The State of the World, in Twelve Chapters, October 27, 2022

We have been told that our reports are too long. We apologize. As we are writing, perhaps, we get carried away and attempt to include too much material. However, since these reports are posted only periodically, and not regularly, we find it difficult to make them much shorter. To facilitate easier navigation and choosing content to suit the different interests of our readers, we offer this Table of Contents, with links to the sections.

Table of Contents

1. "The Spiders Thread," a story by Ryunosuke Akutagawa 7. Ven. Dhammapalo (Terry Jennings) and Other Recent Deaths
2. "The Hollow Men" a poem by T. S Eliot 8. Our photos of Ban Vinai, the Hmong Refugee Camp, going into the public domain
3. Climate Catastrophe, New thoughts
9. A new ZOOM ESL Class, The Buddha's Eight Great Victories
4. Environment Protection, Playing for Change, The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, and Kawasaki history
10. Distribution of Food During the Economic Crisis in Sri Lanka
5. Equanimity and Gererosity, The Buddha's Teaching "Rope," a poem by Ewen Arnold
6. "How to Transform Sickness and Other Circumstances," a Tibetan prayer and aspiration by Geshe Tokme Zangpo, sent by Ven. Tsundue 12. October 23, a dana and food distribution in honor of Jagath's father, D. K. Wijesiri, Ven. Sumedho, Ven. Nyanaponika, and Ven. Dhammapalo
Epilogue "Asa-meshi mae"!


Many years ago we read a powerful story by Akutagawa Ryunosuke called "The Spiders Thread," and it stuck with us. The story often came to mind, whenever we saved some critter from the cats or from being stepped on. The number of frogs, spiders, cockroaches, flies, lightning bugs, caterpillars, snails, leeches, slugs, scorpions, snakes, and more, that we have captured and released outside, is now uncountable. Our houses have always been shared with many others.

In the story, just as a notorious outlaw is about to crush an innocent spider, he changes his mind and lets the creature live. This is the only good deed that that ruthless man performs in his whole violent life. He is reborn in hell, but that one act of kindness offers the potential for his release from that miserable realm, if. . .

The story has a special meaning and a message for us in these mad, cruel days, with so much suffering, so much selfishness, so little compassion, and so little empathy.

Recently, we discovered that Akutagawa based his story on a Buddhist text by Paul Carus, the editor of the well-known The Gospel of Buddha. We have retold the story, combining both versions, and we would like to share it here.

The Spider's Thread

One day, the Buddha surveyed the universe, and, as he peered into the depths of hell, he saw many sinners struggling in the Lake of Blood. These miserable creatures were floating up to the surface and sinking back down again and again. The hell where this lake was located remained in absolute and perpetual darkness. In the distance one could see the Mountain of Needles glowing, but that made the darkness all the more dreadful and increased the feeling of helplessness. Around the lake there was no movement whatsoever, and the only sounds were the faint sighs of the sinners, as they rose to the surface. The sighs were faint because those who had fallen into this hell were too exhausted by the tortures they had already endured to cry out.

In the center of this multitude, there was a being who, in his earthly life, had been Kandata, a fierce murderer, an arsonist, and a master thief, who had lived in a dense forest. No one could remember any instance in which this cruel man had ever shown mercy to any of his victims. With his omniscience, however, the Buddha remembered that, once, as Kandata was trudging through the forest, on his way to his rough hut, he had come upon a spider crawling along the roadside. His first instinct had been to kill the creature, and he raised his foot to crush it. Suddenly, however, he stopped and thought, "This miserable spider is very small, but, actually, it is a living being. It probably wants to live as much as I do. It seems a shame for me to kill it for no reason at all." Kandata had lowered his foot beside the spider, smiled to himself, and gone on his way.

Having recalled this incident, the Buddha sent down a spider on a single thread. When the spider was just a few inches above Kandata's head, it disappeared.

