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  • hardie karges 2:42 pm on February 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , Mahasi Monastery, , , Rangoon,   

    Ten Days in Mahasi Monastery, Yangon: None flew over the cuckoo’s nest… 

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    Mahasi Monastery in Yangon, Myanmar

    Somewhere nearby a gong sounds–loudly. Then someone beats a drum. Then again. And again. Then every dog in the surrounding neighborhood howls in anything but unison, as I smile thinking about Allen Ginsberg, howling, growling, smiling somewhere out there but not Heaven, crazy wisdom incarnate, poet’s blood unrepentant…

    The air is still fresh and cool at night at this time of year in Yangon (Rangoon) and the scene at 0600 at Mahasi Monastery is a bit surreal: monks and nuns float through the monastery grounds in the moonlight, marching weeping shadows creeping. Ruby-robed monks line up in the streets with beggars’ bowls in hand, primed for the pump, while nuns float through on gossamer wings, all dressed in pink, with nothing to think… (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 9:15 pm on February 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Deep stuff – explained well.

  • hardie karges 2:22 pm on January 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bagan, Buddhism, , Mt. Popa, , stupas,   

    Angkor What? Buddhist Field of Dreams in Bagan, Myanmar… 

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    One of many ruins around Bagan…

    The first thing you notice on the bus up from Yangon to Bagan is that the entire countryside seems empty. As Gertrude Stein put it so aptly when describing Oakland, CA: “There is no there there.” Now this may indeed be the new road, so avoiding the population centers directly, but still: in Thailand every available parcel of land would have a ‘For Sale’ sign before the road was even finished, and there would be new developments springing up as fast as the equipment could be trucked in from China…

    But when we finally do get off the main road and into some villages, then you see why. It’s poor, dirt poor. If Communism stopped a clock for those countries that only began ticking again in 1991, then ‘Burmese socialism’ stopped a clock which is only now beginning to tick some quarter century after its Commie neighbors in SE Asia. Better late than never, I suppose…
    (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 12:25 am on December 27, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, Chiang Dao, Chiang Mai, hill-tribes, Kwan Yin, Lahu,   

    Thai Holidays Outback Up North, part 3: Six Temples, Two Borders, a Maharishi and a Funeral… 

    Continued from previous…

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    Kwan Yin (Kuan Im) festival near Chiang Dao, with many hill-tribe participants…

    So after the funeral in Uttaradit Province, Thailand, I’d like to explore that new border crossing into Laos, but my priest has other ideas, and he’s the boss. I’m the driver. So that means another late night drive from near the Lao border all the way back to the small town of Sarapee near Chiang Mai, finally pulling in to the temple about ten p.m. dead tired and more than a little wired, from twisty windy back-country roads…

    This is all so that we can buy a new truck, to take to the Tai Yai ‘Shan’ people out on the Burmese border where we were last week. Seems they’ve graduated from blankets and dried noodles to new 4 x 4’s. Bizniz is good, I guess. So we do: drive, that is, out again past Pai, into the remote fastnesses of Mae Hong Son province, where foreigners are not usually even allowed to enter, much less drive, but membership has its privileges, I guess… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 1:44 pm on December 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, ,   

    Thailand Outback Up North, part 2: Drive He Said (Buddhism for Sale)… 

    Continued from previous…

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    Feast fit for priests at Jaw Jalern Forest Temple

    One thousand baht!”

    Amen!” the crowd roars in response to the emcee’s declaration, hooting and hollering to beat the band, whatever that means, here in Thailand, as elsewhere, taking delight in small pleasures…

    The emcee continues. “And now we have a contribution to Forest Temple Udom Tham, from Chiang Rai Prakan Chiwit, the life insurance that is there for you just when you need them most, for the sum of… Ten Thousand Baht! Ooohhh, that’s nice!”

    Amen!” the crowd answers in agreement, one group from faraway Isaan obviously cutting up and loving it, trying to outdo all the others in their silliness and sober raucousness… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 2:22 pm on November 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , Kathina, , Vassa   

    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… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 1:39 pm on October 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , , , , , , ,   

    Buddhist Boot Camps, Kopan vs. Suan Mokh, Part 2: the Cost of Karmic Retribution)… 

    img_0545Continued from previous…

    Setting: Kopan is classic Tibetan temple and monastery style, with dragons and other adornments, set on top of a hill at the edge of the sprawling metropolis of Kathmandu, and gated, so semi-urban while it lasts. Suan Mokh, on the other hand, is green and pastoral, with an ambiance that reminds me of Boy Scout camp. Noises are few and far between, and far away, as are the gilded and glitzy temples of the city.

    Eco-Friendliness is a specialty of Suan Mokh, where absolutely NOTHING is wasted, and flashlights are used at night rather than bathing the premises in artificial light. Recyclables are treated accordingly, and no drop of water is wasted if it can be saved for later use or recycled. This is part of the ethos and also just a reality of living in the countryside. Kopan is quasi-urban and subject to different conditions, so not as strictly obedient to environmental issues, apparently. (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 11:14 pm on October 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , , , , , ,   

    Buddhist Boot Camps: Kopan vs. Suan Mokh, part 1–Price of Rice… 

    IMG_0526“…(in) sitting meditation…we free our mind from past experiences and…any anticipation of the future. Instead we abide in the nowness of the present…”–HH the Dalai Lama

    Sounds a whole lot like Eckhart Tolle, doesn’t it? But no, this is from His Holiness the DL’s book ‘The Four Noble Truths’, compiled from talks he gave in 1996, some years before the publishing of ET’s break-thru book-thru drive-thru one-stop soul shop, in which a lump of basic Buddhism is twirled up into fluffy cotton-candy comfort-food for the disenchanted…

