Suan Mokkh, roughly translated as "Garden of Liberation," is popular among both Thai locals and Western foreigners for its meditation retreats held the first ten days of every month.
What is it about Buddhism that seems to attract Westerners and even Asian Christians to predominantly Buddhist countries like Thailand? Is it the promise of a life devoid of suffering? Is it the desire to break the endless cycle of karma and retribution, to be born again and again as a human, animal, or even insect?
At the time, I had just left a very problematic job and was going to start a new one. I wanted a clean slate by going into a monastery and meditating on my life and future.
I first heard of Suan Mokkh from a colleague at a business newspaper where I worked. A serene and soft-spoken English-language editor who was into meditation, he recommended Suan Mokkh when he found out I wanted to learn more about Buddhist meditation.
He founded it on the principle of quieting the mind and focusing on one's center through quiet and natural in-and-out nasal breathing. In the process, one empties the mind of all thoughts and ends up being at one with the world.
Focus and empty - without phones and gadgets, peace is possible (Suan Mokkh - IDH).
When the station manager told me the next one might take a while, I decided to take the bus. At that time the buses passing through Hua Hin going south of Thailand were little rickety contraptions. My destination was a good seven to eight hours away, so I took one of the overnight buses that stopped twice for meal breaks, arriving in some forgotten town near Surat Thani at daybreak.
The funny thing was, the passengers had to transfer to another bus, one even more disheveled and rickety, filled with sleeping farmers, villagers, and a few chickens. When the bus dropped me off in the middle of a long stretch of highway, with only coconut trees and a little hut or two nearby, I was -- to put it mildly -- lost.
- Walk like a guru...in Pondicherry, India (Eileen Paat)