Good morning everyone. Today is February 4 2024. And this is coming my coming to the path. I'm Maimoona Ramaswamy. And just a short note, we have no connection to Ramaswami the Republican presidential candidate. We do not know him
went to Truman first asked me to give coming to the pep talk last fall. I thought about focusing on my time in us, and how I got here at the Zen Center. However, when I went to India in November, December just last, plus, just few months ago, I thought more about this and realize I have to include my years in India to tell the full story of my coming here.
So as we know, there are always many interconnected events and people that that brought me to the Rochester Zen Center. So I'll talk about some in chronological order. It first my granddad Colleen, India indirectly affected me, my daughter Malika, my husband, Shiva, and my teacher, both in Roshi. And as I talk more, you will see how they are connected. So little bit about my early years in India, as everybody knows, I was born in India. I was born in the Soviet family in pollen pool and say this my maiden name. Pollen pool is a small town in state of Gujarat, about 300 miles north of Mumbai, and 30 miles south of Rajasthan. So we're almost in Rajasthan. I was youngest among four kids. My father was a physician who had a large medical practice. And my mom was a housewife, who managed large household with extended family. Our multi generation family included my mom, my dad, my two sisters, my brother, my grandfather, his two brothers, and my father's first cousin, who I thought was my brother until I was six years old.
Now a little bit about about the environment that I grew up in. Our home is a large with an open courtyard in the middle, in rooms and verandas around the courtyard, you kind of wonder where all these people live. So think of a smaller version of the Chapin Mill retreat center. So it's like the rooms all around and the courtyard in the middle where people gather in the summer times. The backyard had a large garden with fruit trees, lemon trees, papaya Diem, and one coconut tree and when I never saw corporate because coconut is not in north India is basically your southern climate tree. And we also had one banana tree and I never saw any bananas either. And probably the same reason because there's plenty of bananas in South India, and many fragrant flowers that my mom selected. My family has lived on the same land since 1600s. Our house was rebuilt many times in last two in late 1800s and again in mid 1950s. My parents but rebuilt the house in 1950s. So that was the last time nearly most of our relatives also lived in similar houses in multi generations families. This is not uncommon in Asia as you know.
We were surrounded by very diverse and religious communities, our friends were Hindus, Jains, and Shia Muslims, all are celebrated, celebrated as we celebrated all holidays. The volley the Hindu festival of light was a major holiday for everyone. And I always remember lots of firecrackers and lots of sweets exchanged from one house to the another. I went to school run by Jane's, everyone from all faiths came to the school. I have many friends from all different religions. And some of them are here and we still keep in touch. So now a little bit about the spiritual tradition that I grew up in. The Sehat family belongs to a mystical tradition within Islam. Similar to the Sufi tradition. This spiritual tradition is called my head with some in no collections to make the sect of Iran It was totally in home grown in India. The Mahadevi mystical movement in India was founded by in 15th century by one of my ancestors, Sayed Mohammad Juwon Puri in northern India, a place south of Naipaul and west of Delhi. So, there was no shortage of mystical movements around that place. The Maha headways practice a form of meditation called Zikr. And consider this the most important part of the spiritual tradition. It is said that the founder was troubled by the lack of mystical and spiritual aspect in Islam in his time and place. So he brought the message of non materialism and spirituality through meditation. The my head waves were persecuted by fundamentalist mullahs over the years and there's a whole history about that. For several centuries, my headways did not build house with foundation, why? To avoid material attachment and probably be able to get up and leave when you were persecuting. This change this change at some point as we know because now we live in big houses. Certainly when our ancestor moved from the state of Rajasthan to Gujarat, my hometown, in 1960s, in 1616, as a spiritual teacher of the royal dynasty of pollen pool, they may have felt protected there, since in 1750, the dynasty built a very tall and strong wall all around the town at that time, with seven gates that therefore garden all times, and one gate is still there. We, I