Archive for August, 2012

S-21

Posted: August 20, 2012 in Photography

Security Prison 21

Note to self: The United States of America’s arch-enemy, The People’s Army of Vietnam, drove theKhmer Rouge from power on the 7th of January 1979, liberating the people of Cambodia from genocide. Led by the USA and China, the west and most Asian nations subsequently recognised Democratic Kampuchea (Pol Pot & the Khmer Rouge) as the legitimate representatives of Cambodia at the United Nations. Ronald Reagan supported the Khmer Rouge from their bases in Thailand.

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Phnom Penh – 2 photos

Posted: August 18, 2012 in Photography

Henry David Thoreau – “Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.”

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A Khmer Ozymandias

Posted: August 16, 2012 in Mindfulness, Photography

Ozymandias

by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

“One day at a time–this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful it will be worth remembering.” Buddha

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One of the four libraries

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Sand or jungle the outcome is the same

Children of Angkor

Posted: August 14, 2012 in Photography

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3 Gifts

Posted: August 11, 2012 in Mindfulness
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I have received three gifts on my trip so far:
1. Which happiness do you want? – Daisy
2. The Snow Leopard – Davide
3. A Somdej Wat RaKang Amulet – Yul

3 weeks to prepare, 3 gifts, 3 weeks to kill the dragon.

“Do not be Amazed by the True Dragon” Dogen Zenji (1227)

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The Middle Path

Meditation Retreat part 1

Posted: August 2, 2012 in Mindfulness
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I thought that it would be easy to write about a week-long meditation retreat, well it’s not. Almost one week later and I am struggling.

It’s difficult not because it was insignificant, but rather because it is so personal, coming up with something to say that can be meaningful to readers has been posing me a challenge. So I’ll write a short summary here of what it ‘was’ and then I’ll try and give some impressions through my thoughts on things I did in subsequent posts.

A week in silence and meditation, is first and foremost time with yourself. The silence removes distractions from human interaction (gossip, small talk, debates) and digital connections (phone, iPad, camera, music) as well as books and one should also refrain from self-distractions such as writing a diary. All of these things are opportunities to escape the objective of the retreat which can be summarised as : concentration & contemplation.

During some of the talks, I observed mind mind wondering if my iPhone was on ‘silent’. My phone was in a safe somewhere, turned off, and had been for days…

The retreat also serves to remove daily worries such as food and shelter, everything is provided. A schedule of meditations is also provided so that there is nothing left to do but practice concentration, observe your mind, practice mindfulness, and contemplate.

I would say that a week is about the minimum necessary for novices. It takes time to calm the incessant chatter of the ‘monkey mind‘. It takes time to be fully present, to observe and then really spend some time with yourself, understanding one’s attachments, cravings, suffering.

Key benefit #1: I observe my mind, it’s not me, it’s just a part of me that likes to play games. I have started to label these games and it is easier to recognise them for what they are.

Key benefit #2: easy to distinguish between needs and wants, all we really need is food, shelter, and health to survive.

Key benefit #3: alcohol, cigarette, junk food, meat, gossip and other addiction detox. But they do have instant coffee 🙂

A few people have told me that a week of silence and meditation would drive them crazy or that they do not have the time to invest. I look at it like this: is not a week with yourself to better understand who you really are, not a wise and small investment of time? The monetary cost is according to your means (a donation to the foundation at the end).

Side benefits: the food is good, Dipabhavan is in the nicest place I could see on Kho Samui (I did not visit any resorts…), there is probably nothing more authentically Thai around.

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Meditation Hall