Sunday, June 28, 2009

Everything has been downhill since we left Doi Suthep Monastery in both senses. It’s on a high hill and can easily be seen from below in Chaing Mai at night because of the brilliant lights reflecting off of the gigantic gold-plated stupa, (center of the mandala-designed inner courtyards and home of the Buddha bone relic). Our 7 day Vapassana meditation retreat at Doi Suthep changed our consciousnesses in some wonderful ways, and we just plain had a fabulous stay there. 700 years of Buddhist Monks chanting every morning and evening and the Buddha bone relic has created a spiritual heaven here. We come away with regret at leaving and very happy to have had the experience.
What was it? The glorious rich golden light from the stupa at night and the first morning light for chanting in the vaulted sanctuary – the presence of so much condensed Spirit Presence over so many years? The humble, “detached from the world” natures of the monks – the golden Buddha statues everywhere - - the chance to meditate for hours without interruption or impending responsibility? - - the simple Vapassana technique of watching the belly move in and out while noting rising, falling with the breath, hence learning a whole lot about quieting the mind and staying out of the way of ONE.
It isn’t like the monastery didn’t have psychic thickness of all kinds of beings, attracted and remaining there for centuries on end - - it did. It wasn’t that there weren’t hundreds to thousands of gawking tourist every day pouring through this Holy place with probably very little consciousness of where they were - - ringing the bells as much as possible, hanging on the bells for pictures, cuddling up to the dragon statues like they were best friends (I did this too, but perhaps they are) - - and the throngs of devout Buddhist lay peoples who bowed and proffered candles and flowers and prayers with profusion. The daytime circus of visiting people was handled superbly by the monastery and by the evening and morning chants the psychic air was cleared and pure again. We received blessings from the monks many of which really were strong and true. It’s nice to buy a gift and have the seller bless and chant over it for several minutes with pure heart and beautiful being - -we went back several times to one beautiful love and kindness being.
I very truthfully love the place and will always remember it. I have a much better understanding of Buddhism and have a lot more questions at the same time. Jennata had the huevos to ask our Vapassana monk teacher if he knew about and gave shaktipat - - he stuttered a bit and said something about having to practice for years and years, and we felt so lucky.
The practice he gave us of watching our belly rise and fall and repeating “rising, falling” with the cyclic breath, and repeatedly going back to this with each monkey mind deviation from the routine was very helpful mind training, and the walking practice with four part, “lift heel, lift foot, transverse forward, lower foot” all done in very slow motion and with utmost consciousness, really showed me how much “monkey” is still running loose in this mind - - very embarrassing and helpful - - this one, at times looking a bit like a drunken sailor, is now a great fan of walking mindful practice. We’ll do “around the dome at Nimboli walking practice” with a lot more consciousness now. The no talking and separate rooms helped the practice as well.
We visited quite a few “golden monasteries” in Chaing Mai – easy to do, as they are around each corner, just about. The openness and welcoming presence of all of them is impressive - - loving kindness on a stick - -well done. The statues of Buddha were so tall and so Gold and so lit, and so imbued with presence, that bowing the forehead to the floor three times, the standard practice, hardly seemed enough. And then there were the statues of the lineage and the statues of what appeared to be Patanjali and the 5 or 7 Nagas forming a Naga crown over his head, and the statues of the revered elder Monks, and the beefy protector guys who looked like a slightly historic Nordic powerhouses, and Manjusri cutting everything to pieces into One . There was a guy sitting in focused one­-pointed-meditation in one of the galleries of an especially impressive black and gold decor temple, who i respected very much because of his one ponted concentration in the midst of the big influx of Buddhist devotees during a holiday celebration. Jenatta says he was a statue, but i must insist she objectified the guy and couldn’t see his real nature. We shall have to return and pinch him to find out. I hope he is alive and doesn’t flinch with the pinch.
After months in Nimboli, which we love dearly, it wazzzz a joy to have coffee houses and great restaurants on every block. The Thais know how to cook. You probably knew that, and so i had heard, but proof is in the pudding, and we had some great meals. If i really liked to shop, i could go on and on about the silk and the fashions and the clever designs, and on and on, but since i really don’t get off on it that much, this is as on and on as i get about shopping, but check in with Jenatta, and know that a shopper, even though there are great price deals here, should arrive with lots of dough and suitcases.
The Thai people have beauty coming out of their pores which shows up everywhere. Orchids greet you as soon as you exit the airplane and flowers are everywhere. And they have some very admirable cultural traditions. Children are taught to remember to be happy whenever they hear a bell ringing, which must keep them happy all the time because of the heavy density of monasteries and trigger happy rope pullers. It really makes one want to ring a bell if it’s going to make everyone happy. Another is, respect elders, and monks, and anyone who is politically advantaged to you. The bowing with respect can be very wonderful and also an impediment at times. Who to bow to and how low to bow and how high to place your prayer hands gesture is complicated. We were excused as ignorant foreigners, so anything we did was appreciated.
A language where you have to change pitch and do variable stretches of duration of different sounds to get the meaning across is just too much to contemplate - - might as well sing - - and the writing, forget it - - adding little dips and swirls and circles everywhere made me dizzy just to look at it - - it does make English look and sound kind of boring though.
We did take a 5 day course in Thai massage and I’m hoping Jenatta remembers it well so that I’ll get the benefit when we get back to Nimboli-ing. Not like any massage I’ve ever known, is Thai massage – possibly the best. We had a great time and a great teacher - - her name is OM – and that probably had a lot to do with it. I now know how to step on your body, sit on your body, place my knee in the most excruciating samskara loaded places, and yoga stretch you out of your monkey mind – -get in line.
Well, it is nearly time to board the big Thai bird to Mumbai for re-entry to India. We are returning with a great dose of the more feminine Thai nature and some great ideas for implementation at Nimboli. Please check in for further blogs from the “get your visa stamped adventurers” - - Jenatta and dewadas. Love and impermanence and happiness and rising-falling bellies. J and d

No comments:

Post a Comment