took my husband to see him that this time when we will there our tradition highly recommended the practice of meditation daily around sunrise prayer and sunset prayer. Not everyone does this since we know you cannot make people to set if they do not want to. So some people just participated in different rituals and ceremonies but they didn't really come to meditate, but the people who want to it was available there. So one has to seek out guidance of a qualified spiritual teacher or a guide and the word that was used for that spiritual teacher was motion. And the same vocabulary we use in made wisdom that is in Sufism, so I, I think that there's some connection there. All are free to choose their teacher, and one can find different teachers within the same family. In fact, my mom and dad had different spiritual teachers. And I remember them talking about who's teachable, and it will, it will draw this spiritual bond between teacher and disciple is believed to be lifelong and continues after death. And that was the belief in this spiritual guide or a teacher hops with that medication, if possible, perform ceremonies on 1020 years and for PTSD after that. The Spiritual Guides lineage is highly regarded and recited at the teacher see disciple ceremony. Most followers initial renunciation after retirement or in advance age in to focus on their meditation. And this time when I went there, there was some decisions and some questions and discussions about what do people do with their pensions? Because you're not supposed to have anything. And I don't think I heard what the answer was for that. They also take up periodic solitary retreats. And they also donate 10% of their income to the Neely. So that's also to avoid materialism. The spiritual guys renounced the material attachment at any age when they except that so now a little bit about my grand uncle who was also spiritual health at some point. The first person on my list or chronological order list is my granddad uncle, and He indirectly affected me with my meditation practice. My granddad called was my grandfather's youngest brother, and had profound influence on me and many others, even outside our community and faith. He was born in 1892, had a college degree, taught English to many and was an official tutor to some of children, for pollen, poor states, princely royal kids. As we know, India has some 400 plus, plus states with kings, maharajahs, Navab, until independence from British in 1947, so they consolidated all of them, and they're created one country, India. And pollen poor was one of those states, not very big, but it was still a state and we had our own king. I never met the king because I think he passed away before I was born. My grand uncle was very disciplined about his daily prayers, and he meditated twice a day for two or more hours per sitting, every day, seven days a week. In between, he taught English to students who came to learn. He had a reputation for success for his students. So parents sent them pay him when they were stuck on their exams or in their classes. Also, a lot of I remember a lot of people coming to visit him for different times, some of his students became writers and poets. So they will come back even when he was not teaching, come back to visit and come just people came before his consult, either was a English or something else or, or spiritual. Once a year, during holy month of Ramadan, he did solitary retreat for 10 days in the mosque next to our house. I used to take food to him when I I was strictly instructed not to talk to him. And when I was young, I didn't quite understand but as I got older, I got the idea as to what what was going on. He was always calm, happy, and present, no matter who he was a child or a dignitary. He used to create games for us. And he taught me how to make origami boats. And when it rained, we used to go in the backyard and frog those boats. So that's what I remember about him when I was child. Our life was happy in such an environment and surroundings. And I thought this will go on forever because as a child, you would never think about anything more than what's around you. All this change one day when I was senior in high school,
My dad went to his clinic as any other day and that day he had a heart attack and he died
you can imagine our shock and sadness we all felt. Mike render Cole was with us that day. I remember how calm he was when he received the news. There is word he used that loosely translates as peaceful acceptance of death. And he demonstrated complete acceptance of certainty of death and uncertainty of time of death. That day. He was very calm, even though he was grieving with us. And that year, first time in my life, he did not call retreat since his family needed his presence. In my my, my dad passed away three days before he was to start his annual retreat. So he didn't go that.
