Just about every Wednesday, I still find the time to continue with my Kilauea alms round1 (which used to include Tuesdays too). I take a one hour bus ride from Lihue, and then set out on my alms round, wishing loving-kindness to the houses one by one as I walk along the road.
In the beginning people thought I was some weird homeless person who might be crazy, but after some time, some fearless people spoke to me and then word started spreading. “He’s okay, he is just blessing homes.” Then it took a little longer for people to figure out the food part too.
One day, and early on, I was told to leave a certain street by a “local” who lived there. Normally, I ignore such global requests but respect their request and skip that particular house later on. However, since this was the second “local” house on this street to say this, I moved on. The next week, I chose a new road and on the very first day this lovely family started to feed me.
The daughter’s name is Koral and she inspires me. Why? She loves to give and when she sees me she says, “Buddha!,” or “Bhante!” and then says, “Yum yum.” That means food, and in this case, food for giving. After her parents lift her up to put food in my bowl, she continues and says, “Mas yum yum.” She is learning Spanish from her father and that means, “She wants more food to give to Bhante.” Now when I say, “I don’t remember getting one single item from that family,” it is because I don’t remember Koral stopping with only one item. In Asia, people give what they like themselves. Koral has sometimes dropped baby food in my bowl too!
It inspires me because the way the family gives to me is exactly the same way families give alms in Asian Countries2. Before making this post, I have sent this picture to many of my monk friends back in Asia. I have also showed this picture to my Asian supporters on the Island. Everyone gets inspired from this.
It is strange that one can naturally do the same thing that is done in Asia without knowing what is done there. Past life habitual kamma is the only answer. It inspires me and I feel it is my duty to go to their house at least once per week. Below is the cover photo from my other website3. It shows a scene from a video4 of a family giving alms in Sri Lanka. You can see that it all is the same, depending on how old the children are.
As one who has grown up in the West, I have never had the chance to give to monks at a young age. Seeds definitely get planted similar to a mother tongue. We can learn languages, but nothing compares to our mother tongue. Because I missed such an upbringing for myself, I make it a point to share this opportunity with the young ones growing up in the West today.
Just this past Wednesday, I saw the mother after my alms and while I was finishing my meal in the village and we spoke for a little while. She said that she appreciates what I do because Koral likes to give and it brings the family together for the blessing. While I am giving the blessing, I usually close my eyes. When I open my eyes, there is always a delay for the family to open their closed eyes. I see them all smiling and enjoying the moment with the mother’s head cuddled up upon her husband’s shoulder. After they opened their eyes, I asked if I could take a picture and that is what you see here.
This inspires me, and I am happy to share this you.