Saturday, August 11, 2007

Wat Pa Nanachart

On 29th July - 31st Aug I went to Wat Pa Nanachart (Ubonratchatani) to have a retreat. At first I asked myself why do I need to go to the far place like that. There are a lot of temples that are much closer (i.e. Chonburi or even in Bangkok). I think a big influence is Dhamma Talk of Ven.Jayasoro. He always mentions about Wat Pa Nanachart and Ven.Ajarn Cha. He speaks many times about hard practices there - eat one meal a day, get up very early and do a lot of temple's work. This is very different from other places I have been to meditate before. At other places, normally we get up around 4-4.30 am to chant for a while. After that we just do sitting and walking meditation for the whole day. However, What interests me is how can WPN produce a lot of good monks like V.Jayasaro, V.Sumedho, V.Khemmanando, V.Brahmavamso etc who help propagating Buddhism both in Thailand and other countries. SO I decided to go there to see how it's like.

I think I have learned something from this place. I think the purposes of hard practices i.e. to eat one meal a day or to work a lot are to let us see our 'desire' or 'craving'. At the temple, we ate at 8.30 am - but before that we have to work. I was so tired and hungry. From 7.30-8.30 I couldn't do anything cos I got no energy. Before having a meal, I felt that why 30 minutes (from 8.00-8.30 am) is so long like a year. I can see that when we need something - time passes so slowly as we need to get it. Compared with the time we don't want to do/meet something, why 30 minutes before doing that thing moves so quick. Time goes as it is always, the difference is from our cravings that want us to do/not to do stg.

Moreover, I have learned to control myself - not to follow any craving. After working and eating in the morning, it is time to have individual practice. No one controls and tells you what to do or what not to do. You have to be very disciplined. If you are lazy, you might spend your time on sleeping or talk with your friends. No one complains about that. But it means you get nothing from the temple.

The other thing is the mind response. I knew before going there that WPN was the cementry place in the past. According to Thai belief (and my belief), there must be a lot of ghosts or spirits there as their bodies were here before. I was a bit scarred but I thought that I will go to make a merit. Everything should be ok. You know? On the first night, I had to walk back and stay at my place by myself at 11 pm as my friend was sleepy and slept with other people in the kitchen. Trees there are so tall. Light is very low at night. It is like there are some shadows of people around. While i was walking back, I started to be very scarred. Then I tried to be mindful of what I was doing at that present moment - stop thinking and imagining about other things. At that time I noticed that my mind is not the same as my fear feeling. I can see that there was fear but I try not to get involve with it, not to hold it and think (or 'Proong Tang') a lot more. So the fear is only there. It cannot disturb my mind very much (just a bit). At that night I could stay at my place by myself without any disturbance even my mind.

Finally, it's about the interrelation between physical and mental sufferings. Hard work can make you feel tired and sleepy. This is physical suffering. But you mental suffering i.e. anger and unhappiness arises when you start thinking about it or when your Citta reacts to that anger in the wrong way. If we are mindful enough, we can see that physical sufferings are not the same thing as mental sufferings. The pain or the hunger is just there. Mind is not the same as the pain as long as mind doesn't follow the thought that want to leave that suffering (Tanha). And it's also not permanent. It is there for a while, then it's gone. For instance, when you are hungry, after eating - you are full. This also shows that everything happens according to their causes/factors. Therefore, Tanha or craving is not the real/permanent thing we should hold, attch or follow it. It's better to see it as the way they really are. What really happen with our body? What happen in our mind? Just see it, but not follow it.

Thanks a lot for Wat Pananachart that made me see my thought, my feeling and my craving. Then I now realize how to improve myself in the next retreat.