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Hommage Ginsgberg

June 22, 2014

Poets scream from urban shit holes with words of desperate angst

The world fucked is unfit for human consumption as souls cry with plaintiff tones of dread

Medication rocks the synaptic roller coaster that drives the daily breathe…oh buddha bless the blood we see

Our souls cry out to thee…Howl and Howling be thy name….

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September 13, 2012

When My Testicles Touched The Ground

December 2, 2011

An American.  Always cause for alarm.  He is a writer, he has lived in Japan for over 46 years.  I first learnt of him from the New York Review of Books.  During his interview he was asked the obvious question, ‘Why have you lived outside your culture for so long?”  He gave an answer that resonated  with me as an ex-pat Aussie who had spent many years in Thailand.  It was the beginning of my new life in a culture that I knew little of other than secondary text books that spoke of Rubber and its production in a land that seemed  exotic and remote.  Siam was how the country of Thailand used to be called. I knew little.  Strangely, in retrospect, I had spent a year as a Novice in a religious Order, the Redemptorists, founded by an Italian, Alphonsus Ligouri, in a Novitiate in a remote town in the Rivernina called Galong.  This religious order was founded in Australia by a small group of Irish Priests and Brothers who  were Missionaries. During that time there were two fellow novices who were from Thailand. My memories of these young men was that they exuded a scent of of cleanliness, a smell that I had not experienced before.  I was a 19 year old from the Melbourne suburbs.  I knew nothing of Asia.  The American Author, when asked as to why he had come to Japan and stayed for 46 years, replied : When I came here my testicles touched the ground, but the more important reason for his staying so long was, in his words, was, here, I like myself.  This was what I identified with mostly.  I had visited Thailand twice in one year.  The culture was immediately attractive to me.  The intrinsic connection between buddhism and the Thai culture was like a magnet.  I was to spend the next ten years of my life living in the Kingdom of Thailand.  Here I was comfortable with myself.  I was a gay man in a sea of rice.  Within three weeks I was to become a guest lecturer in a Buddhist University in the North of Thailand in the second largest city of  Thailand, Chiangmai.  I taught monks, young men who, due to their poverty , were able to receive a University education and graduate with a degree in Education or Buddhism.  It was a privilege to teach the rural poor, who came from Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Burma.  These young men were eager to learn,their respect for a teacher was something that I never experienced in the suburban education ghettoes of Australia.  I taught along side Buddhist monks who not only welcomed me  but  encouraged me in my efforts to instruct but to nurture young minds.  I will never forget the morning after class when I was walking out of the University and addressed a young monk by saying: ‘Were you in my class today?  He replied, ‘Thank you for the one Man Show”  What joy overwhelmed me.  Often I stood in front of 50 students, monks, clad in saffron robes.  I asked “Are those monks members of my class?”  ‘No’ I was told.  They have come into your class, not as your students but because they found you fascinating” I was overwhelmed by their curiosity and yearning for knowledge.  I spent four years teaching these young men.  I learnt so much about Thai culture and Buddhism.  I was interviewed on Thai Radio as a Westerner.  I spoke of my being a Westerner in a Buddhist Culture.  I was addressed as ‘Ajarn’, it is the same title as ‘Professor”…I still use it today not as some  leverage of superiority but far more easier than ‘Lloyd’ which for the t\Thais is too difficult to pronounce.

During my ten years in the Kingdom nobody knew me as ‘Lloyd’ but only as ‘Ajarn”…My thai partner, Samran, has never addressed me by my name but only as Ajarn, it is  term of respect, whether I deserve it or not is not the issue.  In Thai culture respect for elders is a ‘sine qua non’.  One is never invisible  due to ones age.  In the West elders are not always acknowledged.  Our indigenous people have understood  this for thousands of years.

So often I yearn for joys I experienced  living in an Asian culture.  It was Paul Keating who said: ‘Not only should we engage in Asia at the level of trade but also we should engage emotionally.  As a gay male approaching my 67th year  I feel that I have done my part.

