Khao Sa La, Surin – Evrim and Elif Yiğit Tour Journals, April 15, 2012

29/05/2012  //     //  Genel Duyuru ve Haberler ( Bisiklet, Triatlon, Atletizm, Yüzme )

  Nam Ken and Nam Yen, ice and water. Close your eyes and you’re all alone, you know that you’re in a forest but you don’t think, then you get lost in the dark, you begin just hearing the sound of forest, you realize the noises of various insects and feral hogs, the forest which has been surrounding you until then begins to seem different to you it orients and shapes you. There’s a glass of icy water in front of you and it leads the way for you, your thoughts and feelings follow the ice and water, then you go deeper, switch to another dimension get away from your thoughts, forget about the past and the future, you just focus on the moment, there’s no time, you feel the nature, feel yourself; Nam Ken and Nam Yen; you surrender yourself to the transformation of ice and water. An hour of meditation must involve all these. Khao Sala Hill, where we are, is one of the most special places you can meditate in the world. However if you’re doing meditation for the first time in addition to all these, I must include the prickling and numbing legs, aching joints and the boredom of keeping the same position consistently.  We come here coincidentially. People we’ve met during our trip suggests us to visit this hill. It’s 6km away from Cambodia and has a position that you can see one of the most famous views of Surin region. The view that greets you in the morning is one of the scenes that’s being used as one of the publicities of Thailand. Thus we decide to visit this hill only 3km away from the road. As we arrive at the hill, we encounter a surprising crowd and they immediately begin to speak with us. They want us to spend the night there and stay to attend the celebration for tomorrow. The spot they pointed us to stay is the best place of the temple which we’ll realize in the morning as we find out that famous scene could be seen from there.  Here has a specific importance for Surin region in Thailand. At the temple on this hill, the High Priest of Surin resides. According to what they told, there wasn’t anything on this hill. The Priest had built a temple here with his own efforts. People had been coming here to cut down trees from Cambodia and Thailand. The Priest began to protect this forest and started to wander around the forest at nights to prevent the trees from being lumbered illegally. Government who saw his efforts, let the whole forest go under the Priest’s protection and thus the whole forest became an asset of the temple. After that day, this forest and this temple has become an education center. So here’s a place that priest apprentices learn to meditate and stay before they’ll head to the temples which they’ll offer their serves and this forest is actually is non-public. Priests have to train at the different parts of the forest and stay in small rooms resembling tents in this forest which gets quite scarier at nights and these rooms are 10-15m away from each other. And every training center is 5-6km away from each other. Thus priests who are on their own in the forests at nights have to listen to the forest, be alona and have to get used to it. This loneliness is a part of their lives. Thus priests learn to be focused and meditate in this forest.  Our luck is that we coincided with the birthday of the priest who had came here on his own in the first place who trains these priests. That’s why more than 250 priests had come here to show their respects and the non-public forest opened its doors to the public just for this day. Thanks to this, we and a couple of more people get the chance to attend this meditation which’s done in the depths of the forest with priests and the story of the ice and water, Nam Ken and Nam Yen remains in my mind is a part of this meditation.  Now let’s evaluate this incredible meditation we’d participated from a different perspective. This kind of meditations have had a major importance for the ones like us. If we’re from a country that doesn’t have a culture that includes meditation like ours, or has a perspective created by the association of Europe and USA which tries to explain give divine sense to everything or a special meaning, every color we’ll see during meditating, every noise, every feeling, every emotion, everything we’ll experience will have a major significance. We’ll tell about what we’ve felt just after the meditation and seek explanations for these. Just like telling one’s fortune from the grounds remaining in a coffee cup, we’ll try to find the meanings of every shape and every color. We’ll want to believe that Buddhists here will rise above the ground just like in the movies, we will believe that meditation will make us more special and will leave the meditation moments behind with evidences proving that we’re special.   This unique meditation we’d participated was quite different than that. Besides the apprentice priests, there are many Buddhist candidates who’ll only train here during the summer and just a part of these priests and young apprentices joined the meditation. A major part of the young priest apprentices who were in the forest in the middle of the night prefered to sleep rather than participating to the meditation. During the meditation, young apprentices farted to tease and cracked up with laughter which didn’t require a much creative sense of humour, I think it made the meditation pretty funny. My major effort during the meditation was not to hear these young apprentices who were farting 20 times and laughing, and focus on the insects around the forest. However none of the priests lectured them or tried to shut them up while all these were happening, just one warned them to go to sleep towards to the end of the meditation, that’s all. After an hour of meditation as we opened our eyes and came back down to the earth, we realized that two of the young priest apprentices had fallen asleep and they must be woken up to come back down to the earth like ourselves. Since one of them was so young, it wasn’t possible to wake him up, we left him like that. What happened during this meditation may have seemed funny to you. For me, everything seems normal. Since we’ve been in Buddhist territories for 4-5 months, I feel the system of Buddhism. The major difference is that monotheistic religions depend on interdictions while Buddhism depends on regulations. Because of this, if someone does something different in Buddhism, no one will judge them or try to punish them. It’s not important for Buddhism if someone farts or not. One will obey the rules any time he/she wants and until then, they may behave as they like. As one feels himself ready to be a Buddhist priest, he can obey all rules to fulfill his duty.  