I found this pic on Venerable Reverend Heng Sure's blog site, Dharma Forest (see link at right). I'd like to thank Venerable Reverend Heng Sure for not only posting it, but allowing me to copy it and post it as well.
The meditator pictured is a Philipine native, a Bhikku of the Thai Forest tradition of Ajahn Chah. I just had to grab it and share it with everyone who comes to Tengu House.
I'm not entirely sure why, but in the few days since I first saw it, this has already become one of my favorite pictures. It may be the meeting of human imperfection with the absolute of nature, or maybe it's something else entirely. But everything from the Venerable's expression to the wrinkles in his robes, framed by the perfect waterfall and the smooth rocks, makes me wish I'd been there, and makes me want to know what he's thinking - or more about the foundation from which he's thinking it.
This pic reminds me of one of my trips to a different part of Thailand, some years ago. I lived in Iraq, and every few months I had to get away from the profound suffering that was all around me. I was fortunate enough to find Golden Buddha Beach, on the island of Phra Thong, in the North Andaman region, just south of Burmese waters - and it was the behavior and attitudes of the people there, primarily, that brought me to an interest in Buddhism to begin with.
In October and November of 2004, I traveled to Thailand in search of some R&R. As I was living in Iraq at the time, relaxation wasn't hard to find. Any place where insurgents weren't lobbing mortar rounds in on your position was a restful place.
Deep in the North Andaman region off the coast of Burma and Thailand, we found the island of Phrah Thong (Golden Buddha). According to island legend, pirates once stole a priceless golden Buddha image from one of the ancient temple cities of Burma, and hid it there on the island. Although, of course, the Buddha image was never found - even in the 1970's when there was extensive tin mining on the island - the island itself retains the name Golden Buddha.
One of the villages on the island was Tapa Yoi, which faces the eastern shore (which is the side of the island facing the mainland). Because of this, Tapa Yoi was spared by the tsunami that destroyed all other villages on the island about 45 days after I took these pics. The tsunami came in from the southwest, and wiped out most of the island, including where we stayed on a westward-facing beach. But the village of Tapa Yoi was not destroyed.
In thinking about some of the recent important developments in American life - Al Gore's Oscar, Anna Nicole's court drama, and the apparent coup that television has pulled off in order to now run the country - I've been spending a lot of memory time on this island, and I thought it would be cool to post a few pics from my photo archive.
Our guide, Nan, showing us around the village
A traditional Thai fishing boat under construction
This is one of my all-time favorite pictures. I just really love the way she's smiling out over her fish. Very Southeast Asian, very Thai.
The locals enjoyed teaching this mina bird bad words in Thai.
Looking toward the mainland and smaller islands
Mountains and Boats