As the discourse politically speaks of asianisation in our region, I am grateful for those 10 years that I was able to learn and understand, as an Australian, what Azia offers us…

Restlessness

May 21, 2011

The young boy sat in the back seat of his parents car with his grandmother.   They drove through a medium sized American town.  And Ken recounted his experience some 60 years later to me in a Bangkok Restaurant.  As they were driving through town his grandmother commented “Why do these people look so restless?”  It was the 1940’s. It was a time before Universities had Departments of Sociology or as one conservative colleague used say : “Department of Trendology’.  This woman was born in the Nineteenth Century.    Yet she was a social commentator, she was describing not only what she saw but in some way how she felt.  

Had she lived to see the Technological Revolution, like so many of her generation, she would have been overwhelmed.  But I see a restlessness in the midst of the digital express train, bullet train in this case.  Everyone is busy.  If you are not seen as busy you are of little worth.  The eminent Australian Researcher Hugh McKay describes it as “T he Theory of Distraction”.  Reflection has little Kudos in our society.  Little wonder people seek meditation and Yoga.  We live in an intensely neurotic world.  ‘Catch up soon”, ‘Busy now but will call you”….People at tables in cafes corroded to iPhones like robotic automons…distracting themselves at every opportunity to download an app, check Faux Book, decipher emails, or just blankly send text messages for reasons that bewilder.  

Mindfulness does not seem to impinge in the West the way it does in the East.  We are urgent about our daily lives.  How often do we remain still.  I think the first Retreat I attended was as a 14 year old school boy.  I remember the silence.  It appealed and later in life I was to experience two weeks of silence.  At 18 it was an amazing experience albeit within the walls of a Catholic Seminary.

We need each other as psychiatrists.  It is our moral duty to heal one another.  Whether we can do that digitally I am doubtful.  I remember a wiser man than myself saying to me, “When you are controlling the madness that is fine, the problem arises when the madness controls you”.

We needs rest from time to time.  Without rest we can only be restless.

March 24, 2011

Concerto

March 15, 2011

For me the strike of the keyboard is like the composition of an opus…one friend describes his work environment as saving lives with every stroke of the keyboard.  The link between music and language is not a new one.

There must be some teknology that links all of it together in some cohesive way…if not, I am happy…

Cardiologist

March 11, 2011

It was a clinic, The Heart Clinic, that I had the appointment with Dr Nopporat….he was young and cheeky, it was a rapid connection.  Of course I grilled him on his medical credentials the first visit.  Handsome and charming come to mind.  He had  my number within weeks.. I said “Have you been to Australia?”  ‘Yes”…he replied.  ‘And what do you remember?”  I was being stern.  “South Australia” he said.  I said, “The wine”…he said, ‘Yes”……Cardio Connexions…The second visit I took a bottlae of aussie red from South Australia…he thanked me with that asian insrcutability, I am sure there was Chinese blood in his veins.  He was a fervent Buddhist.  I used give him books to read by Venrable Than Nich …..he assumed they were a gift not a loan of books in the way we share with our friends.

All the nurses had that youthful admiration of Dr Nopporat, and he was a handsome man.

I always wore scarves or beads to meet my cardiologist, Dr Nopporat.

He used to call me in Thai, Professor..

It was a linguistic game.  He was barely over 40 and switched on.  He was serious about medicine, about cardiology research.  It was not difficult for me to listen to this man and his youthful wisdom.  He was always suppportive.  I guess hypochondriacs are drawn to the medical profession.  I have always found healers.  From Malvern to Fitzroy, from Flemington to Elwood.

The last I heard from Nopporat was an email.

I wrote to tell him I was back in Australia with a medical nightmare ..

He sent a simple email back to me;

Ajarn breathe…

Dedicated to all the amazing thai people whom I touched and whom I was touched by…