Buddhism in the Land of Smiles (Thailand)

From 1989 to 2016, I lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand and used it as my base while I worked at various universities in East Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East teaching English as a second language. I loved living in Thailand and miss it terribly until today. Truly, I love Thailand and all its beauty. While living there, I had the opportunity to experience Buddhism and its effect on culture. The Thais don’t always have an intellectual understanding of Buddhism, as Christians in the West tend to do, but they really live it! Having been a devout follower of Buddhism and meditator for many years previous to my move to Thailand meant living in Thailand was a dream. I had the opportunity to participate and “endure” two different month-long Vipassana meditation retreats at Wat Loem Pung in Chiang Mai. It was without a doubt the most difficult thing I have ever done. It was also the most rewarding.

Once you begin the program, there is no communication with anyone other than the Abbott every 4 days or so. There is no reading, no writing, no sleeping, no music, no talking to anyone, and no food after 12:00 noon. Just you and your crazy thoughts 24/7 for a month. The day consisted of endless rounds of one-hour sitting meditation, then one-hour walking meditation. Basically, you did as much meditation as your back and legs could handle. Unbelievable experience. When you leave the temple, however, you are so clear and strong- grounded and living in your heart. The one lesson learned? The Buddha knew what he was talking about and meditation is the key to enlightenment. I am so grateful for the variety of experiences when I lived in LOS (Land of Smiles)

The Vow of the Boddhisatva

The deluding passions are inexhaustible.
I vow to extinguish them all.

 Sentient beings are numberless.
I vow to save them all.

 The truth is impossible to expound.
I vow to expound it.

The way of the Buddha is unattainable.
I vow to attain it.

In April of 1984, I took the Bodhisattva vow with the revered Chukdud Tulku Rinpoche at the Ojai Foundation, California during the “Way of the Warrior” one-month retreat extravaganza. Words of wisdom, indeed.

Chakdud Tulku Rinpoche also gave each of us a new name.

Mine is Rab Jam Trin Lay which means Limitless Activity.

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”