Sunday, May 11, 2008

Travel N Places - Ayutthaya

In year November 2007, I visited Ayutthaya. This kingdom of Siam (today's Thailand) held a remarkable past. I was there in the evening, the sun was setting and there was an early moon in the sky. Something about the place captured my imagination. The place is trying to tell me a story about it’s past. The quiet environment, the ruined monasteries, its silhouettes against the sky, the serenity of the place, no tourists running around and slowly darkening sky made me took these pictures.

The place reminds me of Buddha's teaching - Nothing is permanent. Be it an island, an authoritative figure, famous actors/ actresses, World Trade Center of USA, beautiful historic places of the East & West, the great dynasties of China etc. For structures and buildings, they are still standing to tell people of their past. For human, whether you are a King or a poor man - no matter how great you are or how poor you are, when you die, you are nothing but a pile of bones or ashes. Put these bones or ashes together - can you tell who the King is and who is the poor man? Therefore why is human EGO so great? Therefore why do people look down on each other? Therefore why do people speak maliciously about another? Therefore why people think that they have the right to take other people lives?

I am not a fanatic in my religion, I cannot conform to a space, I want to be free, and I want to be able to ponder over Buddha's teaching. I do not want to accept what is handed on a plate. I do not want to read the explanation of a sutra written by monk because it is his understanding and not mine. I looked at things and think about it using Buddha's teaching. For things that I do not understand, I put them aside - I do not deny them. I am also not a devotional Buddhist - I am plain LAZY! I admit. Ask me to go to the temple faithfully, do group prayers faithfully, do religious ceremony faithfully - all these are group activities, it is interactions but it does nothing to my understanding of Buddha's teaching. Some say it is to create good merits. Yes, because at this point, you are together doing religious things and have no time to do bad BUT what happen when you step out of the temple? You go back to the same bad-temper person, you go back to be the quick-mouth person and when you open your mouth, you spew nothing but hurts at others. You continue to be jealous, instead of letting go you continue to harbor more and more anger and emotion of negative nature.

Vesak is approaching. This is the day whereby Buddhists go to one temple after another to consume vegetarian food free of charge. The word is 'Temple hopping'. This is not a bad activity, I did not say it is. What I mean that for myself, I think today is the day of reflection - reflect on Buddha's teachings quietly at home or at a quiet environment. When I became a Buddhist, it is my affinity with the religion. I have started taking a piece of cloth and using it to rub on the mirror surface. Why? This mirror initially is clean and clearly reflected my true self. As time goes on, I became lazy and I let dust settled on the surface. The dust is so thick now that I cannot see my true self - I want to find my true self so that I know who I am.

Why did Buddha gave up being a Prince and the possibility of being King? Now a day we are talking about which famous Buddhist master we are associated with, which big temple we are attending service and our status with these masters and temples. I am sure this is a common phenomenon. We show people our clean outlook but we kept our dirty inside to our self.

Salvation to the Buddhist is our own doing. Buddha does not salvage us from the dumps. Buddha left us ways and means to get out of the dumps. Buddha told us what are the dumps and where are they and please do not jump in. Buddha told us - we are a piece of land, we either plant something to our benefit or leave it to be barren or grow weeds. This is karma. You plant and you sow. You reap what you sow. You will not get orange when you plant apple. Going to heaven is not the doing of the Buddha, it is your own effort. Buddha left us all the landmarks and maps of how to get there. Buddha also hopes that in the event we are trying to get there, try to help others to get there.

Oops! from Ayutthaya to 'preaching'. My understanding of Lord Buddha's teaching is only my own, not representative of anyone or any group. See my EGO is big! I am talking about myself.........I am trying to and yet I fall into letting myself 'slack' and wake up again and walk on.. and fall again. This is human nature....BUT I will reach my GOAL for the sake of myself and others!...haiz... is there a 'myself' ??

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