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First encounter …

I think I am high. My eyes and ears are absorbing everything happening around me. And I am high.

Yesterday evening I arrived to Sakyadhita Thilashin Nunnery School in Sagaing Town, Myanmar.  I was shown in to a room where the abbot nun, two of her teachers, one nun that speaks English and a few other nuns were waiting. Suddenly it all became so real and serious. There are a lot o bowing, hands together in a grateful gesture, more bowing, curious looks, even a bit suspicious looks. On the bus to the nunnery I did some reading about Buddhism and one text said “don’t expect anything and you wont be disappointed”. Sitting there in front of them, looking at the suspicious faces I decided not to make them disappointed.

Still it didn’t take me long before I had made the first mistake. I had bought some local sweets I wanted to gift them with. Politely I asked if I could get something from my bag, yes, so I go there, open my bag and get the package, happy going back to abbot nun and in Chinese manner give it to her with both hands. No, not the right way to do it. I should have given it to one of the nuns which would have put it on a tray and let the abbot nun take it from the tray.

Ok, no giving straight to a superior nun and always keep head lower than the superiors.

Abbot nun is also called grandma. She asks me how long I am staying, I ask for one week, she says ok. Have I eaten, no I say, but You have already eaten so I will wait until you eat. I say I want to be treated like one of them. No favours. Am I sure they ask. Absolutely. But still I am not allowed to join them for morning prayers at 4 AM. I can come for breakfast at 5.30. And still they make me fresh orange juice to drink. Tastes heavenly.

It is dark and the English speaking nun takes me to my room. It is spacious, one big and two smaller beds, one bathroom with toilet, basin, and there is actually possibilities of hot water. I am in heaven.

I thank her for the help and ask if it’s ok take a walk around the premises. Outside it’s cool. Haven’t felt this sort of coolness since, I can’t remember when. I just stand there, enjoy the fresh air and listen. The schedule says it is study time. And indeed it is. Nuns chanting here and there. It is pitch dark, the only thing I see are the nuns through the big open doors, their silhouettes. And I stand there. Listen to the music. I don’t understand the words but the melody is calming.

Back in my room. I am too tired to do anything. I am too tired to sleep. The bed is simple. Planks and a thin cover. It is simple. I don’t mind. I have somewhere to sleep. It is clean and smells nice. If they can, I can.

All is good.