Wednesday, November 01, 2017

10-Day Silent Meditation Retreat at Suan Mokkh - Part 5 (End)

Deng deng deng deng... Deng!! Deng!! Deng!! Deng!! The bell rang loudly. I was awaken from my nap. I wiped off the half wet half dried saliva from the side of my lips using my shirt sleeve. Oh my!! Time flew so fast!! I faster got up and went to the hall bringing a small bag filled with umbrella, water bottle, shawl, mosquito repellent, medicated oil, and the room key. Those were the must bring items wherever you go.

Rain would usually come in the evening after 3 to 4 pm, or at night. It would start with the wind blowing first, which was very comfortable, and then, followed by the rain. It could rain heavily sometimes and umbrella would be very useful in such situation. Rain was the most welcome thing in this season as it cooled the air and less mosquitoes would hang around human, or perhaps the frogs were having mosquitoes' party :D

You could borrow the plastic water bottle from there or you could use your own. Water filters were provided in several places. You could fill it anytime. Drink more as weather could be very hot in the afternoon.

I used big shawl to protect the lower part of my body from the mosquito's attack. The mosquitoes there were very scary - I called them "commando" as they were super tough mosquitoes that attacked us persistently, could bite through thick clothing, and survived harsher conditions than normal ones. 

Must have items!!! Left to right: Medicated oil, lemongrass with eucalyptus local and made in Indo mosquito repellents 

At first I used the repellent spray that I bought from Indonesia (the right bottle in the photo above). But it seemed not working. Like after a while, the effect was gone, especially when sweating (I just learned there later on that sweat would attract mosquito easily to your body). So I thought the local made one should be much more effective, as it might be tested using local mosquitoes (who knows Indonesian mosquitoes were not barbaric enough).

Therefore, I bought it at the provision store - a mixture of lemongrass and eucalyptus (the middle bottle in the photo above). It smelled nice and not so oily.  At first I used it before starting any activity confidently and thought that the mosquitoes would go away. But again, I was wrong!!! ^^" Same thing. The effect was  gone after a while even after pouring it all over my skin. I think I applied it at least 10 times a day on my skin, yet it didn't deter the mosquitoes bites.

Worse thing, the mosquitoes could suck the blood even the body parts was covered with clothes!!! Omg!!! That time onward, I applied the repellent not only on my skin, but also on my pants and clothes.  My body smelled of repellent. Luckily I wasn't the only one though! Ha ha...

Aaarrgghhh...... (Pic source: Google.com)

The bites on my body was everywhere and uncountable!!! They even bit my butt!!! Especially when doing business (big and small) inside the toilet! ^^" So when squatting or sitting on the toilet bowl, my both hands had to keep moving at the sides of my thigh to prevent the mosquitoes' bites. Can you imagine that??? However, sometimes the time was too early and I was too sleepy to do so. My butt ended up itchy and swollen when I finished :(

And the bites were very disturbing especially during meditation. Aarrrrgghhh..... I knew it was part of the test. Lol!!! We were tested how to control our craving not to scratch the itchy parts, and not to slap it, as more often than not, I accidentally found the flat mosquitoes with blood on it as well :D

That's why I always brought the shawl with me. Although it was hot and sweating, it provided double layer clothes protection. I could at least have a peaceful meditation session :)

By taking a bath at least twice a day and soaking the bodies inside hot spring often would help in reducing the swollen faster. It healed after two to three days. Thank Buddha!!! I used up 2 bottles of repellent during my stay there. And medicated oil helped me to reduce the itchy feeling on the skin. I used up a bottle there. 

I wrote too much about it but that's because it was one of the greatest disturbance that we had to face during the meditation retreat as the location we were in was really natural (surrounded by bushes, trees, ponds, hot spring, etc.)

Sand wasp (Pic source: Farangs gone wild)

Another thing that disturbed us inside the meditation hall was the sand wasp. As sand was the base used inside the hall, you'd see many sand wasps flying and building its nest surrounding where people sat. You could hear and see it digging its nest, making a hole and usually it buzzed in the afternoon until evening. Luckily it didn't sting if you did not disturb them or destroy their nests. 

