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.