The Countryside of Chithurst

Reflections of Buddhist monastic life in England

Two old English Ladies

Posted by phrajew บน มิถุนายน 23, 2006

 

Few days ago, there were two elder ladies come to our monastery.  I met them while I was saying goodbye to my friends who are coming to visit.  One of the ladies in her sky blue dress, carrying a plastic bag, asked me if she could put the bag in the kitchen.  Noticed that it was a bag of vegetable, I said yes and thought that they might be someone who are familiar to the monastery and come to visit some monks here.

However, it turned out later that I was very wrong. 

 

 

In Thai culture, we tend to respect the elders. Finding elder ladies who come to visit in a joyful mood seemed to be something that Thai people are fond of.  It was lovely to see those elder people.

I met those ladies again at the gate of the main house. They were taking out their shoes and putting on socks.  I could not help having a little chat with them.  They acclaimed joyfully when they knew that I am from Thailand. “OH! What’s a lovely!” One of them said.  Then they offered me the vegetable bag and told that they don’t know anybody here. One of the ladies have come to visit for a few times and usually brought some vegetable foe the kitchen.  This time she took her friend who is from Devon to have a look. She never has conversation with any monks here. 

 “I just come to have a peaceful hour.” She said.

I let them go on looking around and heard she tell her friend. “We will have to put something on our head.”  They then took out some clothes to cover their hair and started their little journey through the main house, from the reception room to the shire room and the conservatory.

I took the vegetable bag to the back of our kitchen. Normally, we just put it there for some lay person to take care of it.  But this time, I had a little curiosity then.  I had a look inside the bag and found that they brought us some English potatoes, carrots, a cauliflower and some tea.  What a typical English ladies!  I could not help grinning at that. It seemed to me that they might buy them in a convenient store on their way with an idea of  “We should bring something for them. Oh! What shall we bring them this time?”.

It was humorous for me indeed to see two elder ladies walking around the house with clothes on their head.  They might think that this place is like Hindu temple or Sai-BaBa place or something.  For me, they seemed to understand nothing about Buddhism.  You can see it from the way to point to some interesting things and while having a nice chat.

However, I was so impressed by their showing of respect.  They had done what is the good thing in their opinion. They also are generous with the spirit of giving to the ‘strange’ Buddhist monks.  For me, it is a good quality of human beings which is universal. It was so nice to see this little thing in the ‘non Buddhist’ land.

Thinking of these, I decided to tell them that there is no need to put on those clothes.  They were very surprised.  “We don’t have to wear it even in the hall?”  “Certainly, not.” I confirmed them. Those two ladies then quickly took their clothes off and kept them in their bags.  “Actually, it’s quite hot, isn’t it?”

The lady in her blue dress lived about 20 miles from Chithurst.  She was very happy when I suggested her for a walk in Hammer wood. Coming here for a few times, she did not know that there are beautiful lake and walking path in the forest nearby. So it will be something new for her.

The inner happiness that is derived from peaceful environment is common for all of us.  Having a Buddhist monastery in forest tradition seems to deliver this kind of happiness across any cultures.  The story of those two English ladies can confirm us of the good heart in human nature.  We all have something that can be given to others and make our world more beautiful.

In the end I let those nice ladies continue their journey and was back to my room in high spirits. 

See you sometimes in your next ‘peaceful hour’!

 

 

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