    …just lose all that pesky suffering, add some New Age flavorings, and let’s call it ‘The Power of Now’ instead of ‘Enlightenment for Dummies’. There you go, perfect, ready to market, and the rest is history—good work. But I’m not here to talk about ET, just HHDL, who largely inspired me, along with certain Beat Poets at Naropa last century hooting and howling next door, to further investigate Tibetan Buddhism, to supplement my current efforts in the forest temples of Thailand. Here’s the deal: (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 11:55 pm on October 3, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, Chaiya, , ,   

    Wat Suan Mokh: Southern Thailand’s Other (not so) Full Moon (not so) Party… 

    img_0881“The goal of Buddhism is Nirvana; meditation is temporary Nirvana”–Buddhadhasa

    Chaiya in southern Thailand is a place where Gomer and Goober would feel right at home, the one sitting on a bench at the railway station with a mostly-spent inhalant sticking out of his nose to catch the last gasp, while the other tries to manage the business end of an industrial-size pipe wrench without hurting himself. So it’s hard to believe that just down the road ten minutes is a place whose name translates as ‘Temple of the Garden of Liberation’ and attracts people from all over the world…

    And it’s just a long stone’s throw as flies the crow, in another direction, across the bay, about a hundred klicks, to another place that again could not be more different: it consisting of the three preeminent islands for backpack tourism in Thailand: Koh Tao infamous for recent tourist murders, Koh Pha Ngan infamous for its monthly full moon drunken orgies, and last but not least, Koh Samui, the one made famous by Leonardo Di Caprio in ‘The Beach’ as the starting point for the perennial search for authenticity… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 11:02 pm on September 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Buddhism, ,   

    Bhutan, part 2: Hermit Kingdom, Magic Mountain, Betel Juice… 

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    continued from previous…

    I didn’t know if I would make it, frankly, up to the Tiger’s Nest, then we beat them all in record time. Local Boy Scouts and fuster-clucking Indians only crowd the path and slow us down. Now I like temples and such, but I was already disappointed that the proposed first day’s itinerary of ‘looking around the city’ had been changed. Maybe there was no real city. Welcome to America…

    So I finally had to pointedly hint that IT’D BE REALLY NICE TO GET A LOOK AT THE CITY—the capital, Thimpu—after we’d spent a full day of avoiding it and driving circles around it, such that I’d almost decided that it didn’t really exist. But there it is, and it’s a cute one, with no traffic lights, but at least one traffic cop doing the honors at the city’s main intersection. And there’s a market, and a bus terminal, all the things of real life. I got the distinct feeling that they don’t usually show such things, for whatever reason, likely the filth and grime of a Third World city… (More …)

     
    • davekingsbury 2:20 pm on September 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting piece. One question – isn’t your status in the present life the retribution for past life sins, or have I misread it?

    • hardie karges 8:48 pm on September 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      That would seem to be a correct reading of the Tibetan Buddhist position, but I have numerous problems with that conclusion. To pose the question in the same way that shocked me: If a young girl is raped, is it her fault, from past lives, or the rapist’s?

    • Bhutan Travel Tour 7:40 pm on September 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Hi, Hardie.

      I happened upon your post quite by accident and it was an interesting read though I do have a few comments.

      The only thing we have similar to North Korea is the absence of traffic lights, or so I heard. No short Asian guy with a narcissist attitude who believes himself God and loves intimidating his neighbours with nuclear weapons here. 🙂

      Regarding guides, hey, you can go on your own. You wouldn’t really know where to go, what to see, where or what to eat, and at the high tariff that the government imposes you wouldn’t want to waste any time now, would you?

      Regarding religion, yes, most Bhutanese would be very Buddhist but on blind faith without pondering on the various ‘deep’ philosophies that the religion does have. Most Bhutanese do know what denomination they belong to- Nyingma or Drukpa Kargyug- but do not know what the difference is, for example, let alone know about what Gelug, Karmapa etc. or Vajrayana, Hinayana are about.

      Rituals may have had a reason once, now they are just done blindly. There are some who go deep into the philosophies, such as karma. On my part, I have heard lamas saying this when someone dies early young “He/she was just completing the years that in his previous life he/she could not complete.”

      One thing accepted here but would not be accepted in the western world is “a woman is 7 lifetimes inferior to a man”. “Someone born a woman must have done something not good for the karma.”

      If you do come again, we could meet and discuss these things first hand. it’d be interesting 🙂

      Best regards and Trashi Delek,
      Keshav of http://www.bhutanrebirth.com

      • hardie karges 10:21 pm on September 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        If I could travel on my own, then that would be a different story, no problem figuring out where to go, haha…

  • hardie karges 4:21 pm on August 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Buddhism, , , ,   

    Life in a Buddhist Monastery, part 2: Karma Krushes Dogma… 

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    Continued from previous…

    You can’t beat the price: less than one hundred clams USD for a week of classes, room and board, $125 if you want a private room with shared bath—yeow! Don’t spend all that extra thirty bucks in one place! Boutique Buddhism in Phuket, Thailand, this same week will set you back almost $2K, with a 5-star hotel and waves crashing in on the beach, sex optional. For that price in India you can get a day or two with the Dalai Lama himself (no sex, sorry)!

    The only problem is that they’re a little disorganized here, and a little unclear on certain points of dogma: like whether Internet use is or is not consistent with the Dharma. And at some point they decided that the course I’m taking would be a silent retreat, cue thunder for unsympathetic magic, which is not so bad on the surface, as long as it’s merely suggested and not strictly policed… (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 4:33 pm on August 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Hmmm.

    • Simon 3:55 pm on September 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      “Without free will there can be no morality”

      this is so Philosophy teacher 😀

      • hardie karges 12:01 am on September 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        and so true, otherwise we blame all our transgressions on our birth signs, or our past lives… 🙂

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