Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bhante's Visit by Vidyalila

The college of Public preceptors have just been to Tiratanaloka for one of their annual gatherings and Vajradarshini and I have been cooking for them. It was fun working together, with Candraprabha’s help before she flew off to the sunny Canaries. I have enjoyed the familiarity of our banter in the kitchen and the little quirky things that we tease each other about. Then quiet times just getting on with the task, asking each others opinions on important things like, “do you think that there are enough apples cooked for that apple betty pudding we are making”!

As part of the college meetings Bhante came to stay at Tiratanaloka. He decided to eat his meals with us in the community and spent an evening with us by the fire talking. He was only coming for one night but decided to stay two. It was such a pleasure to have Bhante visit us and when I said it was good to have him here, he said it was good to have a change and it was like being on holiday. We told him he had an open invitation to come and visit anytime and he said he might come in the spring.

Talking to Vajradarshini this morning we agreed that having Bhante visit Tiratanaloka was deeply significant and had had an effect that neither of us could quite say why or in what way. After all without Bhante there would be no Tiratanaloka. Its like he's in the fabric of the place. He is so fundamental to what we are doing here. In pujas, study, meditation, the refuge tree, and especially ordination, he is integral to those taking effect. He represents something so vital that has influenced my life, but also to so many of the women who come here. Many women comment that without Bhante they may well not have come across the Dharma and if they had, whether or not they would have made any sense of it for themselves without Bhante’s translation for our western minds.

One of the highlights for me about Bhante’s visit was the ordinariness of things like having him eat with us, seeing him strolling up and down the driveway, and taking him a cup of tea in the afternoon in one of my great aunts china tea cups. He is like a wise great uncle who comes to stay who has traveled the world, pioneered great changes, seen everything there is to see and in the latter part of his life quietly imparts wisdom from the armchair.

I took a few photos, which you can see here, a rather Russian flavour with the hat. He seemed very well and talked about his new book out next year about his teachers and others.

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