Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Conversion to Buddhism

For two days that is. I went to do a temple stay at a Buddhist temple where people could come and learn about Buddhism and mediate.

Day 1

We first had a tour of the temple and the temple ground.

There were a lot of exchange students who came that day and the interpreter was so nervous to speak English, I ended up doing most of the interpreting.

We had dinner after the tour. We sat on the floor with our bowl and couple of people went around the room to distribute food. We had to eat every tiny morsel of food then wash the bowls with water and a piece of radish and drink the water and eat the radish. We ate/drank everything that was in our bowl.

After dinner, we had tea with the head monk of the temple for a Q & A session.

Around 9:30pm, we all went back to our room (shared by all the females there)and laid out our sleeping blankets on the floor. Lights went out at 10:30pm. The thing about communal sleeping arrangement is that someone is always bound to snore. This night was no exception. I was woken up a few times by a girl whose snoring got progressively more thunder-like as the night deepened. I was woken up again around 3 am feeling very annoyed and irritated. The calm, peaceful, chatter-less mind of the previous night, GONE! I got up and followed the sound of roaring thunder marveling at how she can sleep through the sound of her own snore. After brailling through the floor in the dark, I finally found the culprit. I really wanted to stuff toilet paper down her throat and nostrils but decided against it (after all, I was at a Buddhist temple). Instead, I gently shook her to wake her up so she would stop the damn noise. But she wouldn't wake up! So, I shook her harder, and she still wouldn't wake up. So, I slapped the side of her arm, and she stopped snoring. I crawled back to my blanket and lied down. A few seconds later, the snoring resumed. I wanted to kill myself.

Day 2

We woke up at 4:30 am to get ready for the morning chant, prayer and meditation. We did 108 prostrations to repent for our sins and offer gratitude for our blessings.

After prostrating 108 bows, we sat and meditated until the sun came up.

We had breakfast after and went for a brief hike and meditated some more.

After the dawn and morning meditation I forgot all about the snoring of the previous night and felt at peace. We had some warm tea and Snickers (yes, Snickers) on the mountain and slowly descended down to the temple. The last thing in our itinerary was making lotus blossom lanterns. I gave mine away to a sister missionary and I forgot to take a picture before I gave it to her so you'll have to just rely on my word that it was the most amazing lantern you've ever seen in your life.

The head monk delivered a final remark before we departed as I interpreted in the back of the room.

We said goodbye after 2 days of meditating, praying and friendshipping.


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