Tonight, if all goes well, I will be a monk in a good-sized Buddhist temple. I am hoping it will be in Nara, at Todai-ji perhaps, or Asakusa at Senso-ji, or better still somewhere in Kyoto, although it might well be in the Myanmar jungle or somewhere deep within the Laotian highlands.
One problem with that world is that I have no control over it, which, come to think of it, leaves it like the waking world which has never hewn to my direction.
I’ve had this desire for weeks on end, and I suspect tonight will be no different, and I will spend eight hours sorting files, writing cease and desist letters and trying to convince myself that even that is a form of mindful meditation and abiding kensho will arrive in the next rapid eye movement.
You are surprised when the young man approaches you, his saffron robes a bit faded, his sandals more worn flip-flops, his smiling face almost too happy for a cool morning on the rough pavement of a street in Vienna, cafes pressing the curb. He isn’t begging, not like at home, at least, but he does bow and offer a plastic amulet, and you a few euros in exchange, as much out of guilt as charity, but cognizant that this is likely just another scam, there is no Temple being rebuilt in Myanmar, no monks chanting your favor as the stupa rises. Later, as night sets in, back on the boat and heading up river, you think you see a man sitting lotus on the shore, smiling at you, saying, “it is all intention, and yours was honorable,” as you palm the amulet in your pocket, the same one that now sits on your desk in the corner where you keep careful eye on your karma.