Overjoyed, Kandata eagerly grabbed ahold of the slender thread, hoping with all his might that it would not break. Clinging firmly to the thread, he began climbing hand over hand. Struggling with all his strength, he pulled himself upward. Despite his bulk, the thread gave no sign up breaking but seemed to support his weight easily. Kandata recalled how often he had climbed ropes in the same way during his career as a robber.

Kandata continued climbing for what seemed to him to be a very long time, but he was not yet anywhere near the top. So exhausted that he was sure he could go no further, he decided to rest, but he dared not relax his grip even the slightest bit. Breathing deeply, he allowed himself to glance downward.

He was amazed, but pleased, to see that the Lake of Blood was already hidden at the bottom of the darkness. In the distance he could barely make out the faint glow of the terrifying Mountain of Needles, but he was sure that it no longer posed the slightest threat to him. "If I can continue at this pace," he thought, "I will surely escape forever from hell!" Wrapping his hands even more tightly around the spider's thread, he laughed aloud and cried out in a voice unused during his years in hell, "I'm saved! I'm saved at last!"

Shaking with laughter, he again glanced down to enjoy the sight of hell disappearing. To his horror, he saw that, below him on the spider's thread, just like a line of ants, countless sinners were following him, also climbing higher and higher with all their might. When Kandata realized what was happening, he froze from shock and fear. He hung in mid-air with his mouth agape and his eyes rolling in his head like an idiot. Unable to move a muscle, he began whimpering. "It's not fair! This thread is too weak to sustain all of those fools. It has barely supported my weight. If they continue climbing, it will certainly break, and I will fall back into hell. They must stop. I have struggled too hard to face that disaster!" He looked down again and saw that, not only had many climbed higher, but an even greater horde had grasped the thread and were also struggling upward.

Unable to bear the tension any longer, he loudly shouted, "No! Go back! This is my thread! Get off it! I earned it! You have no right to join me! This slender thread is too weak to hold all of you! You are going to break it!"

At that instant, the spider's thread, which had, until then, shown no weakness whatsoever, suddenly snapped. Everyone, including the selfish Kandata, plummeted downward and plunged back into the Lake of Blood within the depths of the lowest hell.

To this day, the broken fragment of the spider's thread dangles, shimmering in the dark sky above the Lake of Blood, forever out of reach.

(Adapted from "The Spider's Thread," by Ryunosuke Akutagawa and "The Spider's Web" in Karma, A Story of Early Buddhism, by Paul Carus}

As the world descends into a state of ever more brutal and evil madness, we are painfully aware of the hunger, the desperation, the suffering of those afflicted by drought, flood, war, corruption, and persecution. We often feel overwhelmed and powerless, but, recalling this story, we are eager to do as much good as generously and compassionately as we can and to share the merits as widely as possible.

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The state of the world reminds us of a poem. It was written in 1925, but its message resounds loudly today.

The Hollow Men
by T.S. Eliot

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;
Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us-if at all-not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.
* * *
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

You can read the entire poem here:

Here is an excerpt from an excellent summary/analysis of the poem. You can read the entire commentary it at the link below:

"The hollow men live in a dead land--a land spiritually barren and sterile. Instead of worshipping Christ they worship stone images. Spiritual truth are as far from them as a fading star. The hollow men wonder if death's other kingdom-the other world- is also like their own desolate land. Is the life after death similar to the one that the hollow men are leading? Here, they get up and kiss the lips of images they love and worship. How much different the life in the other world will be? Will it be totally different from or similar to the life they are leading? We may sympathize with their lack of knowledge and their desire to continue their present pattern of life in death's other kingdom. How foolish it is to wish that the next life i.e. life after death may be a continuation of their present way of life. They are shocked by the assumption that their routine in the modern life will come to an end when they pass from this life to the next. They are not in a position to reconcile themselves to any life other than the one, which they are leading."

