Buddhism Section Updated on ThaiPulse

I spent a couple hours today transferring over some of the Buddhist temple and meditation retreat information from the old TP site to the new one (www.ThaiPulse.com). There are many photos – probably 50 or more of Wat Suan Mokkh, Wat Pah Nanachat, Wat Tum Sua, Wat Tum Sang Phet and then if you really want to knock your self out you can see either the photo section of the old ThaiPulse site or see some of my photos up at Flickr.

My Thailand Photos at Flickr.

I think I have 600 photos of Thailand there at the present and in the process of uploading another 7,000 approximately. No I’m not uploading all my junk shots – these are my better than average shots.  The first photos you’ll see there are my beer bottle temple photos of a cool Buddhist temple in Sisaket’s countryside.

Here’s a better link that goes straight to my Thai photo sets so you can choose for yourself what you want to look at: Thailand photo sets

Meditation Overnighter, without the Overnight

Arrived at the Krabi wat about 7:30am and took some time to see the caves again and walk the forest on a “break the spider’s webs with your face because you’re the first dummy to walk around today” routine. I used to do the same dumb thing riding the mountain bike in Florida and Hawaii through the woods… I’d have spider webs all over my face and spiders down my back, in my hair. Krabi is such a beautiful place that the spiders are almost negligible.

Thailand SpiderSpiders in Thailand are nothing to mess with though. Here’s one I saw 2 days ago at a small cave…

There’s maybe 200 steps to see the caves, 100 up, over the hill, and 100 down into the valley to see the caves, back up 100 and down 100 to sea-level. I then go load up at the convenience mart on food. They have little that I like so I get some of those raisin breads in plastic and 3 of the white bread with green pudding stuff on the top. I bought 2 small bags of peanuts on the walk to the wat for 5b each. I found bananas at a roadside stand and bought 6 small “apple-bananas” as we call them in Hawaii, for 10 baht. Expensive, oh well.

I start up the 1,237 steps that lead to the top of the mountain here in Krabi, and the Chedi and Buddhas. I hear tourists yelling above me and I’m only 80 steps into the climb. Rocks start flying over the hill and more tourists screaming. A brick hits a few yards in front of me and I recognize that it’s not quite time to go up the mountain, the MONKEYS ARE RESTLESS!

Just as I realize it’s the nutty monkeys, two of the bastards come around a rock and grab the 2 liter water bottle from my hand and rip it open with their teeth – all within striking distance. I don’t strike, I’m a meditator today, today I just watch and laugh… thinking about the bamboo stick I’m going to find to whack these twisted thieving human rejects with. I hear a girl still screaming and look up once more to see her wearing a monkey attached to her chest and trying to get into the purse and bag she’s holding above her head.

I think for a couple seconds about giving them back 80 steps of the hill. I decide on a retreat. We all do. Rocks are still flying over the hill. The monkeys grabbed everything the first group ahead of me brought. All the fruit, offerings to Buddha, water bottles and almost a purse. I go buy some more water. 3 small bottles. “30 baht”, she says. WHAT? 10 baht for a small water? She confirms. I shake my head thinking – they’re robbing me at the temple.

I relax a bit, watch a girl with her mom that dragged her to the temple to talk to the monk – probably she was a bad girl, she’s embarrassed and her mom is a bit angry. The monk is very friendly.

I head back up the mountain.

The monkeys are sitting like ducks – yet I don’t strike. They are picking each other clean of mites, ticks, fleas, whatever they have – and eating them. Guess they had enough of the tourists’ food for a while.

I walk by, almost stepping over them. They virtually ignore me. I walk up and up and up. I stop a couple times when I see a long section lit up by the sunshine. The sun is wicked hot in the am. It’s now about 8:30am.

I make it to the top and I’m sweating hard. I’m the first one up for the day and I drink some of the cold water from the cooler. Then I take some of the warm / un-cooled water and douse my shirt with it – ringing it out. I put it on and cool enough. I walk around, scout for meditation spots and shoot some video. Sorry, video upload will need to wait until I’m at a broadband shop, as it’s around 40 megs and I don’t want to shrink it and lose quality.

I choose a spot facing the Southwest mountains and sit down for a few hours. Meditation has changed for me since I stopped 10 years ago. It seems that whenever I meditate now there is not really a need to focus on the breath. No need to totally relax… it just comes. It’s there almost instantly. I experience a “no-thought” state just about as soon as I sit. I found that I can do it anytime I choose for as long as I choose. It’s strange.

When I started to meditate – by focusing on the breath with eyes closed and sitting cross-legged usually, I would start by focusing on the breath. Eventually the mind calmed and I’d lose feeling in extremities and then whole-body and then I’d progress through jhana when the state of no-thought occured.

Now- it’s always no thought if I choose. Strange. I am usually not in many levels of jhana anymore, unless I choose to start focusing on the breath.

Today I did a little focus on the breath, but the pain in my back was overpowering. I have not meditated in any serious way for about 10 years. My back just wasn’t ready to sit in that position for the few hours that I did.

