Anapanasati at top of Wat Tum Sua and 5? kids taking my pictures and banging the bells to see if they could get me to move and break the meditation.
Mai pen rai krup… (no matter, no mind)
Today was an interesting test of my meditation practice. I climbed up the stairs again to the top of the mountain at Wat Tum Sua and after the sweat dried up from my body and clothes and my breathing calmed quite a bit I sat in my usual spot at the altar that has some shade and the most wind blowing (usually).
The first 10 minutes were almost silent as people came and went and were quiet for the most part. I could hear talking, but it didn’t bother me at all. I was able to find peace and stillness of body rather quickly and the mind followed… and then…5 or so Thai kids arrived with their father. I could hear them around me and they were talking about getting me to move…
I was in a good state of concentration at the moment and so I just watched with my mind – with attention at what they said and let it go as I heard each word or phrase. They were intent on getting me to react and break the meditation. They took pictures very close to me (of me) and banged on the bells that were at another platform close by to see if they could get me to react or jump or something. It was amusing and yet I couldn’t help some thoughts from surfacing about the impoliteness of Thais when it comes to others. There really is very little.
Going to this wat in the south of Thailand over the past couple weeks and months I noticed that there is little in the way of outward shows of respect not only among all Thais’ but also for the monks at this wat. It is as if they are laypeople.
The Thais who interact with them don’t worry about having their head higher than the monks, following a step behind… using polite language with krup and ka… they don’t dip their heads when they pass them or go between monks. They don’t wai anyone and very rarely do I see any Thais’ interacting with the monks at all except to treat them as friends like they met in a bar.
This is in marked contrast with the respect shown to monks by Thais in the Northeast province of Ubon Ratchathani, Udonthani, Sisaket and others. There is a reverence… a respect that they don’t give to others that they accord to monks that is nice to see…
At least a little basic respect of someone’s space, privacy, meditative moments would have been appreciated… but, no matter since the mind reacted very little to the antics of these kids that were at times within reaching distance sticking their Nokia cell phone cameras close to me to get a good photo of the foreign monk (they called me) meditating at the top of the mountain.
The father of some of the kids joked with them, smoked and egged them on to do some of the things they were doing to attempt to disturb me… it was kind of weird that not only was there an utter disregard for my sitting there in an unobtrusive and out of the way part of the altar, but there were unabashed attempts at provoking me to see if they could get me to stop meditating.
This went on for over 30 minutes I’m guessing. So, such was my sitting today… after they had gone and I stayed another 15 minutes. When I opened my eyes I had a bit of Jhana there – the feeling of lightness of being… of no feeling in the hands, arms and legs… the good feeling inside… bliss or some good feeling…
I noticed a young monk (Phra Gope) climbing the rocks below coming back toward the platform. Apparently he had been somewhere. I asked where (“Bpy Ny?”). He said, “Anapanasati, tee non” (meditating over there) and pointed toward the rocks. I said, “Jing law?” (really) He said “chai” (yes…) I said, “Ow bpy dooay. Die mai kup?” ( I want to go too, can i?).
I went and got my sport sandals and came back, he led me over the treacherous rocks in his bare feet and showed me this ‘secret’ meditation spot that he found a while back. He had been at the wat for a year and also liked to practice Anapanasati. This was the spot he liked to go.
It was a small spot of mildly sloping rock that was in an incredibly beautiful, secluded setting, nestled among the jagged limestone cliffs that comprised the top of the mountain. It was some effort getting across the rocks even with shoes, but I made it in a bit over 5 minutes I think. I took a little video of the experience and it’s posted below.
Enjoy… Oh, tomorrow if we both make it, we’re supposed to meet at 2 pm. for a trip up a mountain next to the one we were at today. Supposedly it’s a good place for meditation and there are no other visitors there, just monks. I’m excited to see if we might be able to coordinate that trip tomorrow at 2 pm. If so, I’ll post video and photos.