"The Hollow Men is a personal poem. It presents the poet's views on contemporary life. It is a cry of despair unrelieved by hope. Modern civilization, which is the pride of many nations has been shown as negative and lacking all the values of life."

The Hollow Man: by T. S. Eliot - Summary & Analysis

The poem seems to refer to the feckless leaders wielding power in our dismal world-- Presidents Vladmir Putin, Xi Jinping, Paul Biya, and Jair Bolsonaro, Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu, Viktor Orban, and Narendra Modi, Chairman Min Aung Hlaing, Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, ex- Prime Minister Boris Johnson, ex-President Donald Trump, Justice Clarence Thomas, Senator Mitch McConnell, Govenor Ron DeSantis, and almost the entire Republican Party in the U.S., just to name a few. We would also include billionaires, such as Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg, as well as international bankers, weapons manufacturers, pharmaceutical CEOs, and those who enrich themselves by polluting our planet. These "hollow" men and women are leading the world into fascism, devastating wars, a global depression, climate catastrophe, and, ultimately, annihilation.

Like Kandata in "The Spider's Web" the hollow men are devoid of empathy, generosity, or compassion. Not only are they oppressive by nature, but they also begrudge anyone else gaining security, a living wage, health care, education, or benefits. They are gratified when they can deny to those "below" them the fundamental dignity, respect, and freedom to which all humans should be entitled. They cannot tolerate the success of others, let alone be happy for it. Sympathetic joy (mudita) is foreign to them! For others to prosper is cause for anger and spite. Why are so many so possessive of their wealth, their position, and their rights that they feel that they will suffer if anyone else gains even the least little bit? Because they are hollow, they can never say with Elmo: "We can share!"

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We thank David Loy for sharing this image of a modern American Wheel of Life on Facebook two years ago. We have since learned that it originated on a Spanish website, where you can read the explanation, in Spanish, of course:
Click to enlarge
In 2007, we used Al Gore's documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," in our intensive course in Kolkata. Since then, one of the major themes in all of our ESL classes has been climate change. In 2016, we held an "End of the World" Co-opoly party, and one of the themes was "climate crisis." Since 2017, recurring themes in all of these reports have been climate catastrophe, other global disasters, the impending end of civilization, and the devastation of our beautiful planet. In those fifteen years, despite innumerable conferences, agreements, and protocols, nothing has improved. There have been lots of promises and claims, but too many lies and too much greenwashing. In fact, not only has there been no progress to dispel the gloom cast by Al Gore's award-winning film, in every way, the future is only bleaker and more desperate.

Indeed, on September 20, 2022, Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, delivered a moving speech at the opening of the General Assembly in which he outlined the precarious condition of the world today and the impending doom if the leaders of government and industry do not immediately implement radical changes.

An article in MediaLens in July, "Why There Is No Public Sense Of A Climate Crisis," quoted Peter Kalmus, a NASA climate scientist, "It's incredible to me how many people aren't yet terrified by the climate emergency." In the article, the author opines that the root cause is "corporate politics and corporate media . . . a corporate propaganda system maximising profits." There have been few headlines in the mainstream media proclaiming disaster and spurring outrage and calling for action as there so often have been in cases, such as the Iraq wars, the war on terrorism, the NATO attack on Serbia, and the atrocities in Syria. Ironically, these crises created a demand for weapons, and created profits for big business. Thus, the problem can be traced back to predatory capitalism..

Returning to the latest speech by the UN General Secretary, as well as to his speech in April on the climate crisis, every paragraph can be read as a blaring headline:

The world is on a fast track to climate disaster!
Polluters must pay!
Investing in fossil fuels is moral and economic madness!
The world is addicted to fossil fuels!
Inequalities are exploding!
A winter of global discontent is on the horizon!
The world is gridlocked in global dysfunction!
Our planet is burning!
Threats to the future of humanity and the fate of our planet!

