Two weeks ago I left Chaiya.
I remember fireflies, bugs, ants. I remember lizards, snakes, spiders, geckos, and I surely remember them mosquitoes. I recall being amazed by the beautiful lush scenery, the palm trees, alleys, pathways. The hot hotsprings, cool meditation halls, ponds and grass. Grass as the heart of the Garden of Liberation.
I remember the simile about life not being like a high mountain to climb in order to reach its peak (perfection strive mode) but rather being many hills. And on these hills there is sunshine, rain, snow, wind. The choice to go up & down & around them is ours. We can always choose to enjoy the natural landscape of this life. I remember ‘meditation is like learning to ride a bicycle’. I remember the singer who rediscovered the courage and self-confidence to write a song after years of mental blockage.
I remember breathing in. I remember breathing out. I remember doubts arise about the sense and nonsense of becoming increasingly aware of this ever recurring process I remember Ajahn Poh (82-year abbot) and Tan Mehdi (monk). I remember Yossi (volunteer) inviting us to stay at Donkin (Dharma Dūta hermitage) near the retreat centre for free, anytime, for days, weeks, years. I remember carrying loads of sand to cover paths around the hermitage. I remember the words about there being cobras, scorpions, spiders. I remember how I cried silently when Santikaro gave a translation of a talk by Buddhadāsa about the destruction of nature in Thailand and SE Asia in general. I remember this talk about the senseless brutality and destruction that came about by the passing of Man entered the open door of my heart and made me sob bitterly.
I remember the hard bunk and the wooden, yes, wooden pillow. I remember sweating a lot. I remember the smiles of fellow participants. I recall sounds of crickets, grasshoppers, frogs, birds. I remember an inspiring evening on day 10 with retreat participants recounting how these days affected and changes their lives. I remember listening to stories about wearing masks, about eating-disorders, about depression, headaches, crashes, near-death experiences, life-changing insights, back pain, childhood conditioning, perfectionism, workaholism.
I remember we were all looking for truth within ourselves. Discovering through direct experience what is really going on in this ever-changing field of sensations, feelings, moods, thoughts.
I remember understanding leads to compassion. I remember the mind as perfectly clear.