Fragment from a recent letter:
"...Perhaps there are different kinds of opportunities to practice in this hi_tech jungle? My meditating friend PR shows how it is possible...''
Your meditating friend PR makes me think of some Oriental people that I have briefly known in London & Watford. Particularly nurses, who would show impressive skill & patience during incredibly long shifts. The significance of this was not appreciated until, here at Wat Pa Baan Taad, I met a Bhikkhu ordained just for the rains (LTMB never normally allows this). He is a nurse of Commodore rank in the Thai navy. He told me that they routinely worked, between actual duty & voluntary projects, something like 20hrs a day, i.e. four hours sleep was quite normal for him too.
A further observation at Wat Thai, Wimbledon, several years ago. For the whole Summer, visiting almost every Sunday morning, I was able to observe the enthusiasm of many of the children, perhaps 6 to 12yrs old, as they went to meditation lessons held especially for them by senior Bhikkhus.
So, where this is all leading to is a scenario that goes something like this:
A Thai or Chinese child starts meditating at about the age of say six (I've been told that children of this age learn it very easily). By the time they are twelve they are quite skilled at it. They then go through secondary & higher education well equipped to deal with all it's stresses. They can then enter a profession, such as the medical, & give to it a commitment worthy of the 'monastic' traditions. The final result is a highly accomplished being. But the best part of it is that they can spot another meditator a mile away: something I noticed very early on in my practice.
Not that I want to detract from the Bhikkhu life: the responsibility of the Sangha is to ensure that the Dhamma is passed on to the next generation with it's vitality & relevance intact.