Sunday, March 21, 2010
I have been asked to fill in at the Sitagu Dhamma Vihara in St. Paul, Minnesota for a month, and flew up here on Thursday.
The monastery here plays a very active role in the life of the Burmese community. Frankly I'm surprised there are any Burmese in Minnesota at all; it's gets so cold. Generally only has one monk, Ashin Nayaka, a young guy. He is going to India for two months to finish his Ph.D. Normally a very senior monk, Ashin Mahasaddhapandita Sayadaw, based in Florida would fill in, but he has a trip to Europe planned. So they asked me to pop up here for one month; I guess they were desperate.
My main duty is to receive food offerings. As luck would have it, eating is something I've always been good at. However I need to chant certain things and offer short Dharma talks, as well as make myself useful in many practical ways. There is a rather steep learning curve, so my stay is overlapping with the departing Ashin Nayaka, so he can show me the ropes; he leaves on Tuesday.
I've met most of the families who are active here. There is almost no Western representation here, just Burmese, and one other woman who I saw once. I am going to visit other Buddhist temples and maybe make some Western contacts. I will also continue writing.
The picture I've included has nothing to do with Minnesota, except to remind me of how warm weather feels. It was taken February 28. I think we have the look for a great punk rock band. We just need a name. Any ideas? The nice thing is that we don't actually need to learn to play instruments: We're monks and are not supposed to play music.