May 9, 2010

the old monk

day 1 through day 3 are just a blur.  it feels like 95 degrees with 100% humidity.  my head is pounding.  i can't tolerate the sunlighti'm nauseous.  i can barely stand or sit up because i'm so dizzy.  at first i think it's because my body is detoxing from caffeine and sugar but it continues and i get into my vicodin. after a few days i learn to cool down my body as much as possible by stripping down to a sarong the minute i hit the dorm and pouring water from head to foot.  this pond is for washing and bathing. 

each day i think i will focus and do my best but it is impossible to concentrate with the pounding heat.  i learn to tell which days will be hottest because on those days the staff carry umbrellas.  the heat is however a tradeoff for the snakes and mosquitoes.  it's the dry season before the rains here and so that means few mosquitoes and a much lower chance that a cobra will be seeking the dry space that is your 'room'.  during the orientation the only time i am encouraged to contact the staff is in the event there is a snake in my room.  the added visual of a plastic cobra really isn't needed for my overly active imagination.

the abbot of Wat Suan Mohkk comes by a couple of times a day.  we call him the old monk and he's really old and treated like a rock star and beloved by everyone around him.  he comes by once to meditate and once for a dhamma talk where he explains the foundation of buddism.  the problem is that his english is so thickly accented we can't follow what he's saying.  usually this hour is spent sitting in the heat blankly staring at him so the fears my mother had about 'indoctrination' are unrealized and i learn very little about Buddism.

who am i kidding?  every hour is spent sitting in meditation posture staring blankly and trying to focus on breathing pretending it isn't 100 degrees out except when i am back in the dorm on a break pouring water all over my body.  anyway soon we start to cringe when we see the old monk coming.

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