Final Stop on the Forest Temple Pow-wow Circuit: Kathin(a)…

img_1034Kao Pansaa and Awk Pansaa are the big deal for the Forest Temples in Thailand, and Buddhist Temples in general, but the entire ‘rains retreat’ season—Pansaa or Vassa—lends itself to priestly gatherings, a time when monks are expected and obligated to stay put at their home temple the entire three months, so it’s a good time to meet up with the Sangha (Buddhist priestly brotherhood), since you know where they are…

At other times, most of the year, a priest can go anywhere he wants, and many even go ‘tudong‘, walking in the woods wherever they can, on streets where they can’t, sleeping wherever and living off contributions. But many more are more civilized, staying at any temple anywhere, whatever they can accomplish without the usual hotel bookings, rental car reservations, group tours and—money…

img_1053Money! Ssscccrrreeech, halt! Aaahhh, yes, money, there’s the rubber on my road, dragging me down to the ground and grinding me into the dirt, the bane of my existence and the nemesis of my trials and tribs. But here we are still, many years later, still planting seeds and still gathering fruit. And for me right now, that means following what I call the Forest Temple ‘Pow-wow circuit’ here in northern Thailand, just now drawing to a close as the rainy season ends and the nice season begins—winter…

The kathina is a ceremony in which donors present cloth and other requisites to the monks who have spent the Rains Retreat together without break. As it may be held only between the full moon dates in October and November, and only once a year in any given monastery, it is considered a very special opportunity for donors to join in and develop the virtue of generosity together…”

And so it is in northern Thailand at Wat Doi Thamaram in Chiang Rai province, where the women are beautiful and—did I say this already? Anyway, our little group at Forest Temple Mae Chan has a dedicated following sure to show up wherever spicy noodles are needed, which is just about everywhere, last time I checked…

img_1052And people are starting to recognize me now, from other events, so that should hold me in good stead if and when I decide to ordain myself as a monk fully robed in saffron. My greatest concern is how the locals will accept me, if and when they see me, though that may be a moot issue in the off season. If the venerable Luang Poo abbot from Wat Doi Maha Mongkol is any indication, the odds are good, since he’s taken a shine to me and called me over specifically to pay respects at this last gathering of the season…

But first I have to return to the US for a month, and frankly I’m scared given recent health glitches, my now-expired health insurance, and the woeful state of health care in the US, all at outrageously inflated prices, mediocrity at a premium and a runaround to boot. Insurance referrals by mail? What a joke. I won’t go anywhere in the USA that isn’t within a day’s drive of Mexico. How pathetic is that?

Still, I’ll probably survive, odds are, shaking the dice, blowing on them for luck, release them on to the crap shoot. But I digress. Life is a crap shoot, isn’t it? Yes, it is, and on that note I’ll sign off, pack my bags and wait for my plane. C U in the afterlife. “All my bags are packed, and I’m ready to go…”

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