weird brown blankets.
I was asked to show my return ticket.
I had none. I tried to explain that I don't want to return to Thailand, that I wish to see my mum in Germany instead and hope to find a cheap flight on internet once I'm settled in the monastery.
No way, without return ticket I was not allowed to enter America and was brought to customs, where I was informed that I either can purchase a ticket out of the country after my official 90 days stay or I will be sent back right away.
A young woman from Malaysia air, the airline which brought me here, came to do get the ticket for me. The airline one arrives with is responsible that one leaves again. So I had to trust her. phone didn't work, no money in the pockets, a credit card that doesn't work as we found out later, no chance to inform my friends who organized that I will be picked up.
I told that woman what I need is the cheapes flight to germany and said I have a credit card, she said: "I'll be back with the ticket in 30 minutes". And off she went. 4 hours later she appeared to tell me that she could get a flight for 3500 bugs.
4 hours seeing people questioned, deported, desperate arguing.
After 3 hours waiting i saw my friends from far, a saffron robe on the other end of the hall surrounded by happy Thai people. No way for me to call, yell, wave, or catch their attention. I tried to ask people around if I could make a call. No signal, and not allowed anyway.
The seats were more comfortable than those in the airplane so I could sit easy and meditate or for some time just vegitate dul. It's all impermanent. The Armenian man was in despair and almost freaked out he didn't want to go back to Armenia, even if he was a known burglar and not welcome in America, he repeated " no, NO, nooo,nonononono.But no chance fro him. The rich fat guy in expensive sportswear who was accused of murder and swore it was false accusation was called into a backroom. The Latino and his son had to go back to where they came from because his wife who was waiting outside had not enough money for their return ticket, they came like me without it. One passport had not 6 months of validity left. I don't know what happened to the Russian girl she came too often to America with a tourist visa, if she wanted to stay, what she was working and where, she was brought to the backroom. The old Chinese Lady in a wheelchair had brought an expired passport. The Japanese Business man lost his face and yelled at the officer, which probably made his stay at customs even longer. and so on.
America the Land of unlimited possibilities.
Well, after 4 hours I had not jet a flight but could give the attending woman my friends phone number and asked her to inform them, they must have arrived home by now ... wondering where I am. We decided to get any flight out of America of her airline which was refundable, I would show the ticket to the friendly officer, and next day cancel the flight. Good idea, I entrusted her the credit card. "I'll be back in 10 minutes". " Yes, yes" more sleeping then awake, but shivering of cold and not able to sleep I prepared mentally to spend a few more hours here.
After three quarters or so, she was already back, the credit card didn't work. Hmmm, what's next? "Did you call my friends?" "No." "Please, do." Off she was. I prepared mentally to spend my night there. Surprisingly fast, after only 15 minutes she came back, smiling and waving a sheet of paper. A flight confirmation. "We show this to the officer now, then you can get out of here, later your friends come, pick you up and sign the bill at the malaysian air counter."
Without Carbon tablets (damn diarrhea) and without friends all could have been much worse.

Now I'm at Wat Thai since 3 days, today the diarreah seems to get better. We go on alms round, food is plenty and very good, today for the first time i was kind of hungry. People are very nice and welcoming. I did some excursions to see Venerable Karuna Dharma, Bhante Piyananda, a Kuan Im Temple, washed all my cloth in warm water in a washing machine and rest and meditate. My trip to the desert and to north California is canceled in favor of resting and arriving and the weather is getting warmer. It's like a Mallorquian spring. Wonderful.

