One of the fellow VSO’ers asked me last week if there were Buddhist nuns in Bangladesh. No no, I said, no Buddhist nuns here.
Turns out there ARE Buddhist nuns here. So yesterday I was taken to see the lady monks. The Sadhu Ma’s (good mothers)
There is a temple only about a 1/2 hour walk from here, where 3 nuns live. If I understood correctly, these are the only 3 nuns in Rangamati, compared to the many, many monks. These nuns live by the strict Buddhist code,which I think is more restrictive for nuns than for monks. And I certainly haven’t seen any of these ladies in the tea shop having a fag while working at a laptop either.
The little temple area consists of mostly corrugated iron buildings, with what appears to be a foundations and start of a concrete building in the middle. Or maybe it’s a building that is being pulled down. Michael Palin, in his ‘Himalaya’ book, travelled through Bangladesh and remarked that when watching workmen, it’s impossible to tell whether they’re putting something up or breaking it down. It’s true, sometimes it is hard to tell.
There is one corrugated iron structure that houses a statue of the Lord Buddha, and 28 other statues. Well, it should be 28, but 2 have been donated to other temples, so right now it’s 26. They represent the 28 Buddhas that preceded the Lord Buddha. Now don’t quote me on this, as this information may well have been lost a little in translation. But there are definitely 28 other statues there that meant something…
I plan to learn more about Buddhism while I’m here. Now that the heat is no longer so debilitating, I have more energy and I should put it to good use. Buddhadatta lived in South Korea for 10 years teaching at a Buddhist centre, and has agreed to spend some teaching me. And to give me some guidance with meditation. I’ve tried before (in the ashram in India) but do you have any idea how hard it is to still your mind? Well, let me tell you, it’s HARD. And it’s crazy how your mind wanders and the places it goes when you give it the freedom to. The things that pop up are sometimes unbelievable. Like serious, where did THAT come from stuff. Not that I managed to actually mediate, but sometimes I did manage to just watch the play of my mind as if watching a movie screen (as the lovely Swami’s told us to). That was when I wasn’t falling asleep. The line between trying to meditate and falling asleep is fine. Very fine.