Well, there were many others animals appeared inside the hall. Just had to be careful not to kill them purposely or accidentally. Just gently moved them back to nature whenever possible. 

Those were external disturbance. Haha... As internal disturbance, we all had it inside our mind individually. The baggage that we brought in - mentally - before reaching the area, had to stay away during the retreat, or better to let it go. The teachers kept reminding us to let the things go, whatever things that clung inside our hearts and minds, and focusing on the present moment, being right here and right now. 

Be more mindful with whatever things we do was also part of the meditation practices. And to be honest, I was very bad in it. Having born, grown, and live in big cities most of the time in my life, had forced me to do everything in a very fast pace. 

PM Lee Hsien Loong National Day speech on Productivity (12 August 2017)

Multitasking was another skill I mastered when doing my work as our Prime Minister always highlighted productivity as one of important skills we had to have to make the nation progress well. So my mind was full of plans on what to do next, started from I woke up until I fell asleep, so that I could make full use of time in a most productive way. 

I was envy to see a participant who was very gentle and mindful in her actions. The way she brushed her teeth, washed her clothes, walked, ate, and so on (her room was located not far from mine, that's why I could notice all that). I was the opposite of her. I was rush in everything I did, walked like running as if I was in competition with others, poured the water noisily when washing or taking bath, and so on. Lol!!! It made me wondering if I was woman enough??? :'D Not gentle from the outside at all!!! :P (Although from the inside I have a very soft and weak heart ^_^)

Many times I tried to move my body slower, but it was just not working for long. I did my best sometimes though, but perhaps my mind was not mindful enough :(

Full moon and its reflection on the pond (Pic source: Google.com)

The best moment I had during the retreat was when we were doing walking meditation at night and there was a beautiful full moon in the sky together with its reflection in the pond. Wow!!! At that moment my mind was no longer focusing on my steps and whatever things I stepped into. Lol!!! I would rather stealthily looking up to catch the glance of it and searching for the stars as well. 

There were many cloudy and raining days before that, that's why I found it amazingly grateful for that beautiful night. I was not alone anyway. Some confessed too that they secretly enjoyed the full moon view instead focusing on walking meditation, on the last night we were together (we were allowed to talk on last night we were there, sharing our feeling during the retreat on stage, one by one using the microphone).

The thing I loved the most there was the nature and its surrounding. It was completely natural and back to basic. The sound of rain, thunders, the flash of lightning was another thing I loved during my stay. Lying down on my hard based bed and hard based pillow, I closed my eyes and enjoyed the super heavy rain. The cooling air, the patter sound of dropping rain on the rooftop, it was just feeling so marvelous!!!

Pluviophile definition (Source: Google.com)

There was a night I really hoped it rained because the meditation timing was too long and the weather was too hot (It was on day 9. They changed the schedule slightly so that we could experience how monks and nuns spend their days daily in their real life). And amazingly rain poured heavily soon after I made that wish!!! Omg, it felt like magic how Universe could read my mind!!! 

And during the evening break on that same day, I was lying down inside my room thinking of buying long pants once I reached Bangkok, to replace the 3 pants that i broke during the retreat. I only had 1 that was still in good condition and I couldn't possibly wear that all day all night for three next few days (I broke my pants due to excessive washing - I washed it daily - and sometimes it just broke when I was squatting down - I told you how rough I could be in my movement).

I was desperately thinking on what to do. Then minutes before the bell rang, I got up and got out from my room. There was a table outside the matron's room where people could put stuffs they didn't want but still usable for others, some kind of donations and be environmentally friendly. Among items put there were used shirts, short pants, shoes, slipper, leftover toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, lotion, washing powder, etc.), used towels, candles, and so on.

Give and take away table - Suan Mokkh IDH

Since matron's room was located just next to the other side of main entrance (on my right side), I often took a peek on what new items available. I mean, if it was usable and I needed it, why not? And guess what?? At that very moment, suddenly I saw new items on the table and when I walked closer towards it, I found 2 black pants were put there!!! I was controlling my emotions not to get happy too easily as the size of the pants might not suit me.