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In addition to "An Inconvenient Truth," there have been other documentaries and movies, as well as protests, programs, projects, and movements, highlighting global warming, a.k.a. climate catastrophe. Perhaps not so well-known, is an online event, a concert, which premiered on December 16, 2021. More than 200 artists from 58 countries, along with world leaders and influencers, participated in "Join Playing For Change and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for Peace Through Music: A Global Event for the Environment." This hour-long video seeks to unite the world in taking action for a sustainable future, to advance progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and to amplify the voices of the most left behind, including Indigenous communities, whose knowledge and wisdom can help show us the way forward, but are often unheard. It is narrated by Robbie Robertson and Sir David Attenborough. Halfway through the video (23:47-29:25) is a dramatic rendition of "When the Levee Breaks," a powerful, thought-provoking, and emotionally-charged classic, originally released in 1929 by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie. The song is about the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, the most destructive river flooding in U.S. history. This disaster played an important role in the Kawasaki family history, for when the water rose in Sikeston, Missouri, the Japanese Tearoom was flooded, and Happy and Maggie lost everything. In near desperation, they packed up and headed north, first to Illinois and, finally, to Ohio, where they settled and raised a fine family.

Ken remembers seeing a photo of the Japanese Tearoom in Sikeston in a photo album his mother had, but no one can tell us where that photo is now, This is the earliest photo we have of Ken's parents. It was taken in 1946, more than ten years after the first house in Ohio burned. The eldest son, Ed, was in Germany, and this photo was taken at Christmas to introduce him to his youngest brother, Ken.
For more about the Great 1927 Mississippi Flood

NPR, An interview with John Barry aboout the book

PBS, American Experience, "Fatal Flood"

Representing Environmental Emergency as Social Emergency: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 in Blues Songs from Louisiana and Mississippi, by Stéphanie DENÈVE
(Article in English, but Summary in both French and English)

Arkansas City, AR, flooded by the Mississippi River, April 27, 1927. (NOAA)

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There's a useful expression which we use to encourage ourselves when things look bleak: "No expectations! No disappointments!" This is not an endorsement for indifference, but rather a reminder to face adversity with equanimity, like "a solid rock not shaken by the storm." Looking around us now,

We need to recall these very basic truths of the Buddha:

The Four Dhamma Summaries

The world is swept away. It does not endure.

The world offers no shelter. There is no one in charge.

The world has nothing of its own. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind.

The world is insufficient, insatiable, and a slave to craving.
--Majjhima Nikaya 82

A Time Will Come

A time will come when the ocean will dry up and be no more, but there will be no end of suffering for those who roam and wander, hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving.

A time will come when Mount Meru will burn up and be no more, but there will be no end of suffering for those who roam and wander, hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving.

A time will come when the earth will be devoured by fire and be no more, but there will be no end of suffering for those who roam and wander, hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving.
--Samyutta Nikaya, 22, 99

A Rainless Cloud

The Buddha said, "There are three kinds of persons in the world. What three? One who is like a rainless cloud, one who rains locally, and one who rains everywhere.

"What kind of person is like a rainless cloud? A certain person never gives to anyone. He does not give food, drink, clothing, garlands, incense, medicine, lodging, or lamps to ascetics, the poor, or the needy. This kind of person is like a rainless cloud.

"What kind of person rains locally? A certain person gives to some but not to others. He gives food, drink, clothing, garlands, incense, medicine, lodging, and lamps only to some ascetics and to some of the poor and the needy, but not to others. This kind of person rains locally.

"What kind of person rains everywhere? A certain person gives to all. He gives food, drink, clothing, vehicles, garlands, incense, medicine, lodging, and lamps to all ascetics and to the poor and the needy. This kind of person rains everywhere.

"These are the three kinds of persons in the world."
--Itivuttaka 75

Like the Weaver's Daughter, we should meditate on death, and, now, it truly seems that that means that our concern is not only with our personal death, but with the possibility of the death of the planet within our lifetime. That is a sobering thought.

