This trip is coming to a close. It is difficult to realize how much of your world has been taken up by something until it departs. I’m sure it’ll sink in once everyone leaves. I have chosen to stay on here in Thailand for an indefinite period of time following the program’s end date. My hope is to do a ten-day meditation retreat at a temple here in Chiang Mai, Wat Ram Poeng—the only hang up I have is that it’ll be hard. Really, this doesn’t mean I’m not going to do it, it only means that I’m scared.

This is it. School is over and the rest of life is relatively unstructured and up to me to decide. I have student debt of course, but I’ll figure a way to pay that off—hopefully as soon as possible. I don’t have much of a desire to participate in the rat-race shit-show that is society, so the sooner I can get out of the mess, the better. That being said, a part of me still loves it all.

I like the coffee shops, the goofing around, and, of course, I love my family and miss home. That being said, I’m young, I’ve got goals, and I’m determined to see where I can fulfill them. Ultimately, the goal is happiness—that’s everyone’s goal really. Recently I read an essay by Ajahn Geoff titled “Pushing the Limits.” Usually we like to think that all desire is bad since the second noble truth in Buddhism is literally “the cause of

suffering is desire.” Cool thing is, just like good sci-fi evil AIs, the destruction of the system lies within the system itself—meaning to say, you use desire to overcome desire.

We all want happiness. All other desires are just secondary—the cup of coffee, screaming at the cashier, going on a walk, or even just wanting to move from one spot in the room to another, it’s all just about a way to make us happy. Now, given the second examples, we have a tendency to choose strategies that really don’t lead us in the right direction. We have a really bad habit of this.

As for myself, I’m trying to find a way that’s harmless and helpful. Leaving the world a better place than the one that I found has been a goal of mine for a long time. It took a while for me to realize that making the world a better place cannot entail self-destruction, specifically in terms of the mind. Draining oneself emotionally and burning out is just a recipe for becoming a burden onto the very people one set out to help. I’ve done this.

What I’m doing now is seeking a way to build myself up, up, and up. To create a stable foundation of compassion and wisdom so as to achieve inner peace, in turn gaining the ability to help others find the same. That’s the big dream, my mission’s statement.

My next step in achieving that goal—find a teacher. Admirable friendship is absolutely key to these things—so I don’t quite have time to dilly dally around.

I’ll post once more before I sign off for good.

Thank you for reading and take care,

-Alexander Davis

First image is the bus from Chiang Rai to Mae Sai. It was about fifty degrees, all the windows were open, as were the doors. The whole trip was cold and loud. Could’ve been worse.

Second image is alms-round at Wat Ram Poeng.