And then later on, I asked him after he was he was a spiritual teacher. I asked him to become my spiritual teacher. And at this ceremony, he taught me how to meditate. Then there was turn of events in my life when I was 21 years old. My brother and sister in law came to India with their two beautiful little boys, one and two years old, to spend their summer vacation with us. My sister in law was offered a full time position at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio. So they needed someone to care for their children. In they thought about me, and they asked me if I was interested. And I was excited to go to a new country and have a new experience. And I had read and heard a lot about us. When I was in high school, one of my principal came to USA school had some kind of fun. So they send the principal to different countries occasionally, and one time he came to USA and brought lots of slides of schools that he was attending. And also my dad had visited here, and he brought some pictures. So I had seen firsthand what it was like and it was like would be an exciting country to go to. So when my brother and sister are s me, I accepted my grant. I thought it was be a good idea for me and so did my mom. So I accepted and came here. I stayed in Hudson until I went to Akron to study Saito pathology at Akron General Medical Center. In the region, I completed my course. I got my first job in Toledo, Ohio, after I graduation, graduated and passed my board exams. So that's a little bit about coming here. In the few months after I moved to Toledo, I met Shiva now my husband at a party. He is from South India, and I'm from North India. So we did not have a common Indian language as we know he speaks Tamil and I speak Gujarati. We ate different foods, which I didn't know but I had never eaten some of his food and he had never eaten my not Indian food. So that was new. We had different religions. So Shiva used to say the only thing we have in common is Indian passport.
So besides the Indian passport, we have something else in common and that is English language. So that's what we speak in my children's Speak English in our household, we just spoke English only. We joke that if British didn't come to India, we will not be married now. We came from similar family backgrounds, and we had the same shared values. So we were married after two years. So now about my daughter Malika. So second person in my list that affected me to come here. When I was pregnant with my first daughter Malika, everything went well until 20 weeks of pregnancy. On a routine exam, my doctor discovered a major health issue. We had to go to the hospital immediately. And for an emergency procedure, I was shocked. She was calm. I didn't take it. I had not thought much about that. I was fully enjoying the samsara is they were wearing me to the operating room. I had all kinds of thoughts and anxiety worries, what is depth? What will happen to me? What if I died now? What if I and my baby both die? What if my baby did not survive? And what would happen to Shiva? What would he do with when I die? Because there'll be too much for him. That's what I was thinking. Doctor was very clear that they will try their best. But all types of complications were possible, and the baby may not survive. The procedure lasted about an hour. I was awake the whole time and thinking after the procedure, I had to stay in bed for 10 days in the hospital. So now more time to think more time to get anxious, more time to get worried. And I wished I could talk to my grand uncle, he would have certainly helped me deal with this challenge. Unfortunately, he had passed away 10 years prior. So I didn't have anybody to talk to. And even to talk to anyone else in India you have it was not possible from the hospital. We had to wait for several hours after you place to call because no cell phones, no internet, any of that communication was very hard those days, only way we could communicate with anyone and was unlike big, long, nice laterals. In my spiritual tradition, after death, 1028 and 40 days ceremonies are performed by your spiritual teacher. And I considered very important for the disease. This time of anxiety, only thing I could do was to try to remember what my grandfather called taught me when I was 16 years old. And that was how to meditate. So I remember that and I started to meditate in breath out breath I did this anytime I felt anxious which was most of the time but I couldn't do it most of the time. I started to feel relaxed and not so worried. So I continued as much as I caught. I remember hearing my grand uncle and my parents discussing Krishna Multis book once, something along the line of one cannot go on without a spiritual guide and have a serious meditation practice. I was thinking I don't even know if I'm doing my meditation practices correct or laughs I do not have a teacher to guide me However, this is all I know. So let's just go on
so I was in the hospital for 10 days, and they finally sent me home. And I still remember how wonderful it was to go home and just see the blue sky and the green crease. Because in hospital, I was facing the brick wall basically. Which is not unusual for hospitals as we know or is worse in. Its strong you look at the cemetery I still remember one time I went for some kind of procedure for at strong, and the person was very old and frail. And we're standing there and from the window you can see the cemetery and I was like, this was not very good for this lady.
So one day since I had to stay when I got home, I had to stay in restricted mobilities my doctor came home to check on me so I didn't have to go anywhere. Then one day, my husband Shiva brought me a pile of books from the library. Some were about religion, some for history, some philosophy and some novels. I read them all looking for answers. Whether or not my meditation was correct or not, and what what to do. I was just, I was looking looking for answers. I clearly remember a chapter on Zen Buddhism that caught my attention. I read and reread that chapter. I had never heard of Zen Buddhism before. There were many discussions about Vedanta, Sufism. Ramana Maharshi Ramkrishna Paramhansa, with a Canon and Hazrat Inayat Khan, but not Zen, maybe we had no Buddhist around us in Poland poor. Little did I know that Zen was very close to Dion, which is, I was very familiar with that. My sister in law was teaching a class on haiku poetry at Western Reserve Academy. And once I had heard about Zen there, this is all I knew. My doctor was from Japan. And I thought maybe I should ask, but I never did.
