Kauai Update #2

I am still happy to report that things are continuing to go well. However, we did have a small hiccup, OK, a big one. We moved.

Yes, I know it was beautiful place we had, and maybe the most beautiful place in Kauai too. But something was just not right and so we decided to move out and we are in a new place on a three acre tropical fruit orchard. This arrangement should be temporary until we find a new place. I wanted to move to Anini which was my original plan, but our donor would not let that happen, so we are on her property now. Apparently, there are some rough people at Anini beach park and it has changed since I was last there 15 years ago.

Instead of a 25 minute walk to the start of two of our three pindapata routes, it takes 40 minutes. While it is only fifteen more minutes, the stroll has turned into a hike. However, in the morning it is not so bad to do. On the way back, with full bowls (did I mention that part?) it is not so fun. Luckily in the past twelve days, we have been offered a ride back everyday usually while walking, and we do not stick out our thumbs either.

I have written long long ago about what a joy it is to hitchhike in Kauai and that not only do really nice people pick up hitchhikers, but you get to ride with them too! The same thing, maybe more so could be said about those who offer monks rides who are simply walking on the road in the hot sun or rain. Perhaps our lucky streak with rides will end, but that is what has been happening. Today, the waves were really really big (about ten feet), and our impromptu driver stopped the car on the way to see the waves and surfers. He brought a small telescope to watch the dare devil surfers take their chances against Mother Nature’s joy or wrath.

We get -some- food from the houses, but not really on a sustainable and consistent level (yet). In the end, we use the time to practice metta (Loving Kindness) in front of each house and that can never be a waste of time. I bundle it as meditation time rather than pindapata time. People still ask us what we are doing from time to time and we are certainly well known in the village. People often happily beep at us while we are walking on the road with two soft and short beeps and have explained to my Sri Lankan friend that these are happy beeps. He responded with a clever pun on “be happy” by saying, “beep happy.” The people seem to like us, give us the “Hang Loose” sign, say hello to us, and sometimes they have their hands together in anjali (prayer position). All that said, rarely do they give any food. They just do not know what we are doing and still think our bowls are drums. Or maybe they do know…that we -are- being fed.

The bowls are indeed getting full. However, it is mostly from our donors who we have met along the way. They originally wanted to bring us food at the house, but we suggested that donating on the road was much better. We think they also agree. Nevertheless, it is not an easy task to find us and sometimes the phone rings while we are on pindapata; “Bhante, where are you?” I bring the phone for this purpose. We have three donors who come and find us in this way on different days and usually two donors per day are needed to feed us properly. We also accept food on the road from the lady whose property we are staying at, although she slips a few donations in at home too. Accepting on the road is our way, at least for now.

We have given two dhamma talks on the full moon days in July and August which were requested by our first “drive-by-donor.” The first talk was on the Dhammacakkapavatana Sutta since it was on that full moon day when that this discourse was taught long ago. Do you know the Tibetan Wheel of Dharma picture? It is sort of about that. ” Setting the Dhamma Wheel in Motion” is the English translation of Dhammacakkapavattana. The second talk was on Sabbāsavā Sutta. “All the Taints.” The talks have a two hour running time complete with three sections to them.

1. Chanting and loving kindness meditation
2. Talk on subject
3. Meditation on Breath, Q/A and sharing merit

Two hours is indeed a long time, but those who know us have said it is OK the way it is. The are are two breaks also given during the two hours and if it were too long, I would have a hard time figuring out which part to remove. I incorporate much of the daily chanting into the talks and I have calculated that if it is good for the monks to reflect on these chants once or twice a day, it is good to have the lay people reflect on this once a month. So I do not care if I repeat myself and re-explain the same thing over and over again each month. If it is important, why not hear it again? “There can never be too much Loving Kindness,” I say.

We are still going for food everyday and we have added another restaurant to our itinerary increasing our “sure-thing” meals to four days per week. We still go on pindapata in the village on these days, but the sustainable meal comes from the restaurants afterwards. This also relieves the duties of our drive-by-donors who search for us on the roads to make sure we do not go hungry. This additional new Thai restaurant seems to be evolving into a pindapata hall though. The place is closed when we arrive at 10:20 am, but the restaurant gradually gets filled with seven to ten people including kids, husbands and Thai ladies who want to make donations. We cannot accept all of the food of course, but we try to take a small amount from each. That is the tradition of pindapata.

To reconstruct and inverse a Grateful Dead quote, “Every touch of grey has a silver lining.” In other words, something good came out of our move. Our Thai host and her friends are now searching for a small place to start a monastery and it looks like Kauai wants the monks to stay here for a long time. That means that I might be staying here for a long time. Again, this will be believed when we see it happen. If you remember, we were going to have two kuties built for us on the previous place which did not happen. The kuties -were- actually going to happen, but we needed to leave after we researched some technical and beurocratic issues related to doing such a task with the town.

That is pretty much the news for now. We filed for our meditation visas with the Myanmar government. It takes three months to do this in America rather than a few days time in Thailand or Sri Lanka. Few people know that one can work with this three month process in two separate steps like we are doing. The two step process is the same except as the normal process except we send a photocopy of our passports instead of the real thing for the first step. When the approval is given, we can then send them our passports and requisites at any time when we are good and ready to leave. It takes about five days for the second step to get processed.

Lastly, I have recently signed up for and have been approved Quest health care. This is a free health insurance plan with no deductibles for the needy and since I do not have a bank account, I qualify. I am pretty sure this is not Obamacare. Rather, I believe it is part of the state welfare program. It is nice to collect benefits after all of the taxes I have paid long ago when I was a lay person. However, anyone who makes an insurance claim always loses unless they are a crook. So I hope I never need to use this insurance card, but like most insurance card holders, I am glad I have it.

That is mostly all to report!
Aloha!

Bhikkhu Subhuti

Picture: Another rainbow over the new place.

noks farm rainbow

Article by Bhikkhu Subhuti

Bhikkhu Subhuti is an American Buddhist Monk with roots in both Sri Lanka and Myanmar Forest Traditions. He currently resides in Myanmar but his heart sometimes floats back to Kauai, HI where he spent six months in 2015.

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