One of the blogs I really enjoy is Truth is Within, written by a young guy from the far Canadian boonies who somehow ended up in Thailand ordaining as a Buddhist monk. His latest post is a seemingly innocuous update to his settling in at an L.A. temple where he’s been invited to teach meditation. It ends, however, on this startling note:
“Nasty rumours following me from Thailand; not giving them too much thought. Apparently I’m both uncultured and corrupt, and have embezzled donation money as well as insulted my venerable teacher by saying goodbye over the phone.”
I read this with particular interest and sympathy. I have myself just been the subject of my very first internet smear (perhaps that means I’m about to be famous). Apparently I misappropriate donations to support a lavish lifestyle (snort!) and the real reason I’m taking my translator to America to meet my teacher is to atone for an improper relationship with me. Double snort. Oh, and I’m priggish, sectarian, and territorial to the point of undermining the projects of others. I can’t completely deny all of that except the last bit. I checked with the person whose project I was supposed to have tried to “scuttle” and he replied, “Huh?”
But back to our young Canadian friend. I love his two syllable summary of his feelings on the matter:
I couldn’t agree more, and I think about the Buddha’s pithy advice to Cunda in the Sallekha Sutta on “effacement”:
“Others will be cruel; we shall not be cruel here...
Others will speak falsehood; we shall abstain from false speech here...
Others will speak maliciously; we shall abstain from malicious speech here...”
So. To say it directly: in four years I have not misused as much as a single dime of the donations given to this Mongolia project, and there is nothing improper about my relationship with my translator. As everyone knows, this is my girlfriend:
Ah, Amaa. Since she can’t recall her actual birth date, just the astrological year (Water Rabbit or some such), this Tsagaan Sar marks her 105th birthday. Can you imagine? Her attendant just gave me a jingle to say she has come to UB from the provinces to worship at Gandan Monastery during these auspicious days as she does every new year. We’ll find time to see one another after the holiday on Wednesday and I’ll report, with new pix if possible. There are so many false lamas these days, it’s such a dangerously degenerate time spiritually, but this one is the real article.
I still sometimes test/build my vocabulary on the Free Rice site, since the game donates rice where it’s needed, and I learned a new word today: ataraxia. Do you know it? It’s a Greek term, of course. The wiki entry’s quite interesting and this dictionary site lists one definition as “a state of tranquility free from anxiety and emotional disturbance.” Amaa seems to exemplify this, I experience it once in a while, especially lately for some reason, and feel sure it’s the result of steady adherence to virtue, exactly as the Buddha promised.
Please try to abstain from ill will, spreading rumors, or malicious speech toward others, and may you find thereby your ataraxia in this new year.