In the previous week, I totally lost count of what day it is. And i don’t care. Token of acclimatisation I’d say.
These last seven or eight days at the monastery/retreat centre Wat Kow Tahm were truly inspiring. As I arrived from Suan Mokh and settled here, the flow continued. I found myself getting up at 4 a.m. without any incredulous look at the alarm clock. Actually enjoyed lying there awake an hour early or so, breathing in and out until the actual waking bell rang. Time to go to the meditation hall uphill.
Sit for half an hour, then do some yoga or tai’chi (Master Khun Supol is instructing us) at the temple. watch the sunrise. Sitting again for 45mins. Letting the mosquitoes become Ajahn Jun (masters) that bring me right back to the present moment when the mind has wandered away to rehearse the past and probe into the future, with other words dealing with stuff long gone or not yet come. Imaginary and ephemeral stuff quickly made more solid by mental proliferation (papanca). Then breakfast – well, first a food reflection:
‘Considering it thoughtfully, I eat this food, not for play, not for intoxication, not for putting on bulk, not for beautification, but simply for the survival and continuance of this body, thinking: ‘Thus eill i destroy old feelings (of hunger) and not create new feelings (from overeating).
I will maintain myself, be blameless, and live in comfort.’
Ok, right on! Get some muesli and porridge, fresh fruits (banana, papaya, pineapple) and a vegetable rice soup with many condiments to choose from at the side. It is very tasty, indeed! Difficult not to be mindlessly stuffing the belly, not thinking about the next spoonful of tasty matter that’s gonna be put into this hole in the head. It’s comparably easy to be mindfully walking and sitting all day from 4 a.m. until 9 p.m. It is at mealtimes when the real practice starts, or to put it another way: it is at the communal feasting when the progress (or lack thereof) starts to show clearly. When you reach out to Nibbāna but all you have got is a sore body and a restless mind, the love you find in carefully-selected, well-prepared, delicious and nutritious food certainly seems like salvation, if only temporary.
On the last day of the retreat, Marko from Estonia (who had been reading the food reflection before every meal with us repeating after him) gave an hilarious version, i.e. reading this very reflection with a heavy, thick Russian accent. With us repeating after him. I laughed so hard my belly button danced a jiggy 😀
How can I describe what I am going through here? Sometimes i am moved to tears because it is so breathtakingly beautiful. Right now, in fact, I have tears in my eyes. Becoming aware that EVERYTHING is impermanent … that is indeed hard to take in fully. Better done step by step.
The ego makes it also hard to tell what is happening cuz it’s used to endless attempts at looking and sounding impressive. And it has become quite good at it. Years of training. I know what I Am talking about dude. Thus, I knead in some thoughts of entanglement and sensations of dukkha so that this whole journey we call ‘life’ is seen for what it is. There really is so much unnecessary suffering just because of clinging to a sense of self. So much distress because of attachment to this idea of I-Me-Mine covering up momentary experience like a cloak perverting perception. And knowing that does not help. Reading does not help. Not-knowing helps. Becoming perfectly still helps. It gets really obvious around here. And still, when there is a glimpse of truth shining through the dark veil of delusion, it’s being labeled as ‘my’ (spiritual or whatever) experience all too soon.
Hmmm… desire came in to wreck the show.
Temple up on the hill
Inside the temple
P.S. In case you take wonder at etymological dimensions, the word desire derives from Latin desirus, meaning ‘away from the star’. So if the stars your destination, why move constantly away?! BE HERE NOW.
On the hill of Wat Kow Tahm (Mountain cave)
More photos you will find here.