The woman walked quickly up to me and pointing at the kesa around my neck asked,
“Where are they handing those out?”
It was a question I had not really anticipated.
Heading off that afternoon with three friends for my first pilgrimage walk into Melbourne city square I had wondered what questions might be asked about the kesas Dantacitta and I wore.
Dantacitta had placed mine on my neck at the pilgrimage launch ceremony earlier in the week to signify my commitment to wear it everyday for 14 months.
After agreeing to take my grandsons to school the next morning they seemed totally nonplussed on seeing me with a kesa on.
As I arrived at the school in the car I noticed the urge rising to avoid going in.
I had taught at the school for many years before leaving to do the pilgrimage this year.
I would be running into colleagues and parents who knew me well as the Wellbeing teacher but perhaps weren’t as familiar with my life as Maitripala.
Me : “Does your dad take you right up to the classroom or do you walk in yourself?”
Grandson: “Daddy always takes me to the classroom and waits until the bell goes.”
Of course he does.
Small mind solution: Perhaps I could tuck the kesa into my shirt so they won’t notice it and ask me lots questions.
Big mind: Oh just get on with it Maitripala, get over your ‘self’!
So in I went.
My grandsons had excitedly dressed up that morning for the special school superhero day. But it hadn’t occurred to me that all the staff would of course be moonlighting superheroes too. Wonderwoman, Batman, Supermen and Superwoman were happy to see me.
Here I was… Super Buddhist being totally unimpressive and the kesa quite unnoticeable. After a chat with my friends and the Principal I headed home, chuckling at the irony of it all.
Over the next few days I sometimes noticed mild resistance to going out into the world with my kesa on but it soon was quite easy to just get on with it without too much tussle with the ego.
So by the time we were in the city square rat the end of the week ready to connect with other human beings and hand out little buddhas there was no kesa resistance at all.
The woman who asked me where they were handing them out had been to a university information day near the square and had accumulated a little showbag of free giveaways already. She had seen Dantacitta passing by with her kesa on and obviously quite liked it.
Then I came along and…. well…she wanted one too.
I explained to her that I was an ordained Buddhist and the kesas were a little hard to get as we had to do many years of spiritual training before one was placed around our neck.
She was interested in Buddhism so we had a friendly chat and it turned out she had loads of buddhas herself and offered to share them with me!
My buddhas stayed in my pocket that day.