Mitch and Andrew brought their students of philosophy to hear from us. As a routine, Mitch in particular comes every semester as he loves the temple, what we have to say and delights in the prasadam food.
When the students arrived they were quiet, even a little shy. I engaged them in a mini puspanjali, a flower offering to our guru’s deity. The questions started flowing from the two teachers and their students, but one thing that broke the ice was the participation in chanting and dancing. Mitch and Andrew really let loose on these practices. By the time the meal was consumed our guests went through something very experiential. Each student came one by one to express their appreciation.
These presentations to classes and their reciprocation are a devotional highlight in the life of a monk. A monk is one who teaches by his actions and words. Today was that golden opportunity.
In the evening I took a wind-down walk on Bloor Street when I met an old friend, Billy James. Billy is in a bit of trouble. I took the time to hear his words. Hearing or listening to those in distress is also an integral part of a monk’s portfolio.
A part of life is to grieve or be stressed. This suffering needs to be shared. Billy spoke more than I did to him. That’s sometimes the way it goes.
Billy is an excellent musician and for years has played guitar and sung in the subway. They like him there. The subway ticket guy gave me a free entry at Billy’s request as Billy picked up his instrument to play. Oh and did he play! He played for me. He’s an entertainer. And people respond. Every other person that walked by threw coins in his guitar case.
Music is what keeps Billy alive. I’ve asked him to throw some spiritual content in there. That will help relieve the stresses of life.
“Come over for lunch, Billy. Come to the temple. Get some relief. We all have problems. Let’s talk. Let’s sing! Let’s chant!