One more wat story before we leave
The gong rang again at nearly 4, and I rushed out of my room, flashlight bobbing in the black night. There were seven monks and five of us chanters (well, four of the chanters and me, a listener). The deep voices of the monks and the higher voices of the women merged into some ancient harmony with the roosters to call out a random rhythm. When the chanting was done, the head monk, the guru of the place, talked about the practice of meditation and how we all needed to focus on our practice and be mindful all the time about all things. This seemed like a high standard, but who was I to mention it. At the end of the talk, he called over to Aeh and me (I stand out in this country, and in a crowd of five, I’m irresistible). He spoke in gentle Thai, which Aeh translated in my ear. He wanted to know why I was there, how I was finding the place. He wanted me to be sure to keep meditating when I got home and told me about why that was so vital. He wanted me to know that he’d been to the
The sincerity of his offer—and the truth of it, since you can go to a wat and stay as long as you like—carried me home along the dark path. I went back to my hut, filled with images of home in expanded rings around the world. I meditated in the dark quiet (after first checking to see that my many-toed friend was still in his crack). I began to feel that the air around me was viscous and electric, that it was charged full of love and that I was breathing in and out the love in the air. I thought about my family and friends, about each of you reading this blog, about Aeh and Gig, about my hutmate, about everyone whose life touches mine. I felt tears running down my face as I breathed in the simple and clear truth that the only thing that counts is love, the only reason to live is love, and our only job on this planet is to love one another well. At 7 am, I walked slowly to another breakfast the nuns had prepared for me and watched the lotus flowers bloom with the first touch of the sun.
I didn’t have an experience of that meditative space again. The monk had also given me other directions for my meditation which, when followed, made me alternately frustrated and intensely bored. Sometimes simultaneously. But I made many slow and mindful walks across the old wooden bridge, and I followed my breath on a pier over the lotus flowers. And I made a beginning, and felt it charged with love. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Pictures today: Walking meditation path through the forest; village women preparing breakfast for the monks; ever present roosters on the path in front of my hut; the many toed creature who didn't walk in my hair (but did sleep in my room); my hutmate and me on the steps of our hut. The admittedly boring video below is taken so you can have a sense of the bridge where I spent oodles of time in sitting and walking meditation.