When I lived as a novice I was trained to treat all monks as my seniors and to treat monks as family. Ajahn Poomin, abbot of Wat Treethepdhammaram, El Paso, Texas was a car traveling monk and he traveled extensively by car to many locations. So, he dropped into our Tucson temple (Wat Buddhametta) often on his way hither and thither. As a temple leader he was given the respect accorded to monks of his rank. Like many monks from Thailand he rarely showed his English skills unless necessary. Once he came to me to discuss a legal matter and I discovered he was fluent but reserved. After that he was always friendly and gracious. (Novice Anglo monks are treated, how shall I say,….. like a kid.)
Doesn’t matter if you have a law degree, head of household or are older than the monks, you are just a rookie. What simple lessons are derived from that experience, Humility, Obedience, Discipline.
So here it is, sometime after I disrobed and have returned to the life of a lay person and I find I am very touched by his loss. It is as though a relative has passed away. I marvel sometimes at the force of the change that took place living in the temple. I rarely reside in anger and resentment like I used to. I would often harbor ill-feelings with little reason, for long periods of time. Now I find those negative thoughts to be fleeting in contrast to the past. I find that negative thoughts embarrass me after my practice of Buddhist meditation/chanting loving/kindness over the years.
Where I once thought casually about the death of those I didn’t know or didn’t care about, now I find the presence of pain in suffering in living beings evokes the wish that all beings be free from all suffering. And I hope that Ajahn Poomin has an excellent rebirth and that his footprints do not fade soon.