31 July, 2009

Arms Away

Right now, I could use a few more arms! I jumped back into helping paint my Buddhist temple, and being fairly large...I am wiped out. I am always amazed that I can keep this up with jet lag and a brain injury. But I can see light at the end of this...and time to conjure up some new posts.

One thing I noticed while traveling is that I saw people engrossed in their IPhone and Google Maps. Sure, they might have the most direct route, but getting lost is one of the the great experiences in life. It often leads me to new favorite places that are not pre-planned. At least allowing me to live in the moment with all its smells, sights and wonders. Instead of peering at a small screen with head down, while your mom with a map says, "Are you sure that's where it is?"

29 July, 2009

Bangkok Stories

Like all Bangkok stories, this will sound familiar. Going with a friend to see another wat on my list that ended up being closed. My friend instead of getting mad or upset he asked me if I had seen Wat Kanlayanamit before. It was near the closed wat. I replied, no meanwhile touring the kutis of the monks on the way out.

I thought I had been to it before, churning the memory wheel…I had, but that was two years ago and there was a huge festival during Chinese New Year, so I only got as far as the two Chinese pagodas out front close to the river. Walking in from the back, after a stroll through narrow lanes between houses, we came first to the small wihan(see photos at bottom) that has redone beautiful murals from King Rama the III, and gilded lacquer doors.

On top of that it has great ceilings outside, too. That was a treat, until I saw the huge Buddha in the subduing mara in the main Wihan, which was a nice surprise. Built as a gift to King Rama III with this huge Buddha similar to one in Autthya. I thought it must be stone it is so large, but in fact was cast on May 18th, 1837 by Chao Phraya Nikornbodin (Toah Kalayanamit) with a donation from King Rama III. There are also nice tiled gables, and a lot has been redone. It looks like they are trying to replace the huge sandstone pavers outside soon.

There is always merit to be earned by supporting the repairs of these temples. Kalayanamit means true friend or good friend and I hope it is the beginning of a good friendship with the friend who took me there.

As a flew back on the plane one moment out of thousands came to mind. One day, I went to 7/11 to get some water and ran into a monk and he started talking to me of all the people there. We jumped into a conversation, quickly right there, once he got past my voice. He had been to US, and California and stayed in…of all places, Las Vegas.
This lead to my obvious question, “Why there?”

He replied it was where my lady friend lived who paid for his trip. She met him there in Bangkok, and paid for a trip to see the west of the states. She has since sent her son to be a novice for two weeks and has turned out to be a good son. He told me that the best we can do as wise people is help our aging parents until they die, so they die in peace.

Our parents had given up a lot to bear us and clean up after us, and this is how we have to pay them back. The merit alone will help make our own death easier. A wise thought, from a monk younger than I.

Remember you can click on any photo to enlarge.

22 July, 2009

The Rain Break in a Peaceful Afternoon

I managed to go out to see another Wat that I had on my list while my partner is busy with work and school. So, when a friend said come and I’ll meet you there, I jumped. I headed to Wat PakNam Phasi Charoen as soon as the rain stopped. Like perfect timing the sun came out as soon as I arrived. What a beautiful huge temple grounds along a Thonburi khlong. Recently redone teak pillars and ceiling in adjoining buildings. The marble or alabaster Buddha across the khlong is from Burma. Very peaceful, so much so, that I was amiss at having no time to meditate there. It does provide me with the desire to join their sangha. They also have a fair amount of nuns. Later over a late lunch my friend helped to coordinate the Pali cd I have with the book so I can learn it easier.

And just like life's unpre-dictability, in the cab the driver said, "LOOK!" And I got to see a horrible accident, and the young man covered in blood from a motorcycle wreck with no helmet and face down on the ground. It was ghastly, but more so, it was so disheartening. Because no one is helping him, and just standing around looking at him. But luckily an ambulance was racing past us to him at that moment. I did a prayer and told he driver to turn off his radio for a somber reflective ride in the rain back to BTS.

19 July, 2009

Are You In or OUT?

Editing photos and this one came back to me, just as it appeared to me at that time to shoot it. The lonely novice when everybody else is playing. He was a obviously gay novice(kateoy in thai), who was in a cleaner robe most of the time. I used to see him come check out his reflection in the glass widow of the on-site radio station, near my kuti every morning. I once told him that I am his older sister(phee saao in thai) when he brought some iced coffee one day, jokingly. It becomes obvious very quickly when you are gay, even as a young kid that you are not part of the world by societies terms. It was for me, it was for my friends, and it still happens now to kids. Straight people think if they just ignore it… it will go away.

They often assume the perception that we are treated as second class citizens is all in our heads. But there is a certain non-inclusion of us in everyday life, and TV is no help.
Now, we have made great progress, but we still have a long way to go. One of the goals of my blog is to put a face on gay relationships and gay life. That is not always about the party, yet we can have fun. It is about a movement closer to equality. We really share the same problems in life as straights, and are have much more in common than not. Who we love is not a choice, like vanilla or chocolate ice cream. And for all you hiding it, you are actually making life more difficult.

18 July, 2009

Pondering the Death of Common Courtesy

Do you ever find yourself with a friend, talking and then they start to text or call someone else? Making other plans. It would be tolerable if they excuse themselves before they do it. Or they appointment you for something like lunch, and call you at 2PM? I don’t care if there is a change of plans, but you owe the other person a simple text or phone call in advance. Unless, of course, you are in the hospital dying or something else. What about going ahead with a date, and you are too tired to give a damn about anything? Boy, that makes you feel like it was really worth it. That lets all the air out of any meeting. What happened to common courtesy? Just have the balls to say I am not up to it today, that is if you value others, otherwise this will happen to you. Life has a way of telling you this is not cool, by happening to you at another time, with someone who is far more important, to you, than me. I can take this, but have a stainless memory…and it will provide me with fuel to understand the potential for growth in a friendship. Or, not. Luckily, I won’t have to ponder next time.

