The Old and The New

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Traveling abroad opens one to a field of new experiences. For better or for worse, this stimulates the mind and heart to begin formulating new conceptions of the world and developing a new stream of conditioning. There’s the self that comes to a country, that freshly remembers the mannerisms of home, and then there is the self in the country–this individual is sometimes excited, sometimes reverent, and at times fed up and exhausted. I’ve experienced this full range of mindstates and more–that being said, it remains that I am studying Buddhism, studying meditation, and that allows for a developed sense of mindfulness. Developing this faculty allows that when those mindstates arise, I can better handle it–I’m getting off topic. This is about the new and the old.

Pictured below is the Chedi at Wat Chedi Luang. This Chedi is a receptacle for relics of the Buddha–it’s history is old, hundreds of years old, and it radiates an energy unlike anything I’ve experienced in America. Within the same compound is The City’s Pillar, placed by Indra. Indra, the king of the devas (angels), is a deity from the ancient Brahmanical tradition in India. The story goes that an ascetic found the spot and asked the god’s for protection. Fulfilling the achieved spiritual practicioner’s wish, Indra descended to the Earth and placed a pillar–a consecrated symbol of the city’s founding and its divine protectors. Next to the temple containing the pillar is a centuries old Gum Tree. They say if the tree falls, so does the city.

These reverent relics of the city’s heritage stand to me as markers of the value of the aged. A connection may be made with the past that makes one’s roots feel deeper, cultivated from the fruits of long ago. The same may be said for all of us. Wat Chedi Luang stands at the center of the city, and going out from it is a series of streets and a moat that supposedly form a mandala–we are the same in that each of us stands in the center of a mandala of influence. From an unfathomably long lineage of conditioning we come and infinitely onward will our influence spread. Each action matters, each day, each moment. There is what is old, what is new, and what one does with the fruits of each that shapes the reality we live. What we say impacts the minds which hear it. What we do makes marks on the hearts of those who feel it. Every thought creates the world we live in.

At the moment, I’m in the center slump of the trip. People are irritable, the schedule seems oppressive, and I’m sick. It’d be remarkably easy to lean into this. Complaining is attractive, people love it. Part of me thinks it’ll solve the problem, another just wants the subpar satisfaction of indulging in the feeling of irritation– it’s a waste of my time. What’s better is to see the new opportunities in this situation, the bounty of being in Thailand. On top of this is the chance to learn the history and lessons of old–the wisdom of a man who taught nearly 2600 years ago.

Thank you for reading, and please take care.