Wat Tam Sua, Krabi, ThailandI stopped meditating about 3:30 pm and called it a day. As I was eating down n the 3rd level a guy walked by with some toilet paper. I told him, they locked the door to the toilet. No toilet. He started to walk back, I encouraged him to give it a try on the walkway down below – but to be careful as he’d be visible from 2nd and 1st level to unsuspecting tourists. He gave it his best shot apparently because when he came back up he was rubbing his belly and saying, “oh, ohhhhhhh” joking around. HAHHA. They DO have a sense of humor in Russia too I suppose.

I walked around and took some photos and thought maybe I’d return tomorrow if I took some paracetemol or some other pain-killer that didn’t make me tired, wired, dizzy, or weird.

I walked down and literally stepped OVER the monkey tales that lined the steps from about steps 100 to 30.

A good day, I spent much of the time in the “PRESENT” which is where I hoped to be today.

Now, posting what might be my last blog here for a bit as I’ve sold this computer and the phone I use as a modem to connect online.

The rest of my posts will be from the internet cafe before I leave Thailand – and will probably be lacking photos and videos since I can’t edit them with the software I prefer…

Ok, that’s it… !

Aaaaaooooooommmmm…

Is Buddhism not Important Anymore?

Buddhist monk boy with box turtleI visited a Buddhist temple the other day… It was incredible, very nice, traditional…

Then as I circled around to the back of the temple there was a small convenience store that had some tall girls looking out over the temple – and, it appeared… at me.

As I got closer I realized they were ladyboys, “katoey” boys dressed as girls. They were talking to me and telling me to come and buy something… and asking if they were “suay” – pretty. I was laughing at the absurdity of it all when one of them – then the other as well started giving me the tongue in the cheek and the fist up to the mouth routine.

What? They were going to give me oral sex in the store overlooking the Buddhist Temple?

I’m wondering if Thailand is in a steady decline as far as morals, and traditions go. When I got here a couple years ago I really loved the people… it was refreshing to see how they had respect for the elders and each other… and even for strangers. I was in the Isaan region and there is quite a bit MORE respect shown among people there than other places.

Pattaya? There is none. Bangkok – sometimes.

Now that I’ve been here a little while I am starting to find out that it used to be SO MUCH BETTER here… Friends have told me how it was 10, 20 years ago and it sounds like paradise…

At another temple I was at 2 weeks ago I saw a lot of boy monks under age 14 running around and playing games. One of them threw a box turtle about as big as my hand on the sand from a distance of about 2 feet. Another couple boys were lighting rockets from various places around the temple grounds. Other kids were playing chase. Others were banging on the drums, ringing the bells, talking on cell phones and eating candies.

I think it’s inevitable that Thailand becomes as bad as the USA is in terms of respect that we have for each other. It’s sad, and makes me wonder if there are other countries where people treat each other with more respect than Thailand. Anyone know any? I don’t.

In think that the ones with western abbots like Wat Pah Nanachat in Warin Chamrap close to Ubon Ratchathani and Suan Mokkh in Chaiya, near Surat Thani are run much more traditionally. Perhaps because they both get a LOT of visitors. The wats I usually visit are those that don’t have visitors, and they’re out of the way.

In general it seems that the older the monk population, the more traditionally it’s run. Is that right?

If the temple is full of 20 something monks I usually see lots of things that aren’t really traditional Buddhist practice going on.

What have you seen? Anything out of the ordinary – or different from what you expected to see at the temple?

Baby in a Fishtank… (Buddhism and Impermanence)

Baby in a fishtank, Buddhism and impermanence

There’s something about a baby in a fishtank.

In biology we all saw the pig head or frogs bobbing
up and down in a glass bottle with a screwed on
plastic lid. And that was OK. That was even fun.

We had more fun dissecting those frogs and pigs
than kids really, genuinely had a need for. It was
fantastic fun and those were the days…

Fast forward 20 years. Moved to Thailand to
broaden my “worldview”. Visited a wat (temple)
in the northeast and saw this at an outdoor hall.
Now, I’m not easily offended as you might imagine.

There isn’t a whole lot I haven’t seen in person or
on the internet. But, a dead baby in a fishtank had
to be a “first”.

Now, had I seen this in a more controlled
environment… a morgue, a doctors office, a
university lab… then there might be very little I
had to say about it at all. No, it was the environ-
ment that shocked me and I’m not really sure why.

I understand why the baby was there and the
skeleton with it. The Buddhists believe that life is
impermanent – everything is impermanent. To
cling to something that will surely pass – is folly.
It causes pain. Emotional pain. The Buddhists
seek to rid themselves of pain.

But, couldn’t they have put the baby’s skeleton
there instead? I think what bothered me is that
it was there – kind of open to the animals – if any
wanted to get into it. Not that they would, the
smell of formaldehyde must be a strong
enough repellent. But, the animal would have to
break open the fishtank to even smell the
chemical… and once broken… well, there’s the
kid laying on the floor…

I once had an experience while meditating in
which I was seeing / sensing something in the
carpet as I stared. It was not a boy nor a girl,
and yet “both” in some way… it was “life” in
some fashion… and it was related in someway
or had a connection to my mom, myself and my
wife at the time.

The next night my wife screamed from the
shower… I ran in and saw what we both
couldn’t believe… she had miscarried right
there and it was the unmistakeable form
of a very small fetus about the size of an
inch – covered with small placenta and a
lot of blood…

Maybe this is why the baby so close to the
ground bothered me so much… not sure.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever seen
something like this? On TV? On the internet?