I had the privilege of spending 10 years overseas between late April 1967 and early May of 1977.
It took me 10 years and 10 days to make a single circumnavigation of the Earth.
During these years, I wrote an aerogram every week or two, and some letters home, to my parents living in Sanderstead, Surrey, England.
My mother kept every one of them in a shoe box. She gave the shoe box to me when I returned home. She asked me to write a memoir of these years overseas, including the six years as a Buddhist monk.
I put the shoe box in the loft and promptly got on with more important matters. My mother would ask me annually if I had started work on the memoir. Years passed by. About a decade ago, I finally started work on this period.
I wrote around 50,000 words of the first years of the time overseas and gave three of the chapters to my mother to read. It pleased her that I made a start. We found the chapters in the bottom drawer of her bedside cabinet after she died.
As a teacher of the emptiness of ‘I’ and ‘my,’ I felt it somewhat ironic to write 100,000 words of a book saturated with ‘I’ and ‘my.’ It is not surprising that I put off starting this book for 30 years and then went another 10 years without writing another word.
Once again, I went onto write about more important matters.
I asked Aspasia, who lives near Exeter, if she would come and file 300 – 400 aerogrammes, letters and around 10 diaries covering the years on the road. This is the information she received from me to help her put the messages home in chronological order.
Latter part of April 1967 to early May 1977
- 1967 Croydon (UK), France, Germany, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Sikkim, Nepal.
- 1968. Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Darwin, Brisbane, Sydney, Australia.
- 1968. Sydney, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Darwin, Australia.
- 1969. Australia, Portuguese East Timor, Lombok, Bali, Java, Sumatra, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos.
- 1970 to 1974. Thailand. Buddhist monk.
- 1974 to 1976. India and Sri Lanka. Buddhist monk.
- 1976 – 1977. Thailand, Hong Kong, South Korea, San Francisco, New York and Croydon.
The work on the memoir gets underway again tomorrow (Friday 22 December 2017).
Sometimes, I did not write a date in the aerogramme; the post office date stamp is sometimes hard to read. I wrote down for Aspasia the years and locations of the travels if she cannot see the dates on the paper.
My beloved Dharma friends have taken up the issue of the memoir after the death of my remarkable mother a couple of years ago, aged 94 years, 11 months and 10 days.
Friends ask me regularly if I plan to write a book on these years in the East. One longstanding Dharma friend in Brisbane kindly gave me A$500 dana (donation) to get on with it. They can see that King Yama (the Lord of Death) circles around me (aged 73) with increasing interest.
I have just completed a book for a Brighton publisher on ethics, mindfulness, empathy, spirituality and freedom. I have made a resolution to devote as much of 2018 needed for the memoir. I have put it off for 40 years.
I have run out of excuses.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR