Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Buddhist monkeys

Today we decided to walk up to the "nice place to meditate." I knew this was going to be physically challenging for me, but what else did we have to do?

A few minutes in, I was all, "It's hot, I can't, I'll wait here." It wasn't particularly scenic at that point, just hot and dusty. The road was so steep and rocky, it was hard to imagine any other method of getting up there, but two women with horses passed us on the way down. Rob asked where they got them and they said, "luckily they're ours." We should have asked to rent them.

After we got to a prettier area with trees, Rob stopped to take a picture. I trudged on, looking at my feet and decided this could be like a walking meditation. One foot in front of the other. I could do that for an hour. That way, I wasn't looking up at the steep hill that went on forever, because then, even if I thought, oh, I just need to make it up to that tree, I could tell there was more steepness beyond.

Staring at my feet, I could concern myself with one step at a time. Living in the present moment. Very Zen. Except I also was mentally composing what I would write about it later.

My focus on my feet was distracted by a large monkey sitting very close to the path. We took several dozen pictures of him picking at his knee. He didn't seem to mind us, until Rob reached out "to shake his hand" (?), and the monkey bared his teeth, struck an aggressive pose and galloped away.

We reached a fork and asked a red-robed monk which way to go. (Yeah, monks just happen to be standing around whenever you need one.) He pointed and we noticed several monkeys putting on an acrobatic show on the monk's front lawn. Then, for no reason at all, they moved in for the attack, rushing toward me, teeth bared and all.

"They're coming after me!" I cried, fearing that if I ran, they'd chase, so I stomped and growled and barked at them. Which sort of discouraged them, but not entirely. The monk gestured that we should throw rocks at them.

Seriously? Is that what monks do? Not that the monkeys even noticed the monk.

I picked up a few rocks, but by then the monkeys were no longer interested in us.

Rejuvenated, or energized by the fight or flight instinct, we moved up a narrow rocky trail, side-stepping monkey shit.

The nice place to meditate wound up being the Tushita meditation center, which I suspected and have now verified, was the same place where Matt and Kelly spent 10 days silently meditating. Except when Matt was escaping to eat real food. (Hi, Matt and Kelly!)

It felt a little like trespassing, but we went through the gate and sat down at some tables overlooking the treetops. Pine needles fell on my head, and I worried that the few people passing by were staring at us wondering who we were, but it was the most peaceful and quiet moment we've experienced in a long time.

It had been a few hours since my breakfast banana pancake (it was actually a pancake; I was expecting a crepe). And like my cousin, I got hungry, so we left.

1 comment:

The Lewis Farm said...

really enjoying reading your experiences! those monkeys are vicious, aren't they?!