monk with a huge head far too big for his body greeted me at the
front of the darkened monastery. I told him I had come to see
Bhante. The monk furiously pounded on a door to a room and shouted
in to it. Slowly it opened. What I then saw stoked me to no end.
This old and frail-looking monk with a serene look on his face
came shuffling out and I could see a soft kind of halo shining
above him. Was this finally IT? Was this the guy who was talking
to me in my dreams? Bhante sat down and smiled. " Well, hello.
How are you? Did you have a pleasant drive? Please sit down. "
He said. I remained kind of speechless. Bhante sat down and smiled
again. " I've been waiting for you. I couldn't sleep until
I was sure you were here. " It all felt so perfectly familiar.
I had at last found my real refuge.
was not only in my refuge. I was in a totally new world. I had
somehow fallen through a trap-door into Cambodia. I was surrounded
by refugees who barely could speak English. But in a strange
way it didn't matter. Communication was not a problem. It just
wasn't. Bhante then assigned this bald crone to prepare my meals
and just be my mother. I pitched my tent outside his room and
soon became part of his family. It felt pretty good. I wasn't
alone anymore. I was now at home.
was cool. I mean he was so humble. Unlike those stern Burmese
masters, Bhante ate with me at the same time and at the same
table. I was baffled by the way he treated me so well. What
was the karmic connection? I just didn't know. I really didn't.
I then learned that Bhante was over a hundred and four years
old. But he looked like he was in his seventies. He also spoke
six languages. It blew me away. Bhante had lived in India for
many years and had been a friend of both Ghandi and Nehru. They
helped him set up a monastery in New Delhi. Bhante had also
known Mountbatten and his wife. In England, he had gotten to
know Alan Watts and Edward Bennet, one of Gurdieff's main disciples.
In America Bhante was introduced to T.D. Suzuki and President
Eisenhower. Prince Siahounk was a friend of Bhante's. The Dalai
Lama too. George Lucas had Bhante filmed for three days and
got Yoda out of it. Now you know.
this time I couldn't understand what Bhante saw in me. Bhante
told me to stay as long as I wanted. I was stoked. I really
was. It was such a hit just to be around Bhante too. There was
something holy about him. Something really pure and beautiful.
I would lie inside my tent and just bathe in the holy glow coming
out of Bhante's room. His glow and the warm summer months of
California's central valley were as close as I have ever came
to being truly in heaven. It was so blissful. I mean nobody
really expected anything from me and I was treated with such
kindness and good care. But there was a lot more coming.
lived in this dilapidated old house with a huge field behind
it. The hot Stockton sun had turned the grass into dry yellow
hay. Yeah, I was in Cambodia. There were dirt and fruity smells
in the house. Strange dark faces peered behind the wooden doors
to look at the American stranger. Old crones just kept on rocking
on the matted floors with all kinds of activities. They peeled
fruit, sewed clothes, and chewed this red paste that turned
their teeth black. They smiled at me whenever their eyes met
mine. It was all kind of unbelievable. It was magic.
altar in the shrine-room was dense. It had a golden Buddha and
blinking neon lights. American flags and all kinds of candles
and little animal statues screamed for my attention. It was
a colorful scene. It wasn't a bleak place like the Burmese joint.
I was really taken by the lingo I heard here. It had a sing-song
quality to it. When the monks chanted early in the morning it
all sounded moogy and lunar. It all seemed like a wonderful
dream. But beneath the smiles I saw a boiling temper. The Khmers
were fierce warriors and I felt Bhante was a little leery of
Cambodians were in exile and nasty karma was following them
to Stockton. One of the young monks had been a gangster. I called
him the monkster. This guy had been a leader of a gang in Long
Beach and let me tell you it was brutal. Killings simply went
on everyday. Between rival Cambodian gangs and between them
and the Mexicans. All this shit was going on in Stockton too.
There was just no end to it.
after lunch, Bhante and I talked in his room. This itself was
a huge privilege. Not just anybody was allowed inside his private
sanctuary. Bhante's room had a personal alter covered with psychic
layers of his living and praying. Letters and papers were strewn
all over the floor. A bookcase filled with all kinds of books
stood to the right of the alter. Bhante was a healer and he
talked a lot about the power of color. He felt colors could
heal both the body and mind. Bhante's favorite color was green.
Bhante said it was good for any kind of illness. Green kind
of grew on you like a tree. Yellow depressed you and blue kind
of cooled you. While red over-loaded your nervous system.
people would come for the water blessing. Bhante would stick
some candles onto a silver water bowl and pray to it. While
he prayed he would swish the water around with a stick and spray
water on the people around him. It was kind of like a Buddhist
baptism. After it was all over, people would put the water into
bottles and cart the precious stuff away. I still have a bottle
of this holy water in the trunk of my car. I rarely drink it.
I think it's just too valuable.
felt that our bodies were matter and that mind was like spirit.
Nibbana was pure spirit. It was eternal. There was no death
nor birth there, really. Bhante emphasized the idea that it
was important to just practice and not talk about the things
you didn't know anything about. Bhante always said: " Don't
be angry. It just kills the body. Remember, you are the problem
and the solution. " I was sure stoked.
weird guy from Alaska showed up one day with his half-Eskimo
son. This guy claimed he was a Sufi. And he was going to Russia
to find some work there as a librarian. It seemed that he met
Bhante in Alaska and had been taught the color healing stuff.
I noticed on the window sill of Bhante's room many different
colored bottles filled up with water. The Alaska Sufi said it
was important that the colors get absorbed into the water with
the sun's healing rays. He also said that the water was for
the benefit of the people coming for the healing. Bhante didn't
really need the water. I mean, he did everything with his mind
from whatever distance that was required. The sick person didn't
even really need to be in Bhante's presence. Now that was pretty