We want to end our ignorance, to free ourselves from craving, and to live wisely with virtue, compassion, kindness, and generosity. We want to relieve suffering and to spread the liberating teachings. Briefly stated, we want to avoid evil, to do good, and to purify our minds. Our teacher, U Khe Min Da Sayadaw, often told us that we could make aspirations--or, perhaps, we had already made aspirations--such as, to be a Bodhisatta or to be a disciple of a future Buddha. One may not know whether such an aspiration was made in a past life, but it behooves each of us to strive diligently, to ensure that our next life will carry us in the proper direction.

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From Venerable Tsundue, we recently received a lovely meditation, which can be seen as a prayer of aspiration, which we would like to share. We have begun reading it every evening. It is a moving statement of wise equaninimity.

(Click the frame to view it larger.)

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We first met Terry Jennings in Japan at JALT conferences. He was the representative for Prentice Hall Regents. Every year we operated a booth at the conference selling refugee handicraft and distributing information on human rights, refugees, and the struggle for democracy in Burma. Terry visited our booth often, and we enjoyed his company. We learned that he had become interested in Zen Buddhism. One day, he asked how we acquired all the handicraft, and we explained about our annual summer trips to Thailand and the Thai/Burma border. In one of our discussions, he said that he planned to visit Bangkok and suggested we meet there. What a wonderful time we had together! We introduced him to Ven. Assajita and Ven. Dhammagutta at Wat Sraket, and he introduced us to the Duang Pradeep Foundation, which had built an inpiring elementary school in the Klong Toey slum, supported by SVA (The Shanti Volunteer Association of the Japanese Soto-shu).

After leaving Prentice Hall, he moved to Arizona and taught English for a few years before retiring. We kept in touch. In 2016, Terry volunteered to teach in our intensive course in Kandy. He was a wonderflul teacher, and the students loved him. Moreover, he was drawn to Theravada Buddhism.

Shortly after his return to Tucson, he began attending Wat Buddhametta, the Thai Buddhist temple there. Within a short time, he became an active member of the temple staff. We were not suprised when he informed us that he was going to undertake the life-time eight precepts as an Anagarika. In 2020, he accompanied his teacher, Ajahn Sarayut, on a pilgrimage to India and was ordained as a samanera. He received higher ordination as a bhikkhu, Ven. Dhammapalo, in Tucson.

For the last few years, his health was declining. At first, he thought it was only his heart, and he underwent major surgery. At that time, Ewen spent some time with him to help at that difficult period. Then, he was diagnosed with blood cancer, similar to leukemia, and made arrangements for his estate to pass to Wat Buddhametta. Recently, he entered a hospice in Tucson, and Ajahn Sarayut visited him regularly.

Learning of his deteriorating condition, Ven. Tsundue followed her teacher, Lama Zopa's suggestion and undertook a three-month solitary meditation retreat in Nepal for the benefit of all living beings and for Ven. Dhammapalo, in particular. A few weeks ago, Ajahn Sarayut sent us a short video of Ven. Dhammapalo reciting the vows to complete his rains retreat. We were very touched.

Ven. Dhammapalo passed away
peacefully on October 19
Other recent deaths
Ajahn Sinouan, Abbot of the Lao Monastery in Detroit
S. Ramalingam,
Ashoka's brother

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In 1980,we were hired by School for International Training (S.I.T.) as Master Teachers for the Consortium (S.I.T., World Education, and Save the Children) to set up an ESL Program in Thailand for Indochinese refugees. Our first assignment was in Ban Vinai, a camp in Northern Thailand for Hmong refugees from Laos. We worked there for six months before moving to Phanat Nikom, south of Bangkok. While we were in Ban Vinai, we spent many hours, days, and weeks wandering around the camp, usually with Thao Bee Chou, one of the only Hmong in the camp to have completed high school in Laos. He served us as an informant on Hmong culture, explaining everything we saw and making sure that we learned many things that were hidden from most of the staff of the various NGOs working there. Most weekends we stayed in the camp, which was, technically, against the rules. During those six months and our regular visits back to the camp even after we moved to the Philippines, we took thousands of photographs. About ten years ago, we scanned several hundred of the best of those photos and organized them into eleven ten-minute slideshow videos with neither narration nor background music and posted them on YouTube.

