I remember when I was living in Kaua’i in a tent propped up in the corner of my friend Uncle Gene Taylor’s property. I had just come home from my daily alms round and I popped into his room to say hello. He is old and has difficulty walking, yet he is usually quite cheerful. As part of the visit routine, he asked me how my day was and I smiled and happily said, “Today was a great day. I got enough food today.” I always get enough food, but that day, it was a little easier.
Uncle Gene started to laugh. It wasn’t just just a chuckle or a “That was funny” type of laugh. It was a full-on belt-out belly-laugh, with his head arched back facing the ceiling and his eyes squinting nearly closed.
What I said was not meant to be funny, so after his laughing session was finished, I asked him what was so funny . He told me, “All you need… (chuckle)… All you need is food in your bowl and a place to sleep and your day is good! That is all you have to worry about! ” After he said that, he smiled with a smaller residual chuckle from the inertia of the previous session.
My life has been so simple for so long that I sometimes forget how unique and special my life really is. However, in these Covid-19 times, I think of how simple my life is again and feel so grateful. Because I live a very simple life, very little has changed. All I need is food in my bowl and a place to stay.
I wish you all well and perhaps this can be a comfort in times that are uncertain. Below is a picture of the wooden lunch bell at Pa-Auk Forest Monastery. It can be heard from very far away. Although being homeless is another name to describe the monk life, I live in a monastery with an assigned meditation hut (kuti) I can use while I stay here. In this particular monastery, we have food arranged by kitchen staff instead of needing to go out into the village each day. The food is good and life is simple. Kaua’i is just not possible right now but I still miss the island and its people dearly.