10 days of silence, suan mokh, Thailand
It’s impossible to explain 10 days of silence. I can’t.
This is just a few thoughts and notes.
Suan Mokh is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I miss it immensely. Already I’m longing to go back. Back to walking the sanded pathways through jungle and meditation temples. Barefoot through wet grass before sunrise. It was a lot of wet grass. The monsoon rain period went on through the whole retreat. It rained, and rained, and rained (more than in Sweden!). Everything was damp and wet. Some of the ponds and rivers overflowed and flooded the lawns. I waded my way through some of the paths. Making way for poisonous centipeds and scorpions. But the hot spring was still working, and it was amazing to walk through the rain and then soak in the hot steaming water. I had great use of my pink umbrella. Though I did miss my goretex clothes, I’m not sure they would have worked here in the moist weather.
All I can do is to recommend everyone to try this. (But maybe not during the monsoon). I will be one of the best things you’ve ever done for yourself. Imagine a place where they actually teach you how to be truly happy. Not from owning more things, passing tests at the university, making more money, getting more respect from others or having a career, but from getting to know yourself and your thoughts.
It changes everything. From the inside and out.
It’s difficult to meditate. It’s difficult to control your thoughts, as your thoughts have controlled you for many, many years. One of the monksb teaching us made the simile as to having a wild tiger in your head. When you are trying to control it, it will try everything to escape, but once you tame it and master it, you can be more powerful together. Every day he asked how our tigers was doing.
My mind had chosen to only remember the good parts. Suan Mokh used to be my mental escape of a paradise. I’d forgotten about mosquito bites, aching knees, and the complete boredom of being stuck in one place with nothing to do for 10 days. I needed a period of what-the-hell-am-I-doing-here, before settling down, before letting the wonderful peace and calm come back to me. It’s an indescribable feeling, but I’ll try to explain.
I feel light and clean, both in body and mind and heart. My senses are stronger than before. All sounds are louder, the sights are brighter, my thoughts more clear than before. My mind can concentrate completely and there are no background noise of stress anymore. Just more clear, so to say. During the meditation I had moments of absolute awareness, but with a still mind. It was amazing. Absolute bliss.
This retreat was completely different from last one. Most of the teachers were the same, to my great joy, but the teachings and talks made more sense and were more comprehensible than last time.
The group energy was different. I didn’t know anyone else who was there. Which was good. I found it amazing how 80 people can live together in silence and still you feel like you get to know them. Silence can say more than words. Before and after the retreat I met a few other lone travellers and there were many deep discussions.
Buddhism isn’t really a religion. It’s a philosophy and theory of psychology. When Buddha got enlightened all he saw was how the mind works, and how it ends up controlling you and make you unhappy. He was the first and greatest psychologist of all times. He didn’t say we were bad people that had committed any sin, had to pray to a god or anything. He just said that we were a little ignorant, that’s all. The ignorance leads to not seeing things as they really are. Just like in the movie “The matrix”, but not as harsh.
When we get a bit more mindful about what goes on in our heads and our bodies we can become more happy. Real happiness. Not the kind that comes from temporary things like holidays, a new sofa, a good book or a meal. It’s all impermanent. All the things that we egoistically cling to can be lost, that’s why they can never lead to real happiness. Real happiness can’t be bought. It’s nothing you can search for outside yourself. It comes from inside. From being nice to yourself, to others and to the nature. To live mindfully.
Now I’m back for a couple of hours in the very opposite of Suan Mokh. Phuket, the worst, most horrible part of Thailand after Bangkok. I woke by myself a few minutes before 4 a.m and waited for the big gong-gong to ring, but of course it didn’t. Then I remembered I’m back in the “real world”, with the tests trying my mindfulness.