Friday, 10 June 2011

The Secret Thai Buddhist Temple deep in the Jungle – Part 2

The dirt road to the temple is marked by a granite sign and is a right turn off the main road just before the turning to the National Park. The Abbott has been working on building a temple (Wat in Thai) for nearly 40 years and the main temple hall is incomplete and unfinished and houses a large golden brass Buddha statue. There are concrete posts which indicate the plans for other large structures in the vicinity.

The temple sits next to the river which carries the pure clean water from the 7 teired waterfalls. Also at the temple was a young monk and several nuns dressed in white. The nun was smiling and cheery and had come from Bangkok and spoke English quite well. She remarked that recently a monk had come and meditated under a nearby tree for 3 whole days and nights and she was assiduous in creating the small Buddha hall in which we had recently prayed - one of which was lit by a shaft of light through the roof and was extremely evocative and contributed to the calm , meditative atmosphere.

The place is very tranquil and pastoral – with chickens running around and the air is cooled and shaded by large trees. My wife and nieces had gone for a Lotus flower water blessing ceremony. The nun cut the lotus heads into small pieces and put them into a plastic pot.

The Abbott came over to sit by the three ladies who had now changed in to clothes ready for the ceremony to begin. First he chanted in Pail traditional Buddhist incantations and added the flowers to the dustbin filled with river water which he stirred and chanted over - this completed he began to pour it over the three of them who repeated his words as the ceremony unfolded.

At the end of the process which lasted for about 3 minutes they went to change their wet clothes and bottled some of the water remaining to take back to their house Buddha shrine.

The whole ceremony was starkly elemental and it must be said very moving being akin almost to a Christian baptism – the cleansing power of water and the otherworldliness adding to its spiritual impact. The surroundings with a rooster crowing and the river running by and the mother rocking her baby in a crib as the sun filtered through the leaf covering made us all stop and stare and listen.

I’ll finish this short story in the final instalment of the secret Thai temple in Part 3.

"When one has the feeling of dislike for evil, when one feels tranquil, one finds pleasure in listening to good teachings; when one has these feelings and appreciates them, one is free of fear." Buddha

The Buddha's Face

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