As a Buddhist Monk collecting alms in Kauai, USA for the past 4 months, the results are in. On Tuesday and Wednesdays as shown on the map above, I collect my food, wishing loving-kindness to one side of the street at a time. So how many houses have given food at least once? About 18 people from different houses have given me food at least once. About 4 or 5 cars have given to me, but they are not included in the 18 number. This also includes two businesses which support me from time to time and one person at the bakery.. It does not include the one person who tried to give me money and another person who took the time to thank me for what I have been doing. I have also been offered an opportunity to work in a garden to get my food too, but kindly opted out.
The problem is consistency. In Myanmar, if one house sees you on the road, they call out to the other neighbors to let them know the monk has come. In Hawaii, everyone is in their house doing this or that and they need to see me in order to give food. That is why I stand there for about 30 seconds to a minute wishing loving-kindness. It gives them time to look at the window and see a monk outside. In the end, it can be a challenge to build up an alms practice without a back up. Below are Tuesday and Wednesday’s gains plus a cup of Chai from Trilogy. If one of the owner’s sees me around, I can usually get a cup of Chai.
Above is Tuesday’s Gains.
Above is Cup of Turmeric Chai from Wednesday’s Gains1
I have been doing quite well respectively, but still, there is not enough for full independence on those who subsidize my alms bowl. Never the less as you can see things have been getting better. I can get a can of organic soup and a nonGMO health bar from The North Shore Pharmacy courtesy of the owner. I also have a new connection with the local Health Food store, but have not successfully tried it yet. If that works, I will be on the road to independence. Luckily my long time friend who lives on Aalona street prepares extra food for me as needed. Today I had some oats and a salad from him. It was not just a small salad either. It was a whole bowl to feed a family of five. Below is a picture.
If I really need it, I have a Subway sandwich ticket waiting for me at the local Subway shop. I usually take one every two or three weeks when my friend is not available to give me oats and salads. They know me at the Subway shop and the ticket for a vegi-patty Sub is now waiting for me to claim it. The subs will soon be replaced by the generosity of the owners from the local health food store if communication is correct.
So I do get fed, and yes, sometimes quite well, but not from alms alone. It is not so easy though. I started a little before 8am and got back at 1:30 pm today. I do my work to get the food, and I teach along the way. Today I gave a small Dhamma talk to someone at the Coffee shop who recently lost two of his closest people within this past month. I told him of the story of Kisa Gotami which is famous for those who are mourning the deaths of loved ones. It is familiar because of a mother whale who has been famous in the media for not relinquishing her dead calf. Interacting with the locals while collecting food made my day very fulfilling.. and the food was filling too. I have never gone hungry and many times miracles happen when there looks like I might not get enough. I trust in the vinaya (monks’ rules) and it supports me.
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