how to make enemies

somehow I got into the "outstanding women in Buddhisn award" preparation and ceremony as i took residence with my friend Sarani in We-train, a center for women's education and support with orphanage, emergency house for women, hairdresser and massage school etc. etc., a big wonderful project. I met a lot of very nice, warmhearted, courageous women. And found out that Thailand has more Bhikkhunis than one might think, by meeting some of them.
When we came to we-train the award ceremony was about to be prepared by one Bhikkhuni. One I like very much, I have to say. She must be the one why people (monks) in Thailand say: "you want to be Bhikkhuni for feminism". I never understood why the monks say that, there are other ways, more effective to lance feminism then by becoming a nun. But she did it. Her goal is feminism, equality of gender. I don't understand why she became a nun, because there are more effective to lance feminism then by becoming a nun.
All these women were really lovely, that's why I stayed and did what I could to support, although I have to admit, that this award thing is mere feeding defilements, on all ends. It's good to have something like that, sure, in a country where feminism is about 35 years delayed, it will help the women to find a new identity. But it has nothing to do with Buddhism, it should not be organized by nuns, and as far I could see there was only one women really deserving this award, while 10 were receiving it. Inflation. Makes it nothing worth, in the end, that's how inflation works.
And as it exist, this award, it should have audiance, which it might have, if it were organized by other people then nuns.

I'm disillusioned about Bhikkhunis now. I had high hopes that we could show the monks that we have a right to be female monks by being humble, keeping rules, behaving well as the Buddha requested it, kind of: we deserve it because we're worth it. But that's not the way the Bhikkhuni's I met so far see it. They behave like monks, as bad as the bad ones. I must make one exception: Bhikkhuni Agganyani who imprisons herself to not break a rule.
Can't there be a middle way? An honest intend to keep rules. An honest confession if it was not possible to keep. Forgiveness and try to do better?
As far as it seems there are loopholes, excuses, open offenses, hidden offenses, ...
Not that I will be better. I will break rules. I break them now, I take teabags to brew a tea without having each bag given to me, I presently stay under the same roof with laypeople and even a man, I will look for loopholes, I will find excuses in case of breaking a rule (in the latter case: it's a room I'm given, what can I do?). I'm wearing much more than my 5 parts of my robes (and still feel cold).
The rules are training rules and I slowly become a little bit more relaxed about them, they are training rules, after all. I'm not complaining anymore about people who don't keep rules. I just wonder why rules are taken when there is no intention whatsoever to keep them. The intention makes the difference.
May I have enough effort to keep the 311 rules to it's best, may I not lose the good intention to keep rules and may I grow into the holy life and be able to suppress wanting which seems to be the mayor reason for rule breaking.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


