A few random thoughts about my time at Dharma Drum Mountain…
Once in a while a meal at DDM turns out to be challenge. The only implements I use for eating are one metal bowl and one set of metal chopsticks. Now consider that all the food primarily goes into the bowl and that some food is soft, some hard, some heavy, etc. So sometimes the question which runs through my mind as I see what I have to put in my bowl is “how on earth am I going to organize all the food items to prevent ending up with some unappealing mush?” Then there is the small matter of handling the chopsticks. I can handle chopsticks fine as long as the food in my bowl is relatively thick. Otherwise, I’m having a hard time. So I’ve started using some bigger chunks of food as tools to corral those bits which are too small for handling. And half of the time, I wonder if my way of eating looks barbarous to others.
Last week, I was introduced to a scholar with whom I communicated by email when I was planning to come to Taiwan. Now the embarrassing thing is that when I was introduced to her last week, I did not recognize her name. If she recognized my name, I must have passed for quite an idiot.
I’ve started meditating in the Buddha Hall on the 7th floor of the dormitory. In that hall, they use square cushions in place of zafus. But I’ve seen (and used) zafus in other halls. I don’t know why those on the 7th floor are square. I’ve received instruction but so far it has covered only the basics of meditation: posture, breathing, etc. A few people have said I should go to the seven-day retreat at the end of the semester. We’ll see how it goes.
Yesterday I was trying to speak Mandarin with my roommate. I said “sometimes the coffee lounge is quite noisy”. He looked surprised and asked me to repeat. So I repeated. He looked like I was speaking nonsense. So I repeated in English what I meant. Apparently, my Mandarin was so bad that I said something like “sometimes the coffee lounge is quite moist.”
Trying to buy things in Jinshan, Taipei and Taoyuan has been quite an ordeal. It seems that stores never have what I need. I wanted pants for meditation and for exercising. I ended up buying some pants but they were less than perfect. I also wanted a mug with a cover but the only thing I found was a metal cup. It is okay but again not perfect.