Last day in Canberra

The past two days have been hectic. I worked hard physically to clear out the remaining things from 18 Gillespie St and then do the cleaning. Finally out of there. May that be my last house! May those belongings bring happiness to someone else. May I never gather so much stuff ever again in this life or any other.

Due to working so late on Thursday night/Friday morning, I slept overnight on the carpet in one of the rooms just wearing what I had on with a rolled up towel and some other rag as a pillow. It was cold and not comfortable even though the house heater was on all night.

I slept well last night back at the YHA. I packed and repacked my remaining stuff this morning. A series of decisions about the relatively inessential to cut weight. I’m down to my good Osprey Sojourn travel pack (with wheels and backpack straps) and an old suitcase for stowed luggage and my day pack for cabin luggage. I put my suit bag inside the old suitcase. I will probably dump that old suitcase in Perth. My travel pack is loaded with my most precious Dhamma books that I find very hard to leave behind. I may send them by DHL or FedEx to Bangkok for storage at a friend’s house so my travel pack be lighter. I won’t need the books while I’m doing intensive meditation retreat. Once I’m settled somewhere, even briefly, I like to have my Dhamma books nearby to consult.

I have arranged to meet my children for a lunch today.

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Wallet lost and found

I woke blurry and still tired from the recent unaccustomed physical work get a quick cup of black tea at the YHA. I not been paying attention when I put my wallet in my pocket because I didn’t have it when I looked for it 30 minutes after getting off the bus. I went to the Bus depot to check their lost property office, but it turns out ACTION buses have changed policy and now to lost property at the terminus (in Tuggeranong and Belconnen). So I went back to the terminus and my wallet was there. I was pleasantly surprised to find that nothing was missing at all, even the $400 plus cash. When I told this story, most people were amazed. Some said I was lucky. One of my Dhamma friends said this was kamma. She said that this is a result of me previously keeping the second precept (of the five precepts for lay Buddhists) of not stealing.

So the there was some delay with the work of the day, sorting and cleaning my old rental. I’ve done a lot and there is still a lot to do. My children want to take a day off school tomorrow to help me clean up. My son is keen to spend more time with me before I go (even if he has to do some work…). We’ll see how we go.

I’ll hire a ute from Kennards and take some more junk to the recycling depot at Mitchell. Then I need to sweep, mop, wipe. I have lunch with one friend and dinner with another. I may not have much time with either given all the work I have to do. House inspection is Friday morning.

Parents and children

Today was more hard physical work moving furniture and boxes of things out of the house for friends to take away. This evening my daughter and I ate noodles at a local restaurant and then went to parent-teacher night at Hawker College I met 4 teachers who all praised my daughter for her enthusiasm and good work. I felt touched and sentimental. A few tears rolled down. I have no concerns about my daughter’s performance at school. I know she will do well in life. She has a good base, good values and clearly has a direction.

Some people may wonder how is it possible I could leave teenage children to pursue my path. This is a common concern since the time of Lord Buddha. The Jataka story of the bodhisatta’s perfection of generosity, Prince Vessantara, is one example in Buddhist culture. I might discuss that issue in more detail another time. In referencing Prince Vessantara I don’t mean to imply I am perfecting generosity, I refer to the Prince’s ability to give away his children. There are many other instances in the Pali Canon.

My children have their Mum and step father to care for them too. They have e-mail and phone contact with their Grandma, Aunties and Uncles. They have been over to Perth to see them twice this year. My children have told me they want me to do this. I know that to some extent they want to please me.

I will be in e-mail and phone contact. They may possibly visit me in Asia. Their Mum is thinking of moving to Singapore to work for a few years at the end of next year. So many things are possible.

As parents we make many choices that may hurt and or help our children. Eventually they make their own choices and take responsibility. I hope my children will view my current project as an inspiration and see the many positive aspects.

Sometimes parents are in a no-win situation. It is very difficult to be perfect as a parent (or sibling, child, teacher, work colleague etc.).

