Toothpaste In A Gated Community

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My near-empty tube of Meswak next to the new one

At Pa-Auk, we get different items throughout the year. Sometimes we keep them, and sometimes we give them away. I usually give my extra items away quickly so I don’t end up with a private Walmart inside my kuti. However, I do plan ahead sometimes.

I prefer using strong fluoride toothpaste after lunch and then using a natural toothpaste in the evening after our 5 pm juice offering. To my surprise, I had given away my last tube of tube of Sri Lankan “Supirivicky” to a friend thinking I had another tube of Meswak in queue, but I didn’t. I was fresh out.

I let the word out to three or so monks a few days ago that I was looking for a tube Meswak because I remembered that a tube was offered individually to each monk a while back, but it might have been as long as a year ago. Because time flies in a monastery, it seems like yesterday. Today, a monk came up to me with his hand inside his shoulder bag and pulled out a new tube of Meswak.

This is one of the joys of living in a “gated community” with nice people. It does not matter where you are or the problems outside. What matters the most is the people you surround yourself with. The Myanmar people say Mingalabar as a way to say “Hello.”

“Mingalabar” is really a rough pronunciation of the Pāḷi word Maṅgala, taken from the Maṅgala Sutta. When they say “Hello”, they are really saying, “May you get the blessings listed in the Maṅgala Sutta“. The first verse is seen below:

“Asevanā ca bālānaṁ, paṇḍitānañ-ca sevanā,
“Not associating with fools, but associating with the wise,

pūjā ca pūjanīyānaṁ: etaṁ maṅgalam-uttamaṁ.
honouring those worthy of honour: this is the supreme blessing. [2]

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