Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Living with Monks

As I said in my last post, John and I heard about a Monastery we could stay at. So knowing nothing more than it's name (and an incorrect pronunciation at that) we boarded the local bus and went bouncing through the mountains to Wat Tam Wua. I was expecting a small gathering of huts around a temple and some stoic monks who grudgingly allow westerners to live at the monastery. It was just about the opposite.
First of all, the property was amazing. I think there may only be a handful of more beautiful monasteries in the world. When we were riding the bus and came into its valley, I thought, "Wow, this is the prettiest valley I've seen in all of Thailand." And then the bus came to a stop, and the driver yelled, "Wat Tam Wua." One of the other westerners staying there said that it seemed more like a Buddhist spa rather than a Buddhist Monastery. Though a monastery it surely was, and for four days, we followed the rules. The structure wasn't as intense as some retreats, but there was still almost five hours of daily meditation, only two meals a day, and an hour of chore work on the property. There were three resident monks, and they were so happy and easy going that it would have been hard to get annoyed at anything in their presence. Staying there, it was good to experience some structure--something my life has been utterly lacking for the last three months. It wasn't so structured that it felt like a prison, but it was structured enough to give the sense of free time. It actually gave an interesting perspective on free time. Usually free time is between periods of work when you can do nothing. At the monastery, free time was between periods of doing nothing when you could do something.

Walking in

The property

Sunrise in the valley

Meditation cave


The main meditation room

Where I did yoga

Where we slept

The morning we left

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