Soul-searching, or are ours all same-same, even if different?

. Thailand, Ayuthaya

Mere 45 minute train ride from Bangkok, Ayuthaya was pure peace compared to the constant honking and jostling that seems to cover Bangkok. Compared to my bangkok hostel, my small bedroom on the second floor of a house which seemed to be owned by one male, was unsettingly quiet. It wasn’t quiet. It was still. And since Ayuthaya was pretty quiet and still itself after dark, i took the time to spend my evenings taking thorough showers and lying awake in bed, thinking about nothing in particular.

Ayuthaya, Thailand

My first pile of bricks i came across. Traipsed around the small area, poked my head into one of the few shrines and found an array of shiny statuettes and food offerings. The place seemed well- visited. Later, a pack of wild dogs trundled over. A skinny but huge black one leapt onto the ledge here, and i had to flee.

. outside wat phra si sanphet.

Fallen offering on the steps leading up to a statue of a past king

. Wat ratburana

Plucking time from the stupas. Cleaners sweeping grounds, pulling weeds. I wondered what a place can mean to a person, to a collective people.

. Wat thammikarat

They are from the past, but very much rooted in the present consciousness of the people.  Wats seemingly everywhere also made me question why i was exerting so much time and energy hunting them down. What was i shooting for? I couldnt get past the what, let alone the why. This paralleled my church-hopping in germany, but this time was pure fascination. No loneliness, no sadness. This time i felt certain there was something to be grasped. For a long while though, all i got were flat images, insect bites and sunburns many times over. And again and again, at the heart of each temple , the glorious gold would sit there, making me wonder. . All the good and evil in the world we try to explain, and then cope by externalising them in the physical acts we do, and symbols we cherish. sometimes the two get conflated, or completely divorced. Find myself continually intrigued by the hidden meanings behind concrete events, and none more mystifying more in the sacred realm of rituals and objects in religion. In ayuthaya, the many (did i mention many? about 400 in a lil town of about 90,000) shrines and statues were magnificient and sagely in their age and otherworldliness. time seemed trivial when you see an eternal belief still strong in offerings dotting the most unexpected places; you cross a road and immediately, the humdrum traffic closes behind you and you’re transported 400, sometimes 800 years ago. I touch the old bricks on the left and look to the stream of cars and people on the right, and wonder, really, what lies beneath all this. Many times ive wrestled with the link between physical reality and the morphous meanings under it all. ayuthaya occupies a another special place in my heart because it was to here i first ran screaming out of bangkok. Here, the quiet began to grow. There were (are) no answers, but to see clearly -again- was a kind of rush.

. ?

Across the threshold.

. Wat mahathat

Where the buddha’s head is embedded in twisted tree roots. It was magnificent and quiet in the background. Id marched through the rain to snap its supposed otherworldly glow at night (illuminated by lamps). But my thoughts and ambitions got worn down by the traffic, and i let myself be sucked back into present time and bustle. Id found it yet another world i could not quite reach. .

i don’t mean to offend you personally, but do you not belong to the human race that has killed over 100 million members of their own species in the twentieth century alone?

you mean guilt by association?

it is not a question of guilt. but as long as you are run by the egoic mind, you are part of the collective insanity. perhaps you haven’t looked very deeply into the human condition in its state of dominance by the egoic mind. open your eyes and see the fear, the depair, the greed, and the violence that are all-pervasive. see the heinous cruelty and suffering on an unimaginable scale that humans have inflicted and continue to inflict on each other as well as on other life forms on the planet. you dont need to condemn. just observe. that is sin. that is insanity. that is unconsciousness. above all, don’t forget to observe your own mind. seek out the root of the insanity there. the power of now. eckhart tolle

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