We described them as simply a walk through Ban Vinai, allowing a glimpse of Hmong life and culture. Every few months, from the very beginning, we have received a short message from a Hmong, thanking us for the videos and asking for a copy of one or more of the photos of a relative. On our YouTube website, a DVD of all the slideshows and individual files of all the photos is available, and we have sold a few.

A few weeks ago, we received a letter from a young Hmong who requested two photographs of his grandmother, who had passed away ten years ago. At the same time, his brother-in-law, who is not Hmong, purchased a copy of the DVD. As soon as he had received the DVD, he wrote to us, thanking us for the photos and asking whether we had ever considered releasing them in the public domain. We had never thought about this and had no idea how to go about it. He volunteered to handle everything, and within two days, the job was completed. Amazing! Thank you, Matt!

All 570 photos are now available on Wikimedia Commons at <>

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Menusha is staying with us.
Click each image to view larger.
Shortly after the beginnning of the Covid-19 Pandemic in March 2020, we suspended all of our classes, and we have stayed home in almost complete isolation ever since. We go out only for banking and essential shopping. We have had very few visitors, and, usually, we meet friends outside in what has been termed the "waiting room" under the carport. A couple of weeks ago, six Burmese students visited us, bringing delicious delicacies, including laphet and pe bouk. After a pleasant chat, catching up on news of Myanmar and the University, they finally broached the subject that they had, obviously, been thinking about from the start. They told us that many students were eager for a class, and they suggested we begin a ZOOM reading class, perhaps, with the Jatakas. We thought about it for a few seconds and agreed. We suggested using our new book, The Buddha's Eight Great Victories, which contains the stories of the Jayamangala Gatha.

That afternoon, we checked online and learned that opening a ZOOM account to "host" the class would be quite expensive. We sent a message to Ven. Silacara, the group's spokesman, and he immeditately responded that the students already had an account and that he would make all the arrangements. Within a few days, he had collected more than twenty-five students and sent us all the names and email addresses. How efficient! We will begin the course on November 4 and will meet for one hour every week for two months. Frankly, we're delighted at the prospect of teaching again. Thank you, everyone!

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Distribution of Food During the Economic Crisis in Sri Lanka

12 September 2022
Food crisis in Sri Lanka likely to worsen amid poor agricultural production, price spikes and ongoing economic crisis, FAO and WFP warn
30 percent of the population are experiencing acute food insecurity and will likely deteriorate further unless urgent assistance is provided.

COLOMBO – An estimated 6.3 million people in Sri Lanka are facing moderate to severe acute food insecurity and their situation is expected to worsen if adequate life-saving assistance and livelihood support is not provided, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today in a new report.

We are grateful that so many donations have come in to allow the distribution of food to needy families and institutions. These flyers describe some of our projects. The need is great, but we depend on continued donations.

Sadhu! Sadhu!! Sadhu!!! to all our donors.

Click each flyer to view it larger as a PDF, or
click HERE to open a PDF with all the flyers.
For general distribution
For the Commmunity Kitchen
For Lunch Packets
for Cancer Paatients

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by Ewen Arnold
I open the boot.
I take out the rope, test it again.
I'm sure it's strong enough for the job.
I stuff it back into the bag, just in case,
but there's no one about,
not at this time in the morning

That'll learn her.
She can't threaten me any more.
I'll do it first.
That'll teach all the others:
the kids at school,
the man who abused me,
my boss.

I've selected the tree,
when I was walking here last weekend.
It's just the right height.
All I have to do is move the bench,
make sure I can kick it over.

