yellow citizen

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temple diaries

I’m making roti canai today, but feeling simmering anger at the election results as I throw the dough. This whole year has been a wheelbarrow of being shocked by entrenched conservativism and busting up my own idealization of Taiwan’s progressivism. How are you gonna not move to de-nuclearize while voting to stop food imports from Fukushima? How is it humane to deny children education on gender and sexuality? And while I’ve never been a fan of marriage and very skeptical of hanging hopes on marriage equality, the near lack of discourse around trans* issues in the Taiwanese mainstream + this blathering bullshit vote against gay rights has been devastating to see. All while living in a temple that has seniors who subtly mention Confucian based morality of how this is a destabilty for society if it passes. Bro, what society we gonna have when global warming is gonna flood our island?


Anyways, a little cuteness today in the kitchen//How nuns flirt:


Don’t say such things, this is just a momentary form!

temple diaries

Learning to make wontons and 饅頭 from 覺道師!河北 monk recipe master haha. She scolded my hands for being floury and said real mian makers have clean hands and pots. Also frying peanuts is done on cool oil low heat.

temple diaries

Today, Zheng Di Shifu, the Hong Konger 糾察師父 for these last two weeks of 佛30, pulled me aside for a funny conversation. (Temple humor is starting to grow on me…) She has a distinct warble and her Mandarin sounds like she’s exclaiming something.

These days, she’s often reprimanding me for walking out of order of seniority or closing the door too loudly. In all things, checking my pride and practicing being considerate to the 修行 of everyone in this shared environment, such as other Shifus studying or the uneasy ghosts in the hunger realm bothered by the sound of chopsticks clanking too loudly against each other.

She accosted me after meditation one day to ask me why I didn’t bow when I walked through a door someone had opened for me (which I did, but she didn’t see) and then ask:

“Did you fall asleep during morning meditation today?”

“I don’t think so, why?”

“Because I noticed that you can sleep without moving! Most people will nod off visibly but you sit there so still until you suddenly wake up and shake yourself. You are harder to catch!”

I laughed, “Shifu, that’s cuz my mom used to wake my sister and I up at ungodly hours to meditate. So we had lots of practice. You can blame her when she visits.”


temple diaries

So many tangerines from a hearty donation! There’s a very rigorous no wasting practice of the gifts from the 10 directions. We’ve been having tangerines every meal so I offered to change it up a bit. And it turns out the flour shouldn’t be too much, it makes the cake too squishy. Today instead of orange chocolate I made ginger orange cake and brought two over to the temple next door with the old nuns who nurse a kitty with one eye. They’re so old school and legit. Much respect and gratitude too to 覺塵師 for being such a cool food manager and letting me make my pies and cakes and such. 🤗

temple diaries

I was reading about 慧遠法師 the founder of Pureland in 406 CE and all those monks were debating with monarchy and literati. A writer in Shanghai lamented that “Taiwan is the last bastion for democratic writing and thought. I wonder what Buddhism could contribute to that given this is such a tranquil environment for serene and methodical contemplation…”

Seeing spider webs everywhere delicately strong in the fog and amongst the trees after dreaming of chess and the other player taking my pieces and using them against me. But my King was safe, they couldn’t take those pieces. My Queen was blocked on all sides but because they had been making me see my pieces as theirs, up to that point I hadn’t defended…but then during my turn I realized that I was player of the white pieces, so I checked their king.

temple diaries

Somehow digging today in meditation I came to realize a great repentance for 過失 of trying to gain satisfy sexuality with fantasy…how I overlook things and don’t commit to the fullest effort of completing things, even realizing this as I swept the floors…that knowing my transgressions from intellectual understanding didn’t push me into right action. How long have I nurtured a deep habit of “well as long as I do enough”…but that’s not 精進!this excuse of, “oh just a bit, as long as it appears all is well or that I’m still doing right”…my mind has lost progress—this pollution, where is the hemorrhage? Yet 大師父’s 法 that our 娑婆心 is the materials for 淨土心 kept me from falling into despair of sinking into samvega…what necessary link to convert this shock…after all I’ve been looking at this slothly indolence that I came with—how to convert that into genuine passion to learn well? It comes out in blips but the motivation is shaken easily.

temple diaries

Reeling with questions and from the surprisingly serene visit. Was so tense washing dishes when I first saw them. Left with Audrey’s questions and stories: How to deal with a sense of home? Considering immigrant stress. Apologies. Lesbianism in temple that Ma was at in New Mexico.

Maybe in this way, I will keep my promises to my mother to be a good sister, my father to be a good citizen, my grandmother to be a good woman—tuan yuan…

Dharma talk chewing on: First you must know suffering before you can arouse compassion and wisdom…