a gift is a letting go

252 Tibetan Forest Monks live on Reche Rd at a monastary called Wat Santi, in between the Integratron and the Marine Base, wrapped in ochre robes and singing. On Satudays the public is invited to serve them rice in a gift giving ritual, as they are alms monks, and exist outside of the dominant mode of exchange- capitalism. We stand in a row, each with a bowl of forbidden rice and a small spoon, and scoop a bit into their large brass orb bowls as they walk by. We bow to eachother. The forest monk tradition of Buddhism began in the wilderness of Thailand, and spread to San Diego several years ago, and then to here, where four monks now live. Forest monks believe in a sense of being one with the wild things, with nature itself, and that only through an understanding of ones self in realtion to all parts of the ecosystem, can enlightenment be reached. We must realize that we are all connected. The household life is close and dusty, the homeless life is free as air. It is not easy, living the household life, to live the fully-perfected holy life, purified and polished like a conch shell. What if I, having shaved off my hair & beard and putting on the ochre robe, were to go forth from the home life into homelessness?253 After the ritual rice is placed in their bowls, we all go inside to the meditation and chanting room, and we chant as the monks eat their breakfasts, which also consist of the freshest fruit and eggrolls, beef soup, and salad. The monks tell us "let go of suffering through letting go of a perception of self..." They have a calm and strong energy and their eyes are so clear. We chant as they eat: "Consciousness is inconstant....Form is not-self.....Feeling is not-self......perception is not-self....."254 Wat Santi is open to the public with morning and evening meditations and chantings, everyday at 6am and 6pm. Meditations last an hour and a half.