Amidst parrots and kangaroos

Saturday, 17 August 2019 01:49 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Meeting Ajahn Brahm (Brahmavamso) is always a treat. He is so friendly, simple and willing to chat. 

Though a busy traveller holding meditation retreats in numerous countries, during the ‘vas’ season Ajahn does not get about. He spends time at the monastery in Serpentine, 55 kilometres southeast of Perth, the capital of Western Australia. He meets devotees who bring alms, particularly over the weekend, inquires as to how they are getting on and discusses the Dhamma with them.

We were fortunate in being able to meet him last Sunday – just after his 67th birthday – at the monastery when a fairly big crowd took part in offering alms. He led the fellow monks – almost 20 – in accepting the ‘dana’ (only rice is offered by persons standing in a queue) and had a few words with almost every family. 

After that the monks moved into the alms hall to serve other food. They then went up to the first floor followed by the devotees to receive merit and hear the monks chanting ‘pirith’. They get back allowing the monks to consume the alms. 

Colourful parrots and kangaroos amidst the trees are a common sight. They are well disciplined and even if they come towards the open area where laymen have their meals, they are not a nuisance. No sooner I went up to pay homage, Ajahn Brahm straightaway asked me what my next article is about. How he remembered, I wondered. 

Incidentally, when he first came to Sri Lanka I interviewed him and the article appeared in the Sunday Times. Someone had shown it to Ajahn Brahm and the next time I met him at the Dhammaloka City Centre of the Buddhist Association of Western Australia (BSWA), he started calling me ‘Sunday Times’. By the time I moved to Perth he had started calling me ‘DC’.   

I recall how when I read his ‘Good? Bad? Who knows?’ and sought his permission to do the Sinhala version of the book, he had no hesitation in agreeing. Whenever Ajahn met me he used to ask me whether I had finished the translation. 

When I told Ajahn that though it looked an easy job once I started it wasn’t that simple, Ajahn told me not to worry about a word to word translation. “DC you know my style – so don’t worry, just carry on,” Ajahn said. 

When friends saw the English book autographed by Ajahn they used to plead with me and get copies. Once I started getting fresh copies signed, Ajahn wrote in a copy ‘To D.C. and only D.C. NOT TO BE GIVEN AWAY by order of and With Megha Metta from……’ and signed and gave me. 

The monastery is situated in an extensive space of land surrounded by greenery. The monks stay in ‘kutis’ amidst trees, each ‘kuti’ away from the other. After the ‘dana’ they get back to the ‘kuti’ and spend the time meditating and studying the Dhamma. 

A little beyond the monastery is the Jhana Grove Meditation Centre where regular retreats and meditation programs are held for lay persons.