Looking under the surface


The highlight of the day was when my guide in Chan Chan told be about the beliefs and superstitions that are still alive today. The entrance of the ruins consists a quadrant of small spaces: a ticket office, a room with information and some aerial pictures, a men’s room and a ladies room and a couple of souvenir shops. Turns out that one owner of a souvenir shop went to a shaman after having no clients for a month. The shaman told him that his competitor was using witchcraft and that he could break the spell for a certain amount of money. He thinks it is working but has to go back every month for an ‘update’ of his magic protection. The other shop owner is not so much into superstition. The guide told me they are not friends and always gossiping about each other. There is maybe 1,5 meters between their doors and they sell exactly the same merchandise to exactly the same customers. But since half a year they have a new, common enemy. A lady on the other side of the ‘complex’ (5 meters away) opened up a shop too, with souvenirs and cold drinks. Every morning she perfumes her part of the sidewalk, confirming the ideas of the older man that she is using witchcraft.

Wishing you a happy end of the era of ego, fear and greed!

From Caterpillar to butterfly

Imagine people all over the world literally waking up to a new paradigm. In the morning they open their eyes and they realize that the world is the same only they see it differently. Instead of threats they see beauty, instead of greed they feel a desire to share, instead of a need for validation they feel moved to serve others. And this would happen to people all over the planet, from shoe shiners in Delhi to entrepreneurs in Hong Kong, tribesmen in Ghane and housewives in Philadelphia. It would happen to Vladimir Putin, Robert Mugabe, Mitt Romney and the Pope. It would happen to skinheads, inmates, criminals and prostitutes. Media from all over the world would be busy reporting cases of spiritual transformation. Former enemies would enter in constructive dialogue and come up with compassionate and selfless solutions faster than television could cover.

The Angel of Hippie Camper Rental

Hippie Camper Angel

So I owed you another story. I normally don’t tell stories from ‘the past’ and this one happened last Wednesday, almost a week ago and therefore pretty much ancient history (time flies). I wanted to write it down last Friday, the day the weekly update goes out to the people on my mailing list (please join if you would like to keep updated).

I had paid the family in Buderim another visit, said goodbye and was now on my way back to Sydney. I would come pass Brisbane in 45 minutes and I remembered that the head quarters of hippiecamper.com were in that city. The problems that I had with them were never really settled.

Open letter to my teacher Genpo Merzel

Atalwin receives Jukai from Genpo Roshi

From the moment I heard the news about your disrobing because of an affair with your student and Dharma successor KC I knew I wanted to write you an open letter. But it is now three days later and I still don’t know what to say. It is not that I don’t have anything to say but the topic, the person whom I’m speaking to (you, my teacher) and others who can (and probably will) read this (like senior members from the sangha) make me feel fearful. I guess I fear the judgments of others and I feel the fear of feeling humiliated for saying or doing something stupid. My initial reaction is to shut up meanwhile brooding on what I want to say until the momentum is over.

Some are just as equal as others

Bali street vendor

For some reason the trip turns out way more luxurious than I expected, partly because of Mike’s illness (that demanded hygiene, cleanliness and availability of Western medical needs), partly because of the standard of living of the people we hang out with. Everything is beautiful, five star level, stunning and great but it makes me feel very much like a consumer. The feeling that comes up is that I’m not experiencing the ‘real’ Bali (or Lebowan). What I realize is that this is very much the reality of 2011t: traditional ways of living have been replaced by a cult around tourism. Locals live from the scraps and left overs from what the toursists bring in. My role here is to consume the views, foods, clubs and scenery and to spend, buy and rent from businesses that are mostly Western owned but hire (many) local staff. I cannot expect the locals to treat me as their buddy because I have a preference for feeling more equal.

Unmistaken Child

Unmistaken Child Poster

I really don’t know what to think of reincarnation. Intuitively I believe in it, rationally I can’t get my head around the idea. But I know that the rational mind is limited and I also know that my intuition hasn’t fully matured yet. I’ve had experiences in meditation that felt like glimpses of past lives but there is no way to proof that what I experienced was true. So I just don’t know.

I’m not the only one. The Buddhist concept of reincarnation, while both mysterious and enchanting, is hard for most westerners to grasp. That makes watching the documentary “Unmistaken Child” extra fascinating. The movie depicts the following of the four-year search for the reincarnation of Lama Konchog, a world-renowned Tibetan master who passed away in 2001 at age 84. The Dalai Lama charges the deceased monk’s devoted disciple, Tenzin Zopa (who had been in his service since the age of seven), to search for his master’s reincarnation.

The wounded healer

Bruce Lee

Every now and then you meet somebody extraordinary. I met him in a park in Paris. I was in Paris for a week of zen training at l’Association Dana, the official name of the zen center of my teacher Genno roshi (which is actually just her house that she makes available for students and practice). After the sesshin of last week had finished, I had some time for myself to walk around the city. We met each other in Buttes Chaumont. After coming home in Amsterdam yesterday I decided to write about the fascinating story of my fellow follower of the Way M.