on my second or third day in Bangkok we went to the new airport to pick up a outstanding-women-in-Buddhism-award-winning Bhikkhuni, we that was 2 thai bhikkhunis, 1 american and i, the mae chii. We had lots of time and went to the monks waiting room. The Thai bhikkhunis didn't know that such a room exists and were delighted to see it. After sitting there for a while, a monk slowly opened the door and moved his head in slowly turning it towards us. It took me a second to realize, that it was my Ajahn. "Oh, only women" he said, we greeted him respectfully and then he left. He was probably on his way to china, where he and some others are giving a meditation course.
Later, we were waiting at the gate, to pick the person up, a monk came down on the electric starirs. He was smiling. The airport is always full of monks. Then I looked again, it was one of my brothers of Chiang Mai, he was on his way back to the monastery and was happy to meet me because he had to give me some information about ordination.
Suvanabhumi airport is huge, incredible to meet someone i know.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Sarani waited paitently for an answer if I accompany her to Bangkok or not. Finally yes I did. We had 3 days together there, then she went to LA and waits for me there, in case i'll go up to the north of California on 12th.
We came to women training center, we-train, where the ceremony of giving-the-outstanding-wome-in-Buddhism-award was prepared.
I had a room for my own in the nun's cottage, it was actually not really alone, I shared with hunderets of mosquitoes. They had hidden under the bed, i used a mosquitonet because the room had no screens. unfortunately i did not know that plenty blood succer were under the bed and hang the net just so that it touched the ground, There was no exit for them. At 1:00am I started feeding the mosquitoes for 2 hours.
the center has everything, big guesthouse, orphanage, place for mistreated women, hairdresser school, thaimassage, restaurant and so on.
i got to know the organizer of the awards-ceremony, a Bhikkhuni since many years. she was very nice, down to earth and funny. every day more Bhikkhunis and other women arrived.
I went on almsround with the organizer every morning and received lots of food from people who knew her and money. She was a mae chi for long time in this place and has many friends there.
It was shocking to see that some monks "went" on alms round by being driven by motorcycle, just jump off, receive, give blessing and drive too the next one. the driver was waiting 2 meters away having about 10 bags on his cycle.
My friend and supporter Sirikarn met with me and we went to a Buddhist shop, a shop that supplies every a monk might need. She wanted to offer the first robes to me in case, i could ordain in America.
She went straight to a shop that was recommended by one of her friends, but I didn't feel like getting something there, so we went to the next shop next door and the next, in the 4rth shop i stayed longer and had a look around. Sarani was with us that day. We found robes of pure cotton in a color we all liked. while sirikarn was paying, i was watching monks-mosquitonet-umbrellas with Sarani. the seller came and we asked the price, Sarani wanted to buy one. while the assistent was sent to get one the seller said "I offer it" and she asked me if I want one as well. "No, I said, very nice, but I have already one". the seller yelled: "get another one, search for the best with everything, the entire set." The seller's sister called her friends and family to come over to the shop. "do you need anything else", "no" the seller sent the assistant who had brought all stuff for us to get another outer robe, "do you need anything else", "no" then she told her to get two more vests, I gave a blessing together with Sarani,"do you need anything else", "no" she ordered to bring more lower robes and was desperately looking for something else I might need, she finally had the idea to give both of us another monks-tudong-bag which was a good idea and I really needed one for all things i got. again she asked if i need more, "no!" sarani pointed at my bare feet, the seller said, " I have shoes, but they are of bad quality and will be broken soon, I don't give them to her." I gave another blessing and started to head towards exit before the seller ruined herself by giving me too much. the people that were called befor came in and offered money to us. another blessing, exchange of e-mail addresses and farewell. i hope i will be worth the faith the people suddenly had.
Sirikarn who is way too supersticious asked me days later if i uses supernatural power to get what I want. AAAGgrrrrr!
I try since weeks to tell her that if i had such powers I would not be allowed to use them. To intrude someones mind for the purpose to get what one wants really is the worst, the least, it's bad, bad, bad. Supernatural powers in a person which is not 100% firm in the sila, who has not a pure mind, are a danger, both for the person itself and for all others. Please do not think so bad of me, my friend Sirikarn.
We went after leaving the shop to see Sirikarn's husband who is a high rank of th city police. He officially offered the robes to me. He is nice, calm and friendly. Afterwords we were brought back to the center by a police car. Sarani was a bit dissapointed, that we stood in the trafic as everybody else, not using our blue lights.
to be continued
long ago that i wrote. It's because so many things happend, I could rather get by with updating. I was traveling better said, still am.
I decided about two weeks ago, beginning of march is a good time to go. There had a lot of restlessness arisen and it seemed almost impossible not to travel. Ajahn and Bhikkhuni were traveling to China, so why stay.
I heard that the ajahns were going to china to ordain Bhikkhunis in China, after first giving a retreat. I don't know if this holds true. If it does - i was not asked to join. so i felt like not having any commitment to stay.
versace-slipper had caused enought trouble by telling the nuns not to give me any food without garlic and them having to find ways to give me garlic-free food. It's impossible for a my Thainun-kitchenfriends not to cook any extra for me. I felt indepted and had no better way to help them to have less work than just leave. They sneaked around my kuti and spyed out if the monk is watching and then brought me food, the situation was so ridiculous. Not from the nuns side, of course, but for me it was an unacceptable situation in which the nuns had been, this was the next reason for my sudden departure.
Ajahn was not pleased,would i say from reading his face, for a brief moment he had his ice-face. It's a sight with the abscence of every warm and loving feeling which usually is visable in his appearance. I got that look before, when I left. One is emotionally just cut off. Well, it was not so this time, i was dismissed with warm smiles, but can somehow, until now, not get rid of the feeling that i was supposed not to go now.