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Writing Old Path White Clouds
During the Summer Opening in the first years, I stayed in the room above the bookshop in Upper Hamlet. We had very few rooms then, and I had to share the room with four or five children. They stayed in the room with me and at night they sprawled out on the floor.
I thought that children needed to sing; that chanting alone was not enough. I intended to write the song, “I take refuge in the Buddha, the one who shows me the way in this life…” for the children. One afternoon we did sitting meditation in the Bamboo Hall. The walls are made of stone. Facing a big block of stone, the tune for the song came to me. “I take refuge in the Buddha, the one who shows me the way in this life, Namo Buddhaya.” I thought to myself, “I am here to do sitting meditation and not to make up songs. Let’s continue it after the sitting meditation. ”How-ever, after a few minutes, the music returned to me. I thought, “If it’s going to be like this, I might as well compose the song now.” So I continued writing that song and, after the meditation, I recorded it in order not to forget it.
At that time I was also writing the book Old Path White Clouds. We did not have central heating yet, only a wood stove in the little room above the bookshop, and the weather was very cold. I wrote with my right hand, and I put my left hand out over the stove. I was very happy writing. From time to time, I would stand up and make myself a cup of tea. Every day, the few hours I spent writing was like sitting with the Buddha for a cup of tea. I knew that the readers would have much happiness while reading the book because I had so much happiness while writing it.
Writing Old Path White Clouds was not hard work; rather, it was an immense joy. It was also a time of discovery. Some sections were more difficult to write than others. One difficult section was when the Buddha first gave teachings to the three Kashyapa brothers and received them as disciples. There are documents that say the Buddha had to use miracles to do it, but I wanted to show that he did it with his compassion and understanding. The Buddha has a great capacity of understanding and compassion, so why would he have to use miraculous powers? I had a strong faith that I would be able to write the chapter in that light. That was the most difficult chapter for me, but eventually succeeded. The second most difficult chapter was when the Buddha went back to visit his family after becoming enlightened. He was still the son of his parents and a brother to his siblings. I wished to write in a way that would retain his human qualities. The way he took the hand of his father upon their meeting, the way he related with his younger sister, with Yasodhara and Rahula, was very natural. I could only write in that way because I felt the ancestral teachers supporting me. In reading Old Path White Clouds, we find that Buddha is a human being and not a god. That is precisely the aim, to help readers rediscover the Buddha as a human being. I tried to take away the mystic halos people ascribe to the Buddha. Not being able to see the Buddha as a human being makes it difficult for us to approach the Buddha.
Last Updated (Friday, 23 November 2012 14:54)