We commented together on the plane that just seeing the forests of Sri Lanka from above brought happiness. Feeling the earth under our feet and smelling the sea breeze, seing the familiar peculiarities of the people makes it all the more clear to the mind - we're home again.
ish... I'm actually in a hotel in Colombo, sent the others back to the forest in a van. Staying with the group who cared for their visa fees in Bangkok. Seemed the least we could do for them in gratitude. The Buddha himself encouraged hospitality.
Bangkok was exciting as usual... not much in the way of peace and quiet, but much good done, sharing explanations of meditation with many people, receiving bowls and robes from old friends, for future ordinations here, and making new aquaintances with the potential for practice and teachin in the future.
One event sticks out in my mind, a parade inviting the Buddha relics in Wat Pra Kaeo out to Sanam Luang. I was invited by the abhidhamma school a Wat Mahadhatu, and ended up at the front of the parade as the only monk interested in a two hour sun bath. Truth be told, it wasn't so interesting for me either, and my head and right shoulder look a bit like a boild lobster right now; walking barefoot on asphalt in Bangkok behind a marching band is not really my idea of a good time. Anyway, it was good practice in patience - funny how similar dowtown Bangkok is to the rainforests of Sri Lanka in that way... truly, it is all the same after all.
Anyway, call me romantic, but somehow, it all came to a beautiful conclusion when amidst much fanfare, the relics were placed in the centre of Sanam Luang and they wouldn't let anyone go up to make offerings to them. After some discussion, being the only monk, it was agreed, I guess, that I should be allowed as a representative. Out of all the hundreds of people, I alone was allowed to take a bowl and robes set up as a token offering.
It's not a feeling of pride or conceit that makes me write - it feels a little silly, after all, seeing as how I never took a single Abhidhamma exam to be the repesentative. It's the feeling of luck, the gratitude and the honour of it. It was quite special, considering the circumstances.
But now, back to more earthy pursuits. A brief respite from the world staying in a cave again, then back to Thailand on the 15th. Silly, I know... but reasons I have for leaving our solace; be they good or bad, judge for yourself:
1 returning to Chom Tong to practice, since it is clearer than ever that my teacher will not be around forever.
2 bringing Bhante Anoma to meet my teacher; as our head monk it seems good to let him see where I come from, and maybe even benefit from the meeting
3 to bring a very kind and helpful supporter to practice with my teacher as well.
4 to visit Wat Tam Bua Tong, in order to make a connection for further practice in Thailand, as well as offering a place for Thai students to come to practice.
5 to offer a short course in Bangkok at the place behind a Lotus shopping mall where we've spent the past few days.
Yep, a lot of reasons... some busyness, to be fair, but also some relief from busyness. The best part of all the travelling this time though has been to see how sincere and helpful people can be, and are, to us, which gives us encouragement to continue, encouragement that we are doing the right thing.
I read once that the difference betwen worldly pleasure and happiness from spiritual practice is that the former is like eating sugar cane from the bottom up... it starts off sweet, but gets less and les the more you eat. The latter like eating from the top down... sweeter and sweeter and sweeter. That is how it has always felt - the more goodness we do and the more evil we renounce, the less suffering we face, until all suffering is gone.
There is indeed no taste like the taste of truth... sweeter nd sweeter and sweeter.