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Sun Apr 30, 2017, 02:26 PM

The Compassion Files: The Ugly American

Last edited Sun Apr 30, 2017, 06:22 PM - Edit history (2)

I have been interested in Buddhism at different times in my live for the past 25 years. I've never been able to quite immerse myself in the practice. There is always something that pulls me away.

About 12 years ago I was interested enough in Buddhism to go to a temple in my former hometown. I looked up a place that was in the suburbs. It was more of a large house than a traditional temple or monastery. I contacted the monks there. There were two of them from Thailand and they mainly served the Thai community there in Dayton, Ohio. I asked them if it was okay to drop by one evening and speak with them and they said that was okay.

I entered the place and it was just like a large bi-level house. It was very clean and sparsely decorated aside from a shrine dedicated to the monks' guru who was back in Thailand. They gave me a pamphlet and asked me to meditate with them. I agreed to and we sat for about 15 minutes. I can't get into the lotus position so I sat easy style. Even then my feet fell asleep. When the session was over, I stuck my feet out in front of me toward one of the monks and stretched and massaged them. The monks both started laughing and asked me if my feet were asleep. I told them they were.

They invited me to come back and join a service that they held for western practitioners. I did and it was a very nice service. There were about ten westerners there and a few Thai people. We all mediated together and then socialized for a bit afterward. One of the monks pulled me aside and took me downstairs. We sat and talked for a little bit as he gave me some basic instruction. At that time it occurred to me to ask a question I should have asked when I first met the monks.

I said, "Are there any cultural things that I should be aware of while I'm here," thinking that I did not want to do anything to disrespect the monks or the other people there.

He said, "Yes. Please do not point the bottom of your feet at anyone while you are here. It is very offensive in our culture."

I remembered the other night when I had done just that and was mortified. I apologized to the monk saying that I had been ignorant of the custom. He said he understood at the time that I didn't know.

I was the first one to leave that evening and in my haste to get out of the parking lot I backed into a Thai woman's car and scraped it up. I was so embarrassed by that evening that I never went back to the temple.

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Reply The Compassion Files: The Ugly American (Original post)
Tobin S. Apr 2017 OP
WhiteTara Apr 2017 #1
randr Apr 2017 #2

Response to Tobin S. (Original post)

Sun Apr 30, 2017, 03:08 PM

1. I have been studying with a Tibetan Geshe for the

past several years. The main thing is to make good friends with your cushion and sit on it daily...or chair (whichever allows you to sit.) Good luck!

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Response to Tobin S. (Original post)

Sun Apr 30, 2017, 03:40 PM

2. The monks you met were probably sadder that you did not come back

than for any perceived offense you think you might have made. The fact that you asked the proper question and were directly answered is of import.

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