In fact according to me, there’s a dangerous point in every religion; one morning you wake up, feel good and say “such a beautiful person I am, I’m such a good person”. You obey the rules of your religion. One more time you say “such a magnificent person I am”. Then you have a look at the people around you and see that they break the rules of your religion, witness their sins, pity them and realize that you feel sorry for them, shed tears and say “such a good person I am, I’m feeling sorry for them, I’m crying”. You try to lecture them, sometimes inflict minor punishments, punish them unwillingly and again you say “such a good person I am, I’m leading them to the right path” and “I’m feeling sorry even when I’m showing them their faults” and just for their own sake, this goes on until you destroy them.  If you want to be a Buddhist, the conditions are simple; there are 3 rules. I forgot the first one. Second one includes 5 rules you must obey. Third and said to be the most important one is to meditate. 5 rules that take place within the 2nd one goes like this; Don’t lie, Don’t steal, Don’t kill, Don’t consume alcohol, Monogamy. Which means it’s sufficient for the folks to obey a couple of simple rules. Priest apprentices have 10, priests have 250 rules to obey. The most interesting one of them is that priests don’t eat after 11:30am. Priests begin the day around 4:30am, go down town and gather food from the folks there. They eat all together around 09:00am and don’t eat anymore after 11:30am. They’re allowed to consume liquid beverages during the afternoon but the ones include alcohol and milk. There were a couple of people provided us this information. During the two days we’d stayed here, folks came to us and informed us about Buddhism. The last one we’ve met is a transsexual. She’s come here voluntarily, she’ll stay at the temple for 5 days and she’ll be a part of the life here. In fact Som (her name is Som, a woman’s name which means tangerine) had come to Turkey once, represented Thailand during Universiade unitversity olympics and presented a dance show as a team for an hour. But unfortunately she had experienced a couple of annoying incidents while entering in Turkey, they raised difficulties because of her sexual preferences during the passport check-ins. Hearing that my country raised difficulties to a person they had invited for the university olympics who was representing Thailand because of her sexual preference ashamed me. However with the comfort of being hosted here without question we forget what she told after a short time and continue our conversation from where we left.  There are two nice cases about Buddhism. I’ve already told about one of them; farting youngsters. Second one is Som who’ll stay here for 5 days. First beauty is that there isn’t an enforcement of decency or manner in Buddhism. For instance during such an important meditation no one gets disturbed since a couple of people joke around, dispirit or yell “show some decency!”. Second one is that Buddhism is for everyone. Transsexuals here can comfortably attend rituals, stay in the temples as long as they want and be a part of the life here. I suppose this isn’t possible in most of the  monotheistic religions. But it’s important not to forget that religion forms the country and its people. For instance if you have a different sexual preference here, you can be respected not only in temples but all around the country, if you’re a transsexual, you can work in any area you’d like and your government takes you to other countries to represent(!) your country. In some religions, being a female or a male makes a major difference according to the religious perspective. Of course this reflects to people’s daily lives. If you’re a female, you have to be more cautious; you cannot have any job, you can be killed for virtue, you feel a constant pressure on you, you cannot communicate with anyone you’d like etc. I think it’s not necessary to prolong this. Let’s conclude here.  You can gather information about this temple on the internet if you’d like. You can find its website if you search like “Wat Khao Sa La” on Google. Best wishes and regards.                                     Cambodia – April 13, 2012 Where We Stayed – April 7, 2012 Thailand – Nan & Traditional Clothes – March 29, 2012 & April 3, 2012 Laos, Pongsavan, Luang Prabang – February 26, 2012 Laos – February 18, 2012 North Thailand – January 2, 2012 Malaysia KL – December 2, 2011 Indonesia-Sumatra – November 22, 2011 Kuala Lipis, Kuala Tahan, Jerantut, Temerloh, Bentong – October 30, 2011 Taiping, İpoh, Cameron Highlands – October 24, 2011 Malaysia, Alor Star,Yan, Sungai Pethani, George Town – October 19, 2011 Hat Yai, Pdang Besar – October 19, 2011 Trang-Phattalung – October 12, 2011 Thai Mueang-Phuket-Krabi – October 9, 2011 Ranong, a Little Break – October 3, 2011 Map Amarit, Cumphon, Kra Buri, Ranong – October 2, 2011 Petchburi-Hua Hin-Prachuap Khiri Khan – September 27, 2011 Our Cycling Journey Between Kanchanaburi – Chom Bung – September 23, 2011 Bangkok and Kanchanaburi – September 22, 2011 Greetings from Thailand – September 19, 2011        

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