Monday, July 28, 2008

Buddhist Monastery at Wat Kow Tahm

The island of Kha Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand where the Buddhist Monastery of Wat Kow Tahm and the Meditation Center are located....

This really is a tropical paradise!

The Pink Temple at Watt Kow Tahm

Within the first few days of the retreat, I began noticing my mind's aversion toward judging other people at the retreat.... "Why does she do walking meditation so exaggerated like that?" or... "Why does he always take so much food?" or... "Why don't the teachers realize that everyone is very tired from meditating all day and yet the evening talks go on for so long?" and on and on and on went my mind non stop it seemed!

During one of my individual interviews with Rosemary, one of the teachers, I asked her about my "judgemental" mind. She commented that judging is linked to prejudice which has as its origin ignorance. Rosemary suggested I do a mindfulness meditation on my judgemental mind, using the Law of Cause and Effect to reflect on all the suffering that has been created in the world due to judging, prejudice and ignorance. To reflect on the lives of those people who appear a little different and how they have been hurt because of prejudice. Then in my reflection, to try and develop compassion for myself and these people.

Later that day, I did just that. In silent meditation, I went through a series of reflections on various groups of people who have been hurt by prejudice. With this kind of reflection, it is easy to spiral downward and see one's self as totally worthless. So I guided my reflective meditation session with an image Steve, the other teacher, had given us, wherein he'd noted we're not all totally bad... in fact, we've created a beautiful houses for ourselves in our minds, with many, many beautiful rooms!

Reflecting, I looked at my life and my mind's home... with the vast variety of rooms I'd created. Many very exotic! Fun places for me to go to in my mind! Other rooms were bright, cheery and places where I'd often meet friends. Some rooms needed to be cleaned a little, while others... well, needed a whole lot of cleaning.... someday, I told myself... someday. But not now. As I went through the home my mind had created, I noticed that some doors were slightly ajar, others were closed.... I knew what or who was behind those doors and I just did not want to go there very often!

Then... I found doors that were locked solid. I knew exactly who waited for me behind those locked doors, and in mind, I knew that keeping the doors locked was causing me suffering.... but I just did not what to deal with the history behind those doors .... I just wanted to keep the doors lock. As I continued in this reflection.... I came upon just one of those doors I'd locked a couple years ago. Someone had been, what I felt at the time, very judgemental towards me, so in return, I became very judgemental toward that person, cut off all communication without explanation, and locked the door.

Frequently, some thought would pop into my mind, and I'd find myself walking by that locked door, knowing very well who I'd locked inside and hence out of my life. It made me feel sad about what had happened, but the door remained locked, just the same. Every time I catch a glimpse of that locked door, I'd feel some guilt, remembering the good times I'd had with this person before I locked the door. And there were many, many good times, starting so long ago, I can not even remember. But my desire to show this person's judging of me was wrong, and my counter judging was good, I kept the door locked... My reflection continued as I stood next to that locked door, suddenly realizing all the suffering I'd brought on myself over the last years for what was in essence, my wrong view. My judgemental mind had caused me to lock the door, cut off all communication with this person, with ongoing suffering for me the end result.

The whole purpose of this 19 day meditation retreat I was on in the Gulf of Thailand, was to learn how to develop internal "Peace of Mind." A "Peace of Mind" that could come from letting go of unbeneficial thoughts and cultivating beneficial thoughts. "Did I want to continue to suffer?" I asked myself.... "Did I want to have Peace of Mind?"

Concluding my silent meditation, now very much aware of all the suffering my judgemental mind had caused, I resolved to unlock the door after the retreat was over, re-establish communication with this person, ask for their forgiveness, therein letting go of the suffering and finding, in at least this one situation, my own "Peace of Mind."

The Shrine at the top of the mountain, overlooking the beautiful blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand.

The grounds and a few of the statues located within the Monastery grounds.

The name of this temple comes from the fact that it is located on a mountain (Kow) and that there is a cave (Tahm)where some monks have spent considerable time meditating....

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