The Saints won the Superbowl last Sunday, Hell froze over as predicted, and some of the snow seems to have spilled over onto north Louisiana. We were up to our, uh, ankles in snow today.
I am an upasaka at Wat Buddha Samakee Vanaram in Bossier City, across the Red River from Shreveport. The Wat is Thai, and in the Dhammayuta tradition. It is more a Thai expatriate community center than anything else - Buddhist because Thais are Buddhist. There is no educational program for Thais or falangs (Westerners), and the abbot speaks very little English, as do most of the monks who pass through. Congregational conversations are in Thai and Lao, and nobody bothers to translate into English. The Dhamma talk is meditation time for me as I don't speak Thai.
I love the place anyway. The people are great, and I have formed close relationships with some of the monks, despite the language problem. However, they all decline to take me as a student because they do not have confidence in their English ability. So I read and listen to net lectures by various teachers. My favorite is Thanissaro Bhikkhu. I stayed a few weeks at Wat Metta to hear him and talk in person. I intend to go back for a stay this summer.
I am old enough to have been in the Rochester Zen Center when Philip Kapleau was roshi, but have found my way to Theravada since then. My Pali is weak but improving. I can parrot enough Pali to lead the Morning Chanting for the congregation and join the monks in Evening Chanting when I get a chance. I aim to learn it as a language, that is, gain reading ability. I have a little Latin (less Greek), which is a help with Pali.
I lead a meditation/learning group in Shreveport. We call it the Falang Corner since we all sit in the same corner when attending the Wat, and the group is an extension of Wat. I hope there are some on this forum more experienced that I in leading such a group (it wouldn't take much, I have never done this before). We are still feeling our way into what we will become.
I look forward to conversations on this forum!
Namo tassa ...