Here is the latest news from Thailand. I just wanted to say hello and let you know that I am safe. Temperatures continue to hover around 100 degrees daily. The Coronavirus does not like the heat, so cases in Thailand are few-about 114. The monastery has been closed to new visitors since shortly after my arrival. As far as I know I am safe. No one here is infected, nor have we been exposed.
Dhammananda says the virus brings us closer together as one people, one world. Rich or poor, we all share the same air we breathe, and all are in this together, fighting this dreadful disease.
I am here for a month, working on a second book about Dhammananda. Her Temple is unique in Thailand. It is an eco-temple and follows a 100% zero waste, recycle and reuse policy. Milk cartons, food scraps, plastic containers-all are cleaned and sorted for delivery to the recycling center. The eco-temple is an inspirational model for environmental protection and conservation.
The temple is actively involved in community outreach programs, one of which is teaching dharma to women inmates in a local prison. I don’t think there is any other program like it in Thailand. The woman sit in a circle of ten, and share their experiences. They feel much closer and safer talking with the female monks than with the male monks. (There are about 300,000 male monks in Thailand and 300 female monks.) The women love the program and many adopt the practices of meditation and chanting to help them feel better during their incarceration. Some women even have their sentences reduced as a result of participating in the program.
This morning we went out on alms round, The nuns head out with their alms bowls about dawn Although I have been on alms round many times I am always moved by the generosity of the local people, the caring way they scoop each spoonful of rice into the alms bowls and then reverently bow on their knees to receive the nuns’ blessing. There is divine reverence in this simple.
Before I sign off I just want to share that I can’t imagine what you all must be going through, but I am praying for you. Be safe, take care, slow down, and enjoy the small gifts that life has to offer. Stay healthy and take good care. I will return on March 30th.