And then there was a list of Zen centers around around us in in us in one of the books so I made a list. And Arbor was close, New York City and Massachusetts found and then the Rochester Zen Center, which was a possibility to visit someday. She was brother lived in Rochester at that time. Months went by our friends and neighbors supported us in many ways. And my baby Malika was born full time. My C section. My doctor told us, this is a miracle baby. We were delighted, and we celebrated with all our friends and neighbors. Actually, when I got home with a baby, my our neighbors had decorated our porch with pink balloons and ribbons and all that and we I was really touched by that, because they thought how hard it was to have this baby. And then my job at the hospital was gone because I had gone stayed. I was gone from my position for too long and they didn't keep your job beyond 10 weeks in those days that place. And it's very nice that when my daughter Malika had her little boy she got four months off for maternity leave, so things have gotten much, much better for better I think we have still a long way to go there. When Malika was six months old, we moved to Rochester for jobs, she was brother was here already, and we had to go someplace for jobs. So having a family was a plus. So after we got to Rochester, I had a very nice and quiet position here in Rochester, and excuse me. After some times in Rochester, I looked up the phone number for the Zen Center and called the person on the other end asked me some questions. And so I told her, I wanted to come there to meditate with the community. And she said, Oh, we don't do meditation here. We do that, Sam.
I had never heard of Jason. So en, you have to attend a workshop on Saturday to learn this. And I would like okay. So I asked how soon she told me, she'll mail me some information. I was disappointed, because in India, you could just walk in any of the fake place without really any questions anybody can walk in. So I was surprised. But the restrictions, she told me, she would mail me. So I got I got all the material in the mail. The workshop late and almost a full schedule on Saturday was difficult for me with a small baby and a new full time job at the time. So I called again to negotiate my way in like an Indian. She told me, you have to attend a workshop. And that is a requirement. I understand perfectly now. But then I was disappointed again.
So at this time, or maybe another time, I may have called again. And she told me about a short session on Saturday, one to two hour long. So I immediately signed up. And it was introduction to practice. I went there, which is here right at the door. And before I came to sensor, I drove a few times to see if the doors were open or anything and that I didn't see any any activity there. So I went back. The leader met us at the door and immediately led us here in the Zendo. And we were just sitting right here and there were like maybe four or five people not not many. He led us to the Zendo. And they went over three different sitting positions. We did about maybe 20 minutes of sitting after he was done with the sitting with the positions demonstration. I had many questions. I want to find out if my meditation was correct. But there was no questions or answer session if I remember recall, and there wasn't much discussion. And then as we were leaving, I was fascinated with the building in the garden. I I wanted to see I thought maybe I'll get a little tool but that didn't happen either. I wanted to look around and have a tool. The leader led us back to the door. Our session was over. I was disappointed again.
did not call back for few months. And I was like I didn't know what else to do. But finding meditation community and checking about my practice did not go away from my mind. So I read a few more books didn't help. Some reason I never found that Roshi is three pillars of sin, and it was not in one of those piles either. So few months after I called again and by then I think they probably thought I was this person is not going to go away. So this time, I was very lucky. I was scheduled to meet both in Roshi Roshi, talk top met with me in the Oak room. And we talked, he talked to me and asked me questions about my meditation practice. And I explained to him what I was doing. He did not say anything about Zen or workshop. He told me to increase my sitting time at home from 20 to 30 minutes if I can. He also asked me that I could come to the center to sit with other people. And he gave me the trial membership. Either he gave me the application or somebody else, but he also introduced me to few people. Well, as we were walking out, and we had a wonderful conversation, just exactly what I was looking for. Here was someone, a leader who understood what I was looking for in my spiritual practice. So thank you Roshi. So after I, I immediately filled out my trial membership application. And then I started to come here, once, I think, come here, on some evenings, and some Sundays, my husband watched the baby, and made it possible for me to come. And then I think somewhere along the same time, there was a workshop that I was able to attend, and I came to the workshop, and it was given by Roshi Kapleau. So that's where I met him.
