Sinlaku, sinlaku, you will always be my first! My first typhoon that is. Taiwan’s weather is going to be interesting. A few days ago I felt a small earthquake. I asked my room mate whether there really was an earthquake or whether I dreamed. He confirmed that there indeed had been an earthquake. He said I would probably feel 4 or 5 of those during my time in Taiwan. Now people are bracing for Sinlaku. I’m not worried. Dharma Drum Mountain seems pretty stable. But I’ve had to cancel plans to go to Taipei this weekend. So now it is wind and rain for the entire weekend. Thanks Sinlaku!
I am quite impressed with the degree of environmental awareness evident at Dharma Drum Mountain. Signs are displayed to remind people to turn off electric appliances which are not in use, to recycle, to minimize water consumption, etc. I was particularly happy to notice that rooms have independent heating and cooling controls. In this way, it is possible to minimize the use of heating and cooling to use only what is needed. For sure more could be done but it is still much better than what is going on at UVA. Because many of UVA’s buildings are older, there is no way to fine tune the delivery of warm or cold air so a good deal of energy is wasted conditioning rooms while they are not used.
At Dharma Drum Mountain, communal meals are provided by the monastics. So the food is prepared in accordance with monastic rules. It’s two salient features are that it is vegetarian and does not contain ingredients likely to incite passions (like garlic or onions). I have mentioned before that people warned me that the food would be bland. Still, I find it to my liking. One colleague who asked for my opinion about the food looked surprised when I told him I liked it. I’m not sure whether it is because he does not like it or because he did not think someone like me (i.e. a Westerner who has come to Taiwan for the first time) would like that kind of food.
I’ve arrived at Dharma Drum Buddhist College (法鼓佛教學院) in Taipei County in Taiwan on September 2nd in the evening. After three days here I think I’m getting over the jet lag. Yesterday was the worst. I napped three times during the day, went to bed really early and got up really early this morning. But I have not taken a nap today and I should be able to go to bed at a normal hour tonight.
I have to say that everybody here has been really kind and helpful. Especially Youru and Hsiu-Lan. They have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome at Dharma Drum. The place itself is also quite nice. The architecture and landscaping are delightful. People warned me that the food provided to the staff and guests is on the bland side but I find it tasty in its own subtle way.
There is more to say but the jet lag, while mostly gone, is still affecting me so I’m heading for bed now.
(Published some 9 hours after I wrote it. Oops.)