I’m not sure what to write about, to be honest. Nothing has struck me in recent days as significant enough warranting a special post. I had wanted to continue with a post on the Chinese liturgy, but I lost the original audio files when my computer froze and I had to erase the hard drive (for a second time) a few weeks ago.
So, with apologies, this post is nothing special.
Though, I did finally find a very nice image of the main Buddha statues at Dharma Drum: Amitabha Buddha on the left, Shakyamuni in the Center, and Bhaisajyaguru Buddha (the Medicine Buddha) on the right:
Here’s what’s been on the mind recently:
Taiwan is an interesting place; well, to be accurate, I should say “Taipei,” as I haven’t ventured very far beyond the borders of the city, save up to Dharma Drum Mountain about an hour and a half away. As a monk, it is an interesting place probably for reasons other than it is for most people. Most people, I imagine, get joyfully swept up by all the sights, sounds, tastes, etc., of Taiwan life. It is quite a sensory experience, if you are open to such things. The people are warm and friendly, but in different ways that most Americans are. The food ranges from extraordinary to close-to-horrifying. And, I am guessing from seeing all young people practicing their dance moves in the subway stations on the weekends, that the night life in Taipei is active, to say the least.
As a monk, though, these sorts of things are not the main feature of interest or attention (though, it is kind of hard to ignore them completely.) Rather, what tends to capture my attention are the ways people interact with each other, with me, or with themselves. There is a calmness, generally, about most people over the age of about 20 that I see. There is also a courteousness and conscientiousness that I find admirable; but it does not seem to be personal, which is a bit difficult to grok for a person conditioned in America. It seems that many people tend to think of others as much if not more than they think of themselves. People follow rules, not out of submission but out of understanding. For example, when someone receives a cell-phone call on the subway, they cover their mouth when speaking so as not to disturb others. You also see many people wearing masks around Taipei (some quite creative), both to protect themselves from pollution, germs, etc., but also to protect others from a cold they may have.
I’m sure I’m seeing all of this from a fairly glazed and ignorant perspective, but I find it refreshing in many ways.
Speaking of refreshing, I have ended up recently moving to Taipei for the weekdays. As much as I find benefit and enjoy staying at Dharma Drum Mountain, the five plus hours a day of travel to and from Chinese class got to be too much (and too expensive). So, I’m staying at Dharma Drum’s office building they own in Taipei. It is called 德貴 (déguì), which means something like “noble virtue.” It is a 10-floor new office building, home to many of the administrative functions of Dharma Drum, including its up-and-coming University and various foundations they run. There is a bedroom on the 3rd floor that I have kindly been given the Ok to say in. It also serves as a room for monks who have late-night business in town and cannot make it back to one of the Dharma Drum temples.
I will say that this move has opened up a tremendous amount of time to actually practice the Chinese we are learning, as well as easing what had become a fairly exhausted body. I now have probably too many offers of help with practicing Chinese from enthusiastic Taiwanese wanting to help a wayward American monk, as well as improve their own English. It looks like things will be busy during the week. And, on most weekends, I will travel back to Dharma Drum Mountain to stay there, returning to Taipei on Mondays.
I had photos of 德貴 that also got erased with the aforementioned audio files, so I cannot show you what this building looks like at the moment, except for this one I found on the internet:
I also had hoped to capture some photos of some very interesting trees in the neighborhood on a walk I took today, as I haven’t seen many like them in the U.S. However, the skies soon opened up and such a downpour commenced that required a quick retreat back into the building, with only this photo captured as a preview of more impressive, very wet specimens found later on:
I did take a video just outside of 德貴 the other night, as the scene made me stop and smile at what is a lovely display of lights that really only has one purpose (you can figure it out for yourself, if you would like.) The video isn’t the best, but it sort of captures the experience. It may be better viewed in full-screen, which you can achieve by pressing the full screen button on the bottom right-hand corner of the YouTube player; or you can find the original video on the YouTube site where it is located:
Thanks for reading…..I do hope this finds you well, with nothing special in your week as well.