16 July, 2009

A Royal Buddhist Monastery Make-Over

Wat Bowon Nivet Vihara buildings are being redone and are nearly finished. I can’t write better than this site on all the history of the buildings. So I’ll just accent it with some photos. A little bit more of historic Bangkok is saved!

Open the Doorway of Impermanence

Reflecting on our own impermanence helps us stop following the dissatisfied mind of desire whose impulses are seen as without meaning in the face of death. When we don’t face impermanence and death, our lives become busy, complicated, and stressful. When we do face them, our lives become simpler and more full of meaning. Our fear of, or aversion to facing these subjects is a trick that the mind plays on itself, which keeps us caught in the trap of self-centered, compulsive, neurotic egotism. The illusion that we exist as solid, permanent entities is in fact a trap or prison for our hearts; facing the truth about impermanence is the doorway out.
–Lorne Ladner, from The Lost Art of Compassion

Love Means....

This is more than done, so I thought I would write about this, in the hopes it will help others. Even after 8 years there are still some things we can butt heads on. Yes, love between my partner and I is firmly entrenched... but, of course, we still get wake up calls when things get a little spooky. Moods play a huge role, and with one mood from either one us we can set the world afire. One day, meeting after his school he was a bit moody and was curt with me, and I decided to take offense at it, by calling him on it. It was the wrong move, because he likes to indulge in his moods, letting them run their course until he tires of it. It has nothing to do with me or us. I have to really give up on the idea of him understanding that his moods can affect us, because it goes both ways. I know he is stubborn beyond my limits, so I just joke with him and tell him “Love means never having to say you’re ugly.” I should know by now that with his master’s and work he is just over it, and it is hard to turn off that drive when through. I applaud him for going this far. FWUMP! upside da head. Changing the world, does not apply to boyfriends. Soon enough it becomes a joke between us, if ... I just let go.
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14 July, 2009

Aligning Your Mind

I like these iron ware storefronts, as you can never fake this display. It reminds me of when I was a kid and going into my father’s garage full of iron, copper and brass rods, along with the smell. He had these pieces cut for wielding for making his sculptures. That combined with apprenticing with a blacksmith when young and dumb, until I got sick of the horse hooves smell when you trim them. Later, delivering parts to body shops while I was going to school, the wielding smell is burnt into my memory. So every time I encounter it, like someone’s cologne, it brings back floods of memories.

Distinct and also foggy until you decide which you like to align with, at that particular moment. Now, for the owner of this shop the memories contained are totally different, yet he sees the same thing I do. That is where perception comes into play. Our perceiving eye can spin two totally different meanings to anything we see depending on how we feel. That is why to one person a rainy day is depressing and to another a day to reflect and settle down. I am trying to examine my moods before I attach them to any one particular event: seeing, smelling, tasting, feeling as a method to bring more mindfulness into my life.

We really think we have control over our life and in certain instances we may, but we really, in general we don’t. From aging, to losing a family member or close friend. What we do have control over is how we think about those same things that happen in our life, good or bad. That is where perception comes into play and mindfulness for me becomes even more important.

12 July, 2009

An Artist's Job ...is to See

In the hot seat of Chusak Srikwan's ox hide dragon.

It made me recall what my house cleaner said when she heard me listening to Pali chants to practice. When she heard the precepts, she said when they get to the one about killing and the one about adultery, "I just remain silent."

Bangkok's rich(the kids in masks looking) and poor(begging at a bustop) beautifully composed by Therakiat Wangwatcharakul, but mysteriously hung hidden by a pillar. Hence the bad photo, sorry.

The erotic lazer cut stories of bonding told by Wu Jian'an. Once dreamed of, they can never leave the deep recesses of one's mind. Desires, that are sure to disappoint, that are better left in our imagination. I am assuming that why they lost their heads in this hell.

Bangkok: In One Half Hour

A fellow blogger posts a nice Ode to Chao Phraya here. Hats off to him. I put up a rainbow shot on the river here.

My partner said, "You always go to the river", so there is an attraction beyond the coolness of temperature. The water swirls with my dreams down to the sea.

10 July, 2009

A Chinatown Stroll

I would venture to say I spend 80% of my time alone, not in some “woe is me, pathetic way,” but as a confident, curious and somewhat reflective state. I can go for hours looking for good light for a photograph, and this day I ran into a guy twice who was doing the same with a old Rolli camera, and the second time he waited for me to shoot and get out of the way for his shot. We shared a common goal, and yet we never spoke. I ran into two other people that day doing different things alone, one was a writer where I stopped for a drink, and a smoker…smoking his way into non-being. Or at least trying to. The woman with her child was more than happy to let me photograph the two of them, after her small son took a photo of me with her camera phone. That was cute and funny, making for a short bond of humanity between us.

I run into people who quickly figure out I no longer the tourist, as foreign as I am and try to bridge the gap. I am friendly and try to talk to people, not shy. I sometimes offer help to other tourists when asked or when it obvious that they are lost. We are lost in one way or another. Can we take being lost as an asset to spend carefully? Where everything we encounter is new, and should be savored. It can be a temporary way to get out of our body, separating our mind. Sometimes our feelings can not be described. So much life we really don’t know what is next, and we sometimes hold tightly to what we do have, presently. The familiar. We do this in an effort to stop change or fear of the unknown. This is the clinging delusion that Buddha spoke of. Meditation will help bring some positive wisdom to your unease.

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