On Saturday, June 17 enroute05 (Frank) wrote:
To: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [Zen] Intro

[Frank...]Hello, Bill, and thanks for the welcome.

[Frank...]I stayed at Wat Ram Poeng while in Thailand, up near Chiang
Mai...snip...

[Frank...]Before that I'd spent several months on two different trips in 
Sri Lanka, at a meditation center in the tea highlands near 
Kandy....snip...

[Frank...]I've stayed four times at Bodhi Zendo in the mountains of Tamil 
Nadu in south India...snip...

[Frank...]Also, as I mentioned in the last post, I stayed for a while 
(in '92) at Sogen-Ji Zen Monastery in Okayama, Japan....snip...

[Frank...]In 2001 I went up to Ladakh, in the western Himalayas, to find 
out what Tibetan Buddhism was about...snip...

Wow!  Thanks for chronicling your Buddhist background and the web links.
Quite impressive!  At different times in my life have fantasized about
undertaking a pilgrimage such as yours to explore the diversity in Buddhism,
but never did.  The story of my zen journey is much more mundane.

I was raised in a US Midwestern, moderate Christian environment but always
had an interest in exploring other religions.  Through reading I became
especially interested in Buddhism in general and zen in particular.  I
finally took the step of visiting an actual zen center in California and
soon became intimately involved with the training there.  I was fortunate
enough to have had the opportunity to continue my association with that
center over the period of many years under the tutelage two Japanese Roshis,
the first a Soto master and the second Renzai (also with Soto lineage).  The
Soto master emphasized shikan-taza (no-mind) and the second employed koans
(mostly from the Blue Cliff Record).  At sometime during that period I lost
my interest in Buddhism and have since focused my practice exclusively on
zen.  (I know suggesting a separation of zen and Buddhism is a controversial
view and not accepted by many on this forum.  I would be glad to discuss it
further if anyone is interested.)

[Frank...]I guess the moral to all this is that there's plenty of Dharma 
out there, and the different traditions are NEVER what thought 
they were - via prejudgment - before looking deeper and in 
fair-mindedness. Not that everyone needs to do this - but I did 
and my Zen practice was enriched by it.
 
I hope you will actively participate in this forum and share with us some of
the different Buddhist practices to which you have been exposed.

[Frank...]Where are you in Thailand, and for how long? Please say more. 

I live in the mountains near a town called Petchabun.  That's about a 5-hour
drive north and east of Bangkok.  It's just south of Phitsanoluk and a
couple hours west of Ubon Ratchathani.  I built a house there near a little
mountain village called Ahngnam and live there with my wife.  I've been in
Thailand for a little almost 4 years and in Ahngnam for a almost 2 years.

[Frank...]... and for how long?

I intend to live there for the rest of my life, so I hope that will be for a
long, long time!

[Frank...]Is there Zen practice where you are?

Yes, of course.  I am here.

But regrettably there is no zen sangha here.  That is one reason I was very
pleased to find the Yahoo! Zen Forum.  It's my e-sangha!  I'm not as
consistently active as I like to be but my home in Thailand does not have a
landline phone.  My only access to the internet from my home is GRPS over my
mobile phone.  GRPS is rather slow at the best of times, but the area where
I live does not get a good, strong signal so it's very, very s-l--o----w.
I'm in Singapore working right now so I have access to a wonderful 100 Mbps
line from my hotel room and am making the most of it.

I've tried exploring the possibility of interacting with the local Buddhist
monks at the many wats near me, but the Theravada Buddhism they practice
just doesn't interest me.  And to be frank they don't seem to knowledgeable
about what they're doing, or at least can't explain it to me.  I've also
checked out the various Vipassana centers around Thailand, but they seem too
commercially-oriented, almost franchise like.  A good clue is virtually all
of them conduct their programs only in English.  It's obviously not an
operation aimed at the local population.  I think they're just meditation
centers set up in an exotic location (Thailand?) to make them more
attractive to prospective English-speaking customers.  Maybe I'm being too
cynical?

If you or anyone else on the forum knows of any zen sanghas in Thailand
please let me know.  I've searched the web but have found none.

All for now...Bill!




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