|A boy patiently waits until I finish an hour of|
meditation in the hopes of money
|My friend in Tangalle, |
puts his niece to sleep with music
|School boy proudly shows his whites |
had made it through a school day
This trip was another good learning lesson. It is to easy to feel like a victim when the scams are numerous, and everyone has their hand out, some blatantly, others very sly so much so they catch off you off guard. It was not that I was an easy target, but instead about the potential I represented for more income. Everyone is struggling to cope with rising costs, and to think that you are the only one is ridiculous. Fuel is higher price there than in Thailand. At times it did become more one thing to deal with when a brain injury can be enough.
|Stopped to give all the kids pens in Uva province|
I did not shy away from giving dana at temples and taking interest in others and trying not to turn off, even when it became overwhelming. A couple of funny instances, like when the boy waited for me to finish meditation, only to offer himself at a price. After which it was the furthest from my mind, so I might have appeared puzzled to him yet showed some interest since I had just photographed him, but such is life.
|Village Moms sell me kola kanda drink|
Another time, when I gave dana at The Temple of The Tooth, and talked to the help, I got lots of privileges once they found out that I am Buddhist. I went behind the ropes to pay respect to Buddha. I got a special showing of a deck overlooking the lake, and when the man asked me if I am married…I told the truth about having a friend, and he then offered himself which became awkward, with his naiveté about gay life and commitment. But such is the truth, and a well meaning smile defused the situation, so as not to offend.
It became obvious more and more that when I felt put upon to immediately think of others, buying mass quantities of pens for school kids, and chocolate to give along the road and train tracks. Yes, villagers come to watch the once a day train in the hills. Many people were interested in me as a foreigner, and curiosity was not always based on need for money. I would take the time with people along my travels to tell me about their life and family. I would keep my spirits up by planning on giving gifts of dhamma books in Sinhalese and people then opened up further. I tried not to take my goals as first and foremost, and ended up missing things to be with people, which made the trip more real.
|My 3 wheel driver took me to see his kids playing soccer|
|A donation at Nun's Vihara near Tangalle|
A king coconut vendor daughter
enjoys the chocolate I gave her
When a tuk-tuk driver I met in Tangalle, took a liking to me based on my face being similar to cricket star and we bonded under these odd circumstances. When at times, I tired to clarify me and what were my desires or fears…. it became an instant wake up about this theme…it was never about you. What is in my mind has absolutely nothing to do about others perceive you. Some people may offer something different from what you desired, but it is what they needed. In many instances it is done with innocence or plain old curiosity. And even some might be just be a clever way to get you to part with your money, as can expected. My partner said something important to me after we got charged double for dinner, “So what? It is just money, and does not justify a bad mood.” My perceived suffering at any given moment is never worthy to be shared, and I would at times have enough sense to put it away and to think of others.
This was the same driver upon getting to know me, took me to a small Buddhist Nun’s Vihara just in time to see a van full of villagers bringing dana and their meal at 11 am. And later cooked a dinner for me, things that would have been missed if I had my armor on as I used to do.
|Siddhartha shows off his |
At the beach the waiters out of boredom would come talk to me, and I would it turn engage and share my knowledge about dhamma. So it was about their needs, and not about my need to just chill out, after going for three weeks moving around. The help would rarely engage in guests, unless the guests engage with them, so I had a new group of friends telling me about the lives and dreams. And I feel we can create our present reality even with suffering, awakening in the process(that took me awhile). I do see a huge change in my responses this time as opposed to the person that visited 10 years ago. I am by no means perfect, and yet can see the gifts of really being present with emotions even with an unseen brain injury.
|A store owner in Haputale proudly stands by his wares|