So my husband Shiva made made possible for me to come here and I came in at that time, there were no families in the Zen Center, there were no children's program or youth program. So some of us parents felt it would be helpful to have kids come to the center, you want for once in a while. So we initiated that. And I remember, Jim Thompson led a one minute setting for little kids in the dining room and told them a story about a fine jewels that we all have have. And by sitting, we can keep it polished. And I've, we had some questions about that. So I think kids did get a little bit in from there. By bringing the kids here, it was easy for us parents to now. Just so the kids knew what parents were doing and where they were going. And that was very helpful, and also the family. And then the one of the discussions when we had about bringing the kids here was that some some of the parents were thinking we should make this place a fun place for the kids to come not like a Sunday school. I didn't quite know what Sunday school was like, but I kind of understood what they were saying. It's not some kind of a strict steady thing. It has to be fun. And so some of the parents worked hard to come up with that kind of program. So thank you to all the parents in the Zen Center leadership for including the kids. So they felt part of their parents spiritual practice. Then, three and a half years later, when I had my second daughter, Maya, things went well. Initially, I thought that doctors know what my problem was. And then things went well with Malika I think will go well. Well, they did until several months. And then I developed complications again. She was born preemie was sick. We were very sick, both of us. She stayed in neonatology and special care nursery, and she got excellent care. We were able to take her home after 20 days and part of it was at Highland Hospital because doctors felt that when she just needed a treatment there will be a better quiet place and it certainly was more than but care was excellent for her. Not so much for me in high risk OB where I am was moved from doctors to doctors and my physician who was supposed to take care of me all the time. I never saw him as strong. It was somebody else. It was always somebody else. So it was like we were able to take her home after 20 days. Is amendment we got home for days, we had hot meals delivered to us from Sangha Sunni or Roshi, Sunni Roshi and Sunni Allah Roshi called and checked on me in the hospital. And Sangha members came and stayed and visited when they bought meals. And I was very tactile. And I was so touched, that they even offered to organize a healing chart for my arm. And we were really touched. Especially when you don't talk to people too much when we came to set, you know, and you didn't really know, people that Well, other than the parents group. But it was absolutely amazing. And this is before we had Kunal committee, so I don't know how they organize, but we always had a hot meal for days. She recovered completely and just went on like any other baby of Portugal's you know, beyond the previous stage. Then years later, when Maya was in middle school, we had a youth program with one year commitment. And then our niece, Sarah, she was brother's daughter. She also joined. They had various projects, what we can some summer at the Chapin Mill. It was hot air, because I heard a lot about being hot. And they also complained about the working in the garden in heat, because they had to bring this mulch and Sarah was really complaining. So they had various projects workshop that did the woodworking project that they absolutely love with Tom. And then finally, Amala Sensei said, they need to attend the workshop too. So then they came on Saturday workshop. And the next day, they were asked to come and sit. And it was absolutely amazing for me to be sitting with my daughters. It wasn't, I never thought that would happen. But he was a little kids. And there were several other kids. So now they know how to sit and keep this in their toolbox if they ever need just like I did. Just recently, one day, we were sitting in Colorado in molecules house, my first daughter and sitting around the dining table and we were just talking and the Zen central conversation came up in Maya and Sarah both said they got so much from going to the youth program, which surprised me because they were complaint. Well.
