Daily Life Practice On the Road.

Since the last posting I found out that the road we had taken from the airport was closed due to flooding soon after we passed in the small hours of the morning. So, glad we got through.

The first day in Taiwan? Can I remember back that far? Yes, lunch with the Master and his newly ordained disciple and maybe up to 15 lay practitioners as well. Then to the lecture hall in town to sit and drink tea and attempt to communicate what it is I am hoping to do while in Taiwan. Latter we (the Master and his three disciples)climbed into the temple mini bus and drove for perhaps two and half hours, at a sedate pace, to the temple in the central mountain area. I am growing used to the scale of the temples here however that first sight of the place where we were to stay was breathtaking. Since then, the following day in fact, we went to a temple where over 1000 monks and nuns live and practice.

The next day, at 6.00 am the nun and I were eating breakfast in the kitchen of the guest house and by 8.00 we were in the Master’s car heading off for a tour into the higher mountains. I could see that the nun was driving with full awareness that she was driving her Master’s car although there were a couple of times I couldn’t help myself and encouraged her to drive closer to the right side of the road! (As I write this she is trying to tell me something via an electronic dictionary, it might be something about the virus attack warnings that keep popping up on this computer which I would really like to fix but the owner seems not to be concerned. Language difficulties again….). The most memorable place we visited was a temple above a lake where we met an 85 year old nun who had become a nun when she was ten years old. (Now the nun traveling with me is trying to tell me not to be anxious about the virus attack! The dictionary has come up with “to be affected by poison”, yes I think that describes this computer so I had better get off quickly….)

To cut a long story short I am in the high mountains using the computer in a store next to the place where I will stay tonight. We have walked in the tropical mountain forest this afternoon and it is all captured on video. Today I’ve also been aided by Millie, a young woman who kindly took a day off work to translate for me. Thank you Millie if you are reading this, please post a comment if you want to.

This morning we went to a temple where there are 60 nuns training. We had tea with the Abbess and I think it has been arranged that we will go and stay there on Friday night so I can get a feel for monastic training in a medium size temple where only nuns practice. If things sound vague it is because arrangements have the habit of changing very quickly. For example I thought we would only be away from the city temple one night and it turns out we will be away for three…or is it four!?

I really do need to get off this computer as the pop up messages are getting more and more serious, the nun is standing to my right mentally wringing her hands – well I would be in her position – and the TV is loud in my left ear. This is just a small picture of how life is for me on a moment to moment level.

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Typhoon Rain in Taiwan.

The young nun who is my guide and escort tells me that “it ALWAYS rains this week”, apparently next week it stops!

The plane from Japan to Taiwan was delayed about three hours because of an engine problem. The United pilot, attempted to pacify the passengers, gaily said “We wouldn’t want to fly in a bad plane would we”?

At Immigration in Taipei the officer seemed amazed to see a Western Buddhist Monastic, I was the first one he had seen. This has often been the case here in Asia, people are surprised to see a Western monk. I was greeted at arrivals (they were holding up a large sign with “Welcome Mugo Master”) by a novice nun and three lay people. The couple I found out trade in rosaries and there is a young woman studying Business who, I think, was on board as an interpreter. We climbed into a modern SUV all decked out with rosaries and the like and charged off into the night which soon become early morning. The humidity is high and it’s about 23c. Thankfully it had been arranged for us to stay at a hotel for the night to rest before going on to the next destination…where ever that might be. We traveled for about two hours to get to this place. I see we are in Taichung…

(For those who are interested in technical matters it is a relatively normal feature of hotel room to have a LAN connection to the Internet and that is how I am able to write this blogger on my laptop.)

The plan, as far as I can understand it, as language is difficult, is to have lunch with the Master who has arranged all of this and then go to the mountain temple after that.

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Not like falling off a log

There is Sumo wrestling on the TV to my left and beyond that is a United plane stocking up with supplies. I’m at Narita Airport Japan preparing myself for Taiwan where I will be in just a few hours from now. It has been arranged that a monastic contact, one made via Rev. Oswin in Eugene Oregon, to pick me up and whisk me away to a mountain temple in the middle of Taiwan. It is the Buddha’s Birthday celebrations tomorrow and I understand that there will by a whole series of visits and events arranged for me while I am in Taiwan.

Iain will be back with Edera now, drinking tea and absorbing all that has happened these past weeks while we have been traveling together. It has been an unforgettable journey and I am, once again, very grateful to have been escorted through what was, at times, rather difficult circumstances. Catching a taxi in China is not like falling off a log, believe me!

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West Lake in Hang Zhou, China

Described as Lotus Pond Resort! This is just a small part of West Lake in Hang Zhou.

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The halls and temple grounds are crowded with tourists and pilgrims and then in late afternoon, as we experienced at Tiantong, the gates are closed and the place returns to silence. The resident priests continue to walk about much the same as they do when there are visitors around. There seems to be nothing, not even the gathered crowds, the cell phones ring etc. that can shake the grounded stability of these ancient sites where Buddhism is being practiced, still.


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Practice Within The Order of Buddhist Contemplatives