Continues from the Secret and Mystical Thai Buddhist Temple Deep in the Jungle near Hat Yai - Part 1.
The entire ceremony was starkly elemental and it should be stated very moving being akin almost to some sort Christian baptism or rebirth ritual - the cleansing energy of the water and also the other worldliness of the occasion contributed to its spiritual impact. The environment also had a cock crowing with the gentle strains of the nearby river running by and a mother rocking her baby inside a crib all lit by the soft light of the sun strained with the leaf covering made all of us stop and stare and listen and reflect.
It ought to be noted the Abbott was resolutely non-commercial in his approach not seeking donations and abnormally for most of Thailand the temple didn’t sell Buddha statues or amulets. He pointed out that the region was poor which the local people had little of their own and that it be wrong for that temple to take and consume scarce local assets before people had been fed and housed.
The temple compound also seemed to house a destitute mother and baby as well as a toothless old guy who both appeared to be happy and incredibly grateful to be cared for in such an environment. When my wife asked if the temple had a bank account where we could send donations - he stated that it did not have - simply remarking that we should return when you can and produce whatever donation you believe appropriate at that time.
His approach and attitude were amazing - especially so for Thailand where cash is frequently a problem. It got me thinking - is the Abbott a deeply spiritual man who truly has adopted his life work and teachings from the Buddha and had gone beyond attachment - attachment to creating the temple - attachment to money and possessions as well as being attached to being seen as a 'success' and by so doing he has produced a place of true spiritual presence and good feeling - faithful towards the message and path of Buddha from over 500 years ago. No Ipads or mobile phones here to distract anyone from the tranquil nature of the place.
And by doing this had created a place shunned by most Thais who see the buidling of vast and ornate temples and monks who encourage large donations to seek this end. It is not the buidling or the Buddha statues that is important but the intent and purpose of the place,
OR alternatively (as my wife suggested might be the case) - is he just damaged after 4 decades of attempting to attain his dream and today being old and with the temple only half-built is seeing his vision fleeting away?
He looked old and ill it should be stated that his face and eyes seemed far away and in appearance sad. I do not know may be the true answer - however I and my loved ones feel attracted to explore further and experience this place's compelling presence once more.
Of all of the temples that I've visited this is actually the one that seems to want to pull me back.