I also remember that Richard work with them on High School on how to write haiku poetry and they love that one mile Sara both said they got a lot out of going from the Youth Program. And just recently, a couple of weeks ago, Sarah was here with her new baby. She's seven months old, and her husband and they stayed with us. And then she asked me, When is the waist up? And I said, Well, it's always on Memorial Day. And he said, Will you think I can bring my my son and my husband to wake up? And I said, Of course you can. So that's the summer much they got from it? I think so takes two Amala Roshi, Richard, Dara, Sensei, Tom, Catherine, kanji Lewin and many and Truman, for for all your hard work for the youth program in the children's program. And later the youth program made it easier for me to come to the center and include my family. One more thing that helped me when with my practice was when we were looking for a house in Brighton. The house that we lived in was owned by a Catholic priest at University of Rochester. And he had built a little, a nice little library and a little little chapel in the basement. So it was like end of the basement and I we said I set up my cushion and things and when the kids were growing up and there was a lot of noise and all that I was able to take a little time and go down and set. So that was it, we still have that. So it was very nice to have that. When we saw the house, Shiva was saying, Oh, this would be a nice place for us. And the real estate agent said, Oh, you could use this room as a hobby. And we said, No, we have a better we have other uses we can use. So that was helpful too. Recently, and recently, I want to thank all the technical people who brings zoom settings to us. And so this was very helpful during the isolation. And even now I've been I'm lazy and I'm having be coming to the end, whether snowing and think about parking here, I just sit at the zoom. And it's just absolutely wonderful. Not as wonderful as sitting here. But it's still wonderful. So as you can see, there are many interrelated interconnected events and people who helped me to come to the path and keep me on the path. So, my gratitude to all and thank you.
Okay, great. You can stretch your legs now.
It was I think that's cushion was sliding.
Okay, so just bear with us join. I just need to do a couple of things with the technology. Because we do want to have a question answered period. We do have a little bit of time I believe. And yeah, and we'll also allow people on Zoom to ask questions as well as soon as I get this going. Thanks.
Joe, you got one more minute. Okay. Oh, one other thing too is so my Munna is just a little hard of hearing, so I'm gonna be her ears. So I'll probably end up repeating the question if she can't hear.
So feel free to ask me and he will repeat it for me if I need to. Because it's only somebody talks way back or softly, then I have a problem. I do have a hearing aid. But sometimes they don't work as well. That's why the phone is here so I can change the volume. Okay. I'm not going to check Facebook.
All right, so we're good to go. Does anybody have anything in the Zen? We'll start with people in the Zendo? First for a couple of questions. Oh, yes, Jess.
I'm wondering what it was like bringing your your children into the practice without getting into falling into a trap, maybe proselytizing when they're so young, and maybe they could be resistant to it or not really understand the full depth of what it could do for them.
But just, I think a lot of em was when we first started the children's program was just bring them in. So they're, they're exposed to it, they won't understand what's going on all effect until they're a little bit older. But it was it was just me here. And then when they were older, we just had like activities for them. So we did like Bing or some kind of origami or something. And they were like age appropriate so that we separate them in age. And we used to sit We used to meet in the dormitory over there. And so there's different rooms. And so, so one, we had volunteer parents who worked with children and men, the other parents could sit. And then 15 Melis, they came in for teisho first 15 minutes, the older kids or even younger brought everybody and I still remember that Roshi one time told the kids a little story about the holidays, the sock got on your, on your, on your feet. And he talked about all the interconnected events that brought the sock to your feed and the kids thought that was just absolutely wonderful. But they want a little older, not babies
Could you talk a little bit about having a teacher from from your childhood? And then also having accepting a teacher here at the Zendo? And how that was for you?
Yeah. Quick first question is about having to talk a little bit about a teacher in when you were in India. Oh, and then then having a teacher here. And how did that go?
Well, honestly, my grandma uncle. And we had a ceremony that everybody does. And by the time you're like, 16, or so you have a ceremony and you choose your teacher. But my teacher never asked me to marry. He taught me how to do it. And he was in my home. So he knows. And he just, he just never asked anyone if they wanted to, and they wanted a practice seriously, then he would counsel them if they can sort of like hear, you know? If so, I can say him a lot more, because I didn't really use what we told that much. I was 16. And I was 10 More in other interests.
