November 2, 2010
Today we broke out of the cities and came out to the country. Went to see where Moshan Lioran practiced a thousand years ago -- we chant her name as a notable woman teacher. There is a nunnery there where they are building a complex. The abbess was away, but the nun greeting us served tea, along with fruit they had grown on the grounds. And she handed out malas for everyone, so now we have two of them (we also had tea and malas at Rujin/Dogen's temple).
We are settling into our hotel in Yifang. We will be here two nights, so it is an opportunity to catch up on hand-washing laundry. I got much of mind done last night in Nanching, but am definitely taking advantage of the opportunity here, so I'll be set for a while.
The rooms in this hotel aren't all that great, but will be fine. No carpeting, no shower stall, just a drain in the floor and shower shoes. The bed is very hard, but that was also the case in Ningbo, and my body adjusted there, so I suspect it will do so here as well.
One thing I like is that the windows are open. We are on a highway, so there's a lot of noise. Chinese drivers honk a lot, mostly just to let each other know where they are (tweeting?). Not so much about trying to get someone to do something (Move! Stop!), but just an almost-friendly, or in any case impersonal, imparting of information -- I'm here, coming up behind you. It often implies that it might be beneficial for one to move over a bit (i.e., pedestrians in a road that a car is coming down), but not necessarily.
It was so great to see nuns today, all involved in building this place. One of our groups said she would like to move in for a while.
Andy mentioned that in their eyes (Chinese monastics), we're all lay people, because we haven't left home. I'm pondering that a bit. What exactly does it mean to leave home in an American context? In my context?
One sentence on a scroll in the hall where we drank tea reads: "The Dharma Rain in the Nine Mountains transforms the Ten Directions." I liked that place very much.