Sunday, June 04, 2006

Life in an Ocean of Orange....

Monks and novices at the temple in Nongkhai where I'm staying.

Phra Soonthorndhammathada, Abbott of the temple in Nongkhai where I am living. The Abbott is also the Director of the Buddhist University and Chair of the Education Committee for 15 of Thailand's 76 provences. Phra Soonthorndhammathada is a 74 year old, grandfatherly type figure. He received in PhD from a University in India and speaks good English. He has taken me under his wing and is helping me to understand Buddhism. Each night after chanting, which goes from 7:30 p.m. to about 10:00 p.m. the Abbott has me come to his upstairs room where he reads me the English version of his doctorate paper, which we then discuss. He has been giving me books to read on Buddhism and talking with me about them. The learning curve is straight up for me... but I'm learning a lot. And the more I learn... the more I learn I need to learn.

Trip to a vipassana or insight meditation center....

On Saturday, June 3rd, Phra Soonthorndhammathada, the Abbott, took me to an vispanna insight meditation center located about 50 kilometers from Nongkhai. The Abbott's teacher, Ajaan Pa Yoon, now dead, had his body enshrined in a glass casket inside the mediation hall. A little, dwarf type looking monk met us upon arrival, and after paying respects of the dead Ajaan and the Buddha, I was given a lesson in how to meditate using vispanna techniques. The Abbott informed me that insight meditation and concentration meditation are two different things. Where as in concentration meditation one sits in the lotus position, back straight, with hands held in one's lap, ...... in insight medidation, the legs are bent at the knees, one leg to the right (or left) side of the body and the other foot of the left leg touching the uppper leg. Then... a series of graceful and precise handmovements are made in the seated, standing and laying down positions. I was enthralled as I watched the monk go through the series of movements... and before long, he had me following along. Fascinating meditation practice!

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