Gong Xi fa Cai! Happy New Year 2017!
It’s a rooster year, same as the one my humblemee was born – “The quality in which I take greatest pride is my complete lack of ego,” Richard Bach playfully states in Running from Safety and I dig it.
Joy and me arrive in Ipoh instead of Malacca and spend some days exploring this town. It’s not really big but its suburbs are sprawling way out. There is a Japanese Garden nearby and we go check it out first. We are also interested in the temples. Alas, we would have to take a teksi to visit them and having to pay per hour would create time stress and invite the pain of paying.
There is another place we would like to see: Dhamma Pīti Monastery. Built into a mountain (like numerous other temples in Ipoh!) near a recreational park area in 1996 it was formerly known as Dhamma Cave. It has been developed, restructured and extended ever since. We arrive there by taxi and a short walk in the burning heat of noon.
Ajahn Mettiko welcomes us. We’d like to stay for at least a week. He laughs heartily and is glad to have us there. After some introductory talk about the monastic rules (vinaya) we agree to meet again in a couple of days and commence our stay at the monastery.
We are about to leave when we meet them. Mrs. and Mr. Chan – which is short for Chanerous! cuz that’s what they are. Oh, how lucky we are to meet them! They are willing to take us back to Ipoh Downtown. Once we sit in their car, though, we get talking and she asks us what we have seen of Ipoh. If we are interested in seeing any temples? If we’re hungry? Joy is too polite to say yes, maybe doesn’t feel like exploiting this opportunity of helpfulness by strangers. I don’t have any qualms. Being a Capricorn: ‘I could eat something’, I say, and prompt her reply: ‘So let’s take care of that first.’ Top!, methinks, and we’re chauffeured to a big mall where we are invited to have lunch à la carte with them while talking about the dhamma. Can it get any better? It can.
Once we’ve eaten we go out to the parking lot – it’s baking concrete time. A/C inside the automobile makes it bearable. And from there on we have what could be called a private guided tour through town. We visit three temples.
KuanYin Tong, Kek Look Tong, and Perak Cave.
As much as we enjoy the private tour, we feel that after three temples and a lot of time spent in the chilled car we have enough impressions of Ipoh. Also, we are aware it’s a Sunday and the generous couple would like to have some time for themselves, too. They need to drive to Taiping later. Before they bring us to our hotel they convince us that Perak Cave is a must-see, so we go there as well. It’s our last stop for today.
After this incredible tour they drop us at our hotel and wish us a wonderful stay in Malaysia. Indeed, it’s been full of wonders lately! We decide to spend the interim period in Lumut and Pulau Pangkor, an island in the west of Perak province.
I went out searching for liberation in the forest, but that turned out to be crazy, because the truth is within oneself.
Today I spotted many many animals. A frog sat on my left flipflop when I returned from the upper dhamma hall. A cock wandered around just outside my kuti. A squirrel came down from the forest to where I was practising walking meditation in the afternoon. A spider rested in its web’s centre. A bird flew right above me into the tree tops. An ant tried to crawl in between my toes and I wouldn’t let it. Four cute puppies licked my hands like their mommy’s tits and I’d let them. A butterfly stroked the earlobe of a man walking in front of me. A cat sat next to a nun having lunch. A mosquito found its way into my mosquito net cell. So many animals… and as for the humans, they’re spitting coughing burping farting chatting like there’s no tomorrow. Which in fact there is not – it’s always today.
Days go by really fast here.
Two substantial meals per day. Eight hours meditation per day. A walk uphill to watch the sunset. Some chanting. Sound sleep. Some say: ‘If you want to live a spiritual life all you need to do is to go to bed early and get up early.’
That’s it? Maybe it is. It’s a good start for sure.
Now I have stayed at Pa-Auk Forest Monastery in the south of Mawlamyine. It was good. Good to settle down after some months of being on the move. Meditation schedule was as usual. Not too tight but tight enough.
Noble silence was not taken too seriously. Many monks from China, Vietnam, Thailand, and also westerners. All in all about 400 people there in the woods. Staying in kutis (huts) and practicing ānāpānasati and/or four-elements bhāvana at the Dhammavihārī Sīma, the upper meditation hall.
After some days my roommates (from Myanmar and Germany) left and I had this relatively big and, what’s more important: silent place all for myself for the remaining 10 or 11 days. Upstairs one local monk’s residence.