All anyone can reasonably ask is that we try our best with good intentions and the best way that we know. I recall that when I was a newly ordained novice monk in 1982, I began vipassana meditation and many memories of childhood came up. I was very restless and wrote a series of letters to my parents criticising them for the mistakes they made in raising me and my siblings. My parents were shocked. Much later, after more meditation and after becoming a parent myself, I realised that my parents did the best they could at the time. They were actually very good parents. They both taught me to be a gentle man and gave me good values of loyalty, generosity and consideration for others. I asked their forgiveness. The wounds were still sore though. I won’t be surprised if one day my own children may confront me for my failures as a parent too. I hope I shall have some degree of equanimity and loving kindness. Maybe I can smile and tell myself I saw that coming.

Please rent 18 Gillespie Street

My lease doesn’t run out until 2 November 2008. I’m breaking the least 2 months early so I pay rent until another tenant moves in.

You can see the advert and some pictures here: http://www.allhomes.com.au/ah/ah0079?rlid=167243237 This link will break when someone moves in and the ad is removed from the Allhomes site. Here is the Google Maps street view image:

This morning I used a borrowed a friend’s car to carry and donate six boxes of books to Life Line and most of my clothes to the Salvation Army in Mitchell, ACT. I’ve got a box of food to take to the YHA this afternoon.

Donating for relief and freedom

Yesterday I was happy giving away a lot of things from this house. There was relief and delight. I was very happy Mrs Thin took most of my Dhamma books and Dhamma talks on CD ROM. She will pass them to people in her network, including Mr Grahame White who may use some and pass others to the libraries of various NSW Buddhist centres. I shall send the Thai language books to a friend in Melbourne. Later in the day Mr Saw Nyo, his wife and two young men came with a trailer and took 2 single beds, 3 mattresses, a 6 place wooden dining table, 2 tall boys (drawers), 3 book shelves, and 2 large pieces of wood that will be used to make soft beds firm. I also gave them some power tools, spanners, sheets, cups, an ironing board, an iron and other small items. They will take most of these items to the Narrabundah Buddhist Temple at Goyder Street Narrabundah. Mrs Saw Nyo told me the Abbot would use the table and the beds would be placed in kutis for meditating yogis to use when on retreats. Later someone came around to help me move the very old and decrepit sofa beds, fridge and washing machine to the skip outside.

This house is very untidy now. Mrs Thin is letting me use her car today so I may deliver many boxes of books to Life Line, clothes to charities and other items to the recycling centre.

Tomorrow the last pieces of furniture will be taken. This PC, printer, desk, office chairs, bed linen and mortar and pestle will be taken by my children. The queen size bed, microwave and other items will be taken by Mrs Beidar.

I will then clean the house and make it ready for the final inspection. Last night I spoke with Mum on the phone and told her that I hoped I never would accumulate these kinds of house possessions again in this life. If I don’t ordain to be a Buddhist monk, may I live a simple life with as few possessions as possible.

When I reflect on these donations I feel happy because most of the things will be put to good use by worthy people. I also feel relief that I don’t have to carry them any more. I don’t have to protect them from theives or take care of them. A bit less burden in this life and bit more freedom…

Leaving the Australian Public Service

I worked three years in the Australian Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and then six months in the Department of Finance and Deregulation. I worked in many other Australian Public Service (APS) agencies since 1992. I enjoyed working in the public service for many reasons: sharing knowledge and experience; contributing to the welfare of Australian people; meeting and stirring-up interesting people; and relatively good working conditions and salary. Reasons for not enjoying it include: seeing bad ideas become Government policy and then fail as predicted; seeing pettiness in the scramble for power; and more.

I also liked the public service because I could do work that was relatively harmless to myself and others. I always tried to ensure that my work would be helpful to the Australian community and to some extent the international community. I was mindful of Right Livelihood – Sammaa Aajiva.

“A lay follower should not engage in five types of business. Which five? Business in weapons, business in human beings, business in meat, business in intoxicants, and business in poison.” AN 5.177

My last day in the APS was Friday, 22 August 2008. Now I have no income. I have some savings which I plan to live on for the next few months. I may decide to seek ordination as a Theravada Buddhist monk or to find employment to continue the search as a lay Buddhist.