Saturday, July 22, 2006

The loneliness of people among a crowd...A Visit to Phuket in Search of Buddha within me

The visit to the Phuket – a beautiful island in Thailand was not the expected routine. I had a training to attend to which was in the most beautiful resort called Evason with lush green environment and beautiful beaches. I looked forward to my visit to a very famous Buddhist Temple but it was proving to be very difficult to move out of the resort as there were many activities and training scheduled. Any way during the visits to the city Phuket town and Patong Beach which was the most famous beach in the Island I did had some glimpses of life of the people who are kind of enmeshed in the quagmire of living, existence and fulfilling one’s karma in the most superficial way I could see. I did see hordes of tourists lounging around in the dance bars, discotheques and places where the sheer magnitude of materialism made me cringe inwards. I did not feel aversions to the girls (and in most case boys turned girls usually called Shemales) as they were trying to survive the fatalities of life that they have had but I did feel lot of sympathy for the tourists whose sheer materialism, search of happiness in the senses made them run after one type of enjoyment to the other without ever realizing that its all so transient. The mind of the people were taking them in circles of finding the right sense of joy among things that were not happiness but only a passing sense of gratification.

On one of the corner, I find a woman selling some cigarettes and lighters and I looked into her eye trying to find what she feels about all this and I found to my surprise that she was more content than the rich crowd she was trying to serve. She, I was sure, has understood the real meaning of being Sambhav (Equanimity) preached in GITA where one does not get affected by the feelings of joy or sorrow, doing work without the anticipation of fruits. I asked her to give me a small pack of chewing gum that she was carrying and I got it with a smile and a grateful eyes looking at me in thanks.

The feeling that I got in that crowd of tourists going about from one place of joy to another, was of desperation of trying to get something worthwhile and sustainable in there… and the feeling I felt each one coming out of those places, was of a disappointment writ large on their faces and an eagerness creeping in to visit the other place to find a better enjoyment. This is the vicious circle we live in … day in and day out and this what we need to get out of trying to find a better place, better thing or better experience to have each day in and day out. This is what Buddha preached and practiced and this what most of our yogi’s did all their lives living frugal existence but with happiness abounding in them with the touch of the superconscioues soul.

The next day I was able to go to the temple and find a great calm expanse of beautiful gardens and water bodies.

Wat Chalong
This is Phuket's most important Buddhist temple. The temple is revered among Thais for its healing powers. The prayer hall contains the statues of three of the temples most venerated monks: Luang Por Chaem, Luang Por Chuang and Luang Por Gluam. However, it is Luang Por Chaem who is best known and who has given Wat Chalong its fame as a place of healing. In 1876, during the reign of King Rama V, there was a rebellion by the Chinese tin miners, or “Angyee”. Luang Por Chaem (Lord Abbott Chaem), the abbott of the monastery at the time, helped to stop the rebellion and acted as a mediator in the peace.
Wat Phra Nang Sang
This is the second most important temple on Phuket. Its fame is derived from a magic statue of the Buddha (Phra Tong means “golden Buddha”). The statue is in a seated position but is only exposed up to the middle of the chest. Though claimed to be made of solid gold, the statue is more likely made of brick, cement and plaster, with a thin layer of gold leaf covering it. The legend surrounding the statues says that anyone who tries to dig up the statue will suffer terrible misfortune or death. Therefore, a cast of cement and plaster was placed over the statue to prevent further attempts to remove it and a bot (temple hall) was built to house the statue. The statue remains half buried in the middle of the hall and is subject of great reverence by local people.
I was mesmerized with the beauty of the place and calmness of the surroundings. The whole pagoda like structure with big round temple was like a beacon of light calling me over. The statue of Buddha although quite different from the one’s that I have seen in India, was still the same radiating peace and happiness… I was moved beyond my sense of joy that crept in as I did not expect this kind of place in the middle of superficiality. I was touched by a monk calling me to come over and sit with him in mediations and we mediated for almost hours together and he took me through the paces with chanting of Buddhist Mantra….

The sense of sadness left me slowly from the last nights visit to the place that made me wonder is that all that is with humanity – running about like a headless chicken. Here I did find what I was looking for – the inner calm and the peace that I have had heard about in India about the south east Asians attachment to the Buddha and the way they arrive at their mental balance in the middle of all the chaos around them. I was slowly sinking into the inner calm when the Monk asked me to join in with him in chanting the mantra that he was chanting in a beautiful sonorous voice. I felt slowly drifting into the vast sea that surrounded the entire Island and could float into the cloud along with him. The waves far down moved with the breath of our chanting and the clouds walked under our feet in tandem… the beautiful birds soared along with us in the deep blue universe and I felt the sudden chill of the evening breeze…

Om Namah Shivaya


Blogger Vami said...

Once again, I enjoyed this post. Beautiful pictures. It captured both sides of this country...the night life and the spiritual life. your opinion was valued as well.

1:30 AM  
Blogger vaibhav said...

I just stumbled here, it is a great post! I have heard of Fuket and hope I will be able to go there some time in my life. I am glad you could go! Keep posting more:)

1:47 PM  

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