I opened it up one by one and was amazed that the size were big enough for people like me!!! (Perhaps I had lost some weight after being there for 9 days???) I checked the conditions of the pants (who knows there was hole or broken parts???), but it was fine. I immediately brought it inside my room and had a try.

Both were fit, but I only took one as another one was a bit strange shape. I did not need many anyway. Just one more was enough. And it seemed like the owner had washed it before giving it out. I could smell the softener smell from the pants. Oh my... to whomever had donated the pants that very night, I would like to say thank you!!! Again, I felt wondrous as Universe had heard my mind and answered my worry. Thank you, thank you, and thank you once again!!! :)

Thai Buddhist Monkhood (Pic source: Google.com)

Well, I heard from my Thai friend, it was common for Thai male son (in their 18s - before marriage) to undergo monkhood at least once in their lifetime, so that the good karma would be bestowed upon their parents as an act of filial piety.

The period would differ from one to another but usually would range between 1 week to 3 months, and the longer the better. He said, near completion of the monastic life (including many meditation practices), they would usually get super natural power like to see what not supposed to be seen, a.k.a spirit. It made me thinking if what the Universe responded to the rain and pants wishes would also some kind of super natural power that I got after 9 days of meditation retreat :P Hehehe... My wondrous fantasy.... :D

Life is a series of thousands of tiny miracles. Notice them.

So, this post would wrap my feelings and experience that I had during the 10 day meditation retreat at Suan Mokkh International Dharma Heritage. There might still some other things I missed out mentioning here, but personally I found it a wonderful experience joining it at least once in my lifetime. I have learned so many things there. Not only how to do the right and self-reliance meditation practice (Anapanasati - mindfulness with breathing, walking and standing meditation), but also remind myself and practicing Dhamma (Buddha's teaching). We recited chant in Sankrit language on daily basis too.

The Dhamma that we learned included: the Four Noble Truth (the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering), the Noble Eightfold Path (right view/ understanding (samma ditthi), right thought/ attitude (samma sankappa), right speech (samma vaca), right action/ conduct (samma kammanta), right livelihood (samma ajiva), right effort/ diligence (samma vayama), right mindfulness (samma sati), and right concentration/ meditation (samma samadhi), Paticca Samuppada or the chain/ law of dependent origination, non-attachment to I, me, myself, mine, and so on.

Group photo - 10-Day Silent Meditation Retreat at Suan Mokkh (September 2017)

Being silence for 10 days was not that hard too. It was perfectly fine for me and enjoyed it so much. Not everyone stayed at the end though. Many chose giving up in the middle. So, I was grateful that I was one of those survivors of the retreat. Here, I would like to thank to Ajahn Buddhadasa or Buddhadasa Bhikkhu (Servant of the Buddha) one more time for founding the Suan Mokkh monastery, the International Dhamma Heritage, and Dhamma-Mata (residential facility for women interested in studying Dhamma and practicing nun-hood).

Thank you Ajahn Por, another monk (I forgot his name), fellow teachers (Supon, Kun Tai, Kun Chai), volunteers, cooks, and other staffs who had rendered all your knowledge, time, and efforts to make the meditation retreat going smoothly and made our lives meaningful, and also to all Dhamma friends from all over the world who had come and experienced this retreat together. It was nice meeting you all and hope we could bring what we learned there throughout our lifetime and be a better human being in this world :) Thank you SB for everything!!! Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu.... :) 

2 comments:

Tashi Chenzom said...

Such a lovely experience!!
I can relate this closely to one of my such spiritual adventures I took last winter (there are lots of differences though). With such activities we are always given an opportunity to see and reflect ourselves.

Really loved ur narration and thank you for sharing your story

Rima Reyka said...

Thank you Tashi for following my posts patiently and your comment too!!! Wish you a wonderful day ahead!!! 😊😊😊

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