For a few days in August I stayed at a Buddhist temple in Chaiyaphum. I lived in a little house in the forest with just my sleeping bag, some clothes and toiletries. Everyday I would participate in three sessions of chanting; at 3am, 7am and 6pm. There were two meals a day: breakfast and lunch, prepared and delivered by people from the community. I would eat with the nuns and then be ushered to my room with boxes of soymilk, yogurt and leftovers. The rest of the day I practiced yoga and meditation, usually followed by a nap.
The temple is situated on a large piece of land where the forest filters out any noise from the surrounding neighborhoods. Small, simple houses are scattered along a paved walkway that winds through the property, providing shelter for nuns, monks and other devotees. The forest is well groomed; paths worn from thoughtful steps. Well fed cats, dogs and an attention hungry cock also inhabit the grounds.
The head nun took me under her wing, which is also home to an incredibly round dog, a few dozen cats and that nasty rooster. She provided me with sandals when mine were eaten and instructed me though their unique 14 point mediation. I taught her a few english words and pounded on her door in the middle of the night to wake her and the animals up for our 3am chanting.
I ended up staying only a few days with the intention of returning. Plans change and I wasn’t able to go back but it was a great glimpse into a simple, quieter world.