And then, but then what about here? And
what about here? Yeah, it was a while before I Roshi. I went through ceremony was a while. So then I was, I didn't see big difference. I mean, we are married, we're doing meditation. You know, so I can't say a lot about how their practice work in that in India, because I didn't really move too far. So, so this is all I know it as far as that goes, you know, my, my practice with my teacher.
And actually related to that, my question was, when did you start doing machine? And what was that like the first time you did sesshin?
It was a while before I went to sessions to because I couldn't get away from the kids. Yeah, yeah. First, my first sesshin was here, when we will still didn't have the Chapin Mill. And I sat right over there. And two days, so she was very hard, where only thing I could compare was like labor. If I remember, one of the leaders telling me says, you made it, I would like and another problem I had that machine was there. I was drinking coffee. And we didn't have any coffee. So I started to help splitting headache the next day. And then I finally told the P, the leader Roshi with somebody else I can remember, maybe sooner sooner. And I think somebody gave me a will, if I would like, you don't need to deal with that. And then I think next day, I found out the person next to me didn't make it beyond one day, because he was gone. And that happens sometimes. But I was determined I was going to stay. So that was my first machine. And then after that, I started to sit more before I came at home, and here to whenever I was had opportunities, and so it got better like everybody else you know?
GCI Can you hear me? Yes. All right. Just checking in with people online if they have anything to say or any questions.
If there's someone that has a question or a comment, feel free to go ahead and unmute yourself
I'm gonna estimate I'm in Florida, and I can't remember a time when you were not there at the center in the 80s. Can you hear me?
I'll repeat the question. No, I'll repeat it. Yeah, it was a lane lane. Lane have run. Okay. Yeah. And she just say she can't recall a time where she did not see you here regularly at the center in the 80s and 90s. So yeah,
well Thank you see, well, she would too.
But it's nice to hear your story because like you said, there's not much talking there. And so I've seen people over many decades off, and I'm really, really looking forward to this talk and hear your story. It was wonderful. I'm, I'm, I'm India's in my heart.
She's thanking you. Okay. Thank you. But there was also my incentive to get off caffeine. So I did get off caffeine. Now I drink green tea in the morning, we bought Chu and I bought two. Yeah. And green tea has a little capping. But it was used that I didn't even drink green tea, because I was so worried that I didn't want to go through that headache again. Because it was like, it just totally knocked you off. In addition to all the leg pain and the back pain and everything else. Public Service Announcement, did you now serve coffee during? Okay, I missed that.
We do serve coffee now. And so
I know that I don't drink. But there's also green tea. So that is good.
How was your transition coming from India, to this culture?
Oh, my goodness, I think that would take a long time. But I can tell you one thing that really impressed me was that see i As you can see, I was part of a community. And my father was well known. My family was well known in town. So we had to behave. So when we came here, when I came here, I was fascinated that individualism. People could do whatever they want. They don't have to worry about what their family but I didn't have a family, you know, so I had my brother and sister in law, but they had already lived here for a while. No, they came here as students so
so you experience a little more freedom?
Well, the freedom impressed me but as I stayed longer, I see it. I saw the problems with that, too. Yes. So but in the beginning, it did. Another thing that impressed me was you can have any job. It didn't matter what class you came from. And that was impressive to me. And then organization of everything because in India, I don't know if you're anybody anybody's been lived in India, things are like, somehow things happen. But it's not like everything works. But it's different. It was different. And not as many people on the street that there was something because they were very populated country lidium
by mood I'm just curious what year it was that you first came here that you contacted the center to try
to pick it was like 86 Already some people have contacted three times you know, yeah, I wouldn't go away.
And then maybe just one more question. I
think Luca that's something Yeah, just wanted to thank you, Mona. This has been an amazing Thank you look into your life that you know, I wouldn't have gotten otherwise. And it's so worthwhile and enriching to hear about your, your arc through all of these different phases of your life. When I first started sitting, I lived in Madison and one thing I do regularly is dig around in the the podcast archives and listen to every camp coming to the paths I could possibly find because it was really fascinating and encouraging to hear from different folks and so I'm really glad that you're part of that list
it my gratitude to Roshi Absolutely I wouldn't be here without recite before about