Knowledge of Microphones, Knowledge of Meaning
The last two patimokkha recitations have been clear sounding without feedback (except when they were playing with the controls). All is due to my recent arrangement for a proper microphone. This makes me very happy and I can rejoice in my efforts when we have our meeting on the new and full moons. I learned about microphones from a monk at my Amaravati visit last year and a professional DJ/ambient music composer who visited Pa-Auk last April. I found out it is not how much the microphone costs, but the type of microphone one gets. It took quite a while to arrange, but it all worked out in the end! I have arranged for another microphone already. I think I will arrive in November.
The donor is my personal friend from Nepal who used to be a monk with me at Pa-Auk during the early days. He also moved to Nauyana in 2007 shortly after I arrived, when many of us had visa problems in Myanmar. He disrobed shortly after that, and is now married, and living in Australia.
He once told me he was the only monk in Nepal who did not use money and the "regular Nepalese monks" would get angry at him for following the patimokkha rules..ie. refusing money donations. The monks would get angry at him because it teaches the lay people that such things are wrong, and it threatens future donations to the other monks' ways of wrong livelihood.
In 2008, I was planning for a short visit to America. I needed to prearrange a place to stay not far from Hartford, CT. I did not consider staying at a Theravada Temple, which was very close to my parent's house because the Theravada monks of that temple used money. When they do that, the whole place easily becomes unallowable, "Even the floor you walk on," say my teachers.
I considered going to Chaung Yen Monastery in Carmel, NY (baus.org) since Mahayana rules do not affect Theravada rules, or, "The floor you walk on." However, the Theravada bhikkhu who was living there warned me via email that that little red envelopes (with money) are sometimes passed out to each monk during the meal. With that in mind, I opted for my grandmother's empty Niantic beach house one hour away instead with an Australian Mahathera friend of mine. It was sort of fun too, since we lived alone without money or "live-in helpers helpers," using the local super market for our alms food.
During my time at Nauyana, in 2007, I was learning about a glitch in my ordination. All the different Mahatheras (senior monks) said it was "No Problem" and "Still valid" but each Mahathera gave different or conflicting reasons from the other top Mahatheras. At that time, my Nepal monastic friend decided to drop down to a novice monk from bhikkhu. He was nearly at the end of the line again and sat down on a lower section in front of me instead of next to me on the higher section.
When I saw this, I asked him, "Why?"
He said, "Did we ordain to get better food and a better seat?"
It was difficult to argue with that, because hopefully nobody ordains for those reasons. However, those words stuck in my mind and I decided that there was nothing justifiable to really hold on to with my six year old ordination and that starting all over again would fix any worries I had.
Those words were the tipping point that pushed me to decide to re-ordain again, which would cause me to have a lower seat and with less of a choice for food, of course.
Although it was a setback, I had benefitted greatly, capturing a little bit of a "beginner's mind" again.
It was a time I remember well and much change happened then.
I was happy to have my lay Nepal friend arrange this microphone because he really knows what the patimokkha rules are all about. Knowledge is essential to gain triple rooted kamma and results when making donations. The Patimokkha rules were always in his heart and I wish him well. He also knows what two hours of bad sound and Jimi Hendrix™ feedback loops are like too 🙂
I wish my friend continued associations with sangha.