Updated on January 8, 2012
Bhante Kassapa Bhikkhu
“A pay phone was ringing, and it just about blew my mind.
When I picked it up and said hello this foot came through the line…”
Bob Dylan’s 113th Dream.
I was talking to my daughter about something, I don’t remember what, but I was about to say it “blew my mind.” I’ll never abandon the ideals of the hippie movement, but I’m the first to agree that many of its idioms should be left behind, and this may be one of them.
We talked about it and decided that I should just say it “changed everything I think about everything.” I was touched when she put up a comment on the entry about Ernie Pyle’s column “This Dreadful Masterpiece
“This changed everything I think about everything,” she said. I feel the same way. It is a truly breathtaking piece of writing.
I met a guy in Port Arthur, Texas, Bhante Kassapa Bhikkhu, who in a few moments, changed everything I think about everything. I was with a bunch of travel writers at the Buu Mon Temple and we had just been in Shangri-La and we had wanted to stay there. Can you blame us?
So we might have been a teeny bit grumpy, but after meeting and talking with Bhante Kassapa for a few minutes and touring the temple gardens, I felt this overhwhelming sense of peace and happiness, and all the other writers said they felt the same thing.
It was partly his words and his message: anyone can attain enlightenment, happiness is always within reach, everything you’ve always believed deep down inside is true after all.
It’s a great message, but there was something else that went beyond what he said. I can’t put my finger on it, but it was unmistakable. We all felt it. And I still feel it. It changed the way I read a newspaper and the way I fold my rain gear.
It’s surprising how much happier you can be if you’re not aggravated by human stupidity, greed and folly or frustrated by inanimate objects.
Bhante Kassapa served in the US Air Force and later became a Franciscan monk. Then he left the order and worked for the US Aviation Administration for 17 years before becoming a Buddhist monk at the Buu Mon Temple in Port Arthur.
Once I checked, I found he has lots of fun clips on YouTube. Here he replies to a guy who asks him why he turned his back on God
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Stephen Hartshorne worked in newspapers and magazines around New England for many years and served as Information Officer in the New Hampshire Senate under Senate President Vesta Roy. He worked as a material handler for nine years at the Yankee Candle Company until the company was taken over by corporate weasels. He is currently the associate editor of GoNOMAD.com, an alternative travel website, which gives him the opportunity to correspond with writers and photographers all over the world. He lives in Sunderland, Massachusetts. This blog is dedicated to his mom, who made him bookish.