It's really muddy.
Why am I wearing my black leather shoes?
I should be wearing my work boots,
but then she might have suspected.

What? what?
I've never seen anyone sitting on the bench
at this time of day before.
What's she doing there?
This is crazy.

There's an old woman sitting on the bench.
There's only one path in, and the same one out.
I'll have to sit next to her, and get rid of her.
Look nonchalant.

She looks up and motions with her hand.
I sit next to her.
I bet she's gonna start talking.
And then, for some reason I open my mouth.
I never could trust it.
Do you come here often?

What an incredibly stupid thing to say!
Yes, she says. Her voice quiet, almost inaudible
I come here and think of my husband.
Oh my God! A sob story. Just what I don't need.
He died 10 years ago.

We sit in silence.
I'm not gonna look at her.
I'm not going to make eye contact.
I know she's looking at me.

Time passes. It seems like ages.
I look up. She looks so kind and gentle.
And those eyes. I've never seen eyes like that before.
So much love. Blue skies.

She holds out her hands.
My hands move of their own accord.
She takes them.
It's alright. Everything is alright.
She's holding my eyes the way she's holding my hands.

Time passes.
I start crying. And then sobbing.
She draws me into her and hugs me
So much love flowing in her, in me.
I know. I know. She says. I know.

Time passes.
I have no idea how long we've been here.
I know. She says, eventually, and loosens the embrace.
You can leave that here. She says.
I get up and leave the bag behind
As I walk away, I turn back.
She's still sitting there, smiling.

It's now a month later.
I'm sitting on the bench again, waiting for her.
I know she won't come.
Who was she?
What was she?
Whatever happened to her husband?

I just hope anyone who is in the same state I was in
finds her, or someone like her.
Or maybe she will find them.
Or maybe I am now her.
I just don't know how it works.
And as for my marriage, ah, that's another story.

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In September, Jagath informed us that he was planning a three-month dana after his father's death and that he wanted it also to honor Ven. Sumedho, for whom both he and his father (as well as his grandfather) had served as attendants. Of course, he did not expect that we would attend, but we were happy to offer Lily's famous pineapple curry and a box of incense for each of the twelve monks invited. The date was set for October 19. When Jagath wrote about the dana to Bhikkhu Bodhi, who had been very close to Ven. Sumedho, Bhikkhu Bodhi replied that that was the same date that Ven.Nyanaponika, Bhikkhu Bodhi's teacher and one of the founders of Buddhist Publication Society, had passed away. Jagath immediately decided to include that Venerable Mahathero, as well. As the time drew near, Jagath informed us that the monks he had invited were holding a Kathina (End-of vassa) ceremony on the nineteenth and that the date had been changed to Sunday, October 23. Then, on October 19, Ven. Dhammapalo passed away, and we asked Jagath to include him in the ceremony. As part of the dana, Buddhist Relief Mission provided fifteen parcels of dry rations which Jagath distributed to needy families in Halloluwa. Sadhu! Sadhu!! Sadhu!!!

Jagath, Ven. Sumedho, and Jagath's father, D. K. Wijesiri (D. K. Wijesiri, d. July 19, 2022; Ven. Sumedho, d. December 21, 2006) Ven. Nyanaponika
d. October 19, 1994
Ven. Dhanmmapalo
d. October 19, 2022

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The Japanese have a saying, "Asa-meshi mae," which literally means "before breakfast." The phrase is used to indicate that something is very easily accomplished. We like to include the notion that the task or accomplishment is also auspicious. Yesterday morning, just after we woke up, Lily announced that there was a man at the gate. He was missing one hand and was asking for food. Lily told us that she had an extra five-kilo bag of rice and asked whether she could give it to him. We replied, "Of course!" and gave her some money to give him as well. What a wonderful way to begin the day! Asa-meshi mae!

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Every day, Lily places flowers on our Buddha altar. This is her offering on October 27, 2022.

Buddhist Relief Mission