So, picking up where I left off in my description of the hermitage:
After the morning reading has been given everyone remains seated on
their floor mats in the hall and meditates until 5:15am.
The hall has
a rooftop held up by concrete pillars, but no walls. So meditating in
it is quite pleasant. A soft breeze is usually blowing through it,
which keeps the mosquitos off you. You can look out at the stars and
moon and their reflection off the two large ponds in front of the
Women and men are kept seperated at all times in the hermitage
to help prevent distraction. In the meditation hall, all the women are
seated on one side and the men on the other side. At 5:15am the men
leave hall 2 and move to hall 3 for yoga. We do stretching and yoga
until 7am, focusing on strengthening our backs which get very sore
from the long hours of meditating. As we're doing the Yoga the sun
slowly rises filling the hall with orange light and the sound of
roosters and birds rising for the day.
After yoga we get a Dhamma talk from the abbot. The Pali word Dhamma
has a rather broad meaning, but in most contexts it basically
means "buddhist wisdom", so the Dhamma talk is basically a sermon, or
advice-on-living if you will.
At 8 am we all move to the dining hall for breakfast. Every morning
it was the same damn rice and barley gruel as the day before. For the
first few days I didn't really mind this, but towards the end it was
all I could do to make myself choke the stuff down without gagging.
After breakfast we have a break until 10am, but you are expected to do
whatever chores you signed-up for during either this breaktime or the
one you get after lunch. I signed-up for scrubbing the office
toilets. Not an altogether pleasant task but a very quick one.
Usually when I had completed my task I spent the rest of my break
sleeping in my room.
After 10am there was another short Dhamma talk
and then sitting and walking meditation until 12:30 when we broke for
Lunch each day was this light-brown rice, a yellow curry and 2
or 3 other dishs along with some fresh fruit. It was always
vegetarian food and usually delicious.
I guess I'll break off the description here, for later continuance.
Given that it seemed like all we did was meditate from dusk till dawn
I'm suprised at how long it's taking me to describe the typical day.
Hopefully nobody's finding this too boring.