Across Continents

Ken's Blog

On the tiles

July 29th, 2011

Roofdisplay

At Nantien Buddist temple, Wollongong. South of Sydney.

obpostlogo

Share

The God question

July 29th, 2011

It’s a question I’ve never really understood. Do I believe in God? For, just like the search for the meaning of life in Douglas Adam’s book "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy", if you don’t really know what you’re looking for, how will you recognise it when you find it? Sticking point for me is what exactly do you mean by the term God? Religious deity or some as yet unexplained force, the initiator of the Big Bang and the creation of the Universe? It’s a broad church.

I’d been joined at the breakfast table by Katalina. Originally from Poland, she’d spent quite a bit of time in Taiwan, eventually settling in Australia. Written a book on cultural differences, between who I wasn’t quite sure. Possibly Buddhism and Western philosophies. Didn’t seem to matter too much, conversation flowing along, content that I too was a pilgrim, albeit of a different type. On a journey rather more physical than others staying at the temple. And it was her who’d posed the God question. Think she found my answer just as perplexing.

obpostlogo

Share

At the temple

July 29th, 2011

At the temple from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken spends the night in a Buddhist temple. On the outskirts of Wollongong, a little to the south of Sydney.

obpostlogo

Share

Bells before breakfast

July 29th, 2011

Strong smell of incense. Flapping of lanyards on the poles outside the temple. Inside, I was the only one not clad in robes. Hoping, as I sought to mirror those around me, not to offend. Temple etiquette, beyond removing ones boots before entering, unfamiliar. And no cameras.

I’d decided to observe early morning prayers. Ceremony of Bells. Sheer curiosity. Been told visitors were welcome to attend, but mistakenly advised to be at the temple for six thirty rather than six sharp. Frustratingly unable to enter, all the doors being closed and secured from the inside. Fortunately my efforts to prise one open must have been heard, for a young shaven headed woman eventually let me in.

She’d led me to an empty row of cushions. Indicated I should kneel, joining the others in silent meditation. Nodding in appreciation I’d done this. Finding the experience as much invigorating as it was reflective. Ready to face the day ahead. After breakfast of course.

obpostlogo

Share

Smugglers woes

July 29th, 2011

Desperate for sleep, I’d ended up in small Buddhist retreat on the coast south of Sydney. Small, simple room for the night. Ample for a very weary traveller. Besides which, I was just a bit curious. Who exactly were my fellow guests? Pilgrims perhaps? So I’d opted to join at least some of them for dinner in the communal hall. Shared tables and wooden stools. Strictly speaking, I’d no choice if I wanted to eat, for this was a vegetarian establishment, meat not permitted within the grounds. My tinned tuna struck me as a bit of a grey area, but I’d decided to enter into the spirit of things.

Dinner was a surprisingly tasty affair. Textured proteins that you’d easily mistake for meat. And rice I took great delight in eating with chop sticks, something I’d long since mastered back in China. If my fellow diners were impressed with that, less so my efforts at humour. Joking that I really didn’t mind vegetarian food at all. After all, had been good enough for our family rabbit. Before we’d eaten it. Nice with chips. Solemn looks. Glad I hadn’t mentioned the fishy contraband concealed in my room. Time for bed.

obpostlogo

Share
Terms & Conditions of Use | Copyright © 2009-2022 Ken Roberts