Friday, June 12, 2020

Buddhist Meditation Huts (American Monk)

American Monk Bhante Subhūti (photos), 5/27/20; captions and editing by Wisdom Quarterly
These are the Wisdom Quarterly vacation meditation kutis, high-priced paradise (SoGoodly).
American Buddhist Monk Ven. Subhuti
A kuṭi (/coo-tee/) is a small hut or lodging that meditators and monastics live in. It is one of the basic Four Requisites: robes, food, lodging, and medicine. Such lodgings come in various sizes and quality levels. Here I have prepared a small photo showcase to do what words cannot. Nuns and monks reflect on the utilitarian purpose of one's lodging (senāsana). This is a small sample of the daily morning monastic chant:
  • Paṭisaṅkhā yoniso senāsanaṁ paṭisevāmi,With wise reflection I make use of a dwelling,
  • yāvad-eva sītassa paṭighātāya, uṇhassa paṭighātāya,but only to ward off cold, to ward off heat,
  • ḍaṁsamakasavātātapasarīṁsapasamphassānaṁ paṭighātāya,to ward off contact with gadflies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, and serpents,
  • yāvad-eva utuparissayavinodanapaṭisallānārāmatthaṁ.only to dispel the trouble of the (varying) seasons, so as to delight in meditative seclusion.
Ven. Subhuti and his American family.
This daily reflection should make it not matter where we stay or the quality of the dwelling. However, some of us get spoiled sometimes.  Wherever we stay, we should be happy.  I've stayed at many of the places shown here. Kuti #123 in Pa Auk Forest Monastery in Burma is where I lived from 2001-2005.

This photo was taken much later by the person living there now. It is one of the original huts in the monastic compound, which has grown quite a bit into the surrounding forest. They call them black kutis because they are blackwashed with old engine oil to keep the bugs away.

Does it work? To some extent, but they smell like a car repair shop for a few days every time they are treated. And when the smell goes away, the bugs return. The newer huts have oil moats around the supporting pillars.

Here are a few others from Pa Auk Forest Monastery.

Rain is a problem in the jungle. Mosquitoes may be worse. Screens are Western luxury.
Inside view, low bed, bucket shower, life-saving electric fan, and Coca Cola soda?
Here is the inside view. As I was looking through many pictures, I saw a few of my old residences from 2014-2015. This is in the “Beverly Hills Section,” where many senior monks reside. They have teak wood flooring.

A beautiful balcony and banister, a hot tin roof, shutters for the rain and wind.

Here is my kuti from 2014 to 2015. I have also included some of the kutis in Nauyana, where I lived from 2007-2012. The cement box was where I lived. I only spent one night in a kuti that looks this austere.

Stone is stronger than wood, so cover it in concrete until there's an earthquake.
A glorious cave kuti, apartment built into the overhang of a solid rock, Nauhana.
Wattle and daub is the British way of saying mud clay, grass, twigs, and branches.
With a Sri Lankan monk on the dirt floor, where creepy crawlies walk right in.
This wattle and daub does not have a thatched roof, but rusting tin for the rain.

Nauyana kutis are wattle and daub "mud huts," which makes them very cool and natural, easy to fix and feel like an ancient monastic. This is likely the way they were built in the early days of the Buddha.

Here is a kuti I stayed in for about three months in Mudon, which ranks high on my list of places to stay. It was brand new in 2015, modestly sized, but very, very nice.

Modern roofing, stilts, sliding windows, shutters

This is my current kuti. I really want to change kutis, and as such I have tried a few others. But they just don’t feel "right." So I stay on in the kuti I was given last November, 2019. It is quite nice. All the kutis are pretty much the same except for the teachers’ huts. One can guess which ones those are. Here's my kuti outside and inside. The wide angle lens makes it look much larger than it is.

Paved driveway -- a footpath for walking meditation over the jungle terrain.

On the inside, with lots of monastic colors. Burma prefers burgundy, carpet, screening, mat.

Aerial view of the expanding Pa-Auk Forest Meditation, Monastery, Mawlamyine.
A street light springs up on the "streets" of the forest hermitage, suburban sprawl.

The teal roofing of kutis stand out in the green jungle canopy.
Here are some different kutis in Pa-Auk Pyin Oo Lwin.

Conditioned air in the meditation hall? That would be salvation, relief, and unlikely.
The roof takes on an Indonesian appearance, a big indigenous house style.
Dirt stairs carved right into the ground, which works until it rains.

This is a teacher’s kuti. While they look quite nice, they are not actually luxurious. A hut can be austere. I have stayed in many different places. For example, when I was in Kauai, Hawaii, I lived in a tent for a year.

A tent can be a monastic residence. In the Buddha's time, they were made of robes.

It was all-focus and meditation. A tiny living space concentrates the mind or, in any case, can help one remove distractions.
This modern "robe tent" is the right color for a monk outdoors.
The rain in Hawaii causes issues.

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