Saturday, June 09, 2007

Travels in Pattani - Wat Saikow & Wat Si Mahapo

After leaving Wat Changhai, I went to Wat Saikow, which was only a few kilometres away. This is the temple where Ajarn Nong was abbot for many years. Ajarn Nong & Ajarn Tim of Wat Changhai were the first 2 masters to create LP Tuad amulets, for they were Sangha brothers who became equally famous for popularizing LP Tuad's protective power. Both masters have since passed away.
The temple gate. Compared to Wat Changhai, Wat Saikow is virtually deserted save for the current abbot and a few lay helpers hanging around. I heard most of the monks left to avoid the violence in this region. So there were no soldiers to guard this temple & most of the temple buildings were closed also.
The Wihan (Vihara), closed to public.

Shrine to LP Tuad, which was opened luckily.

Inside the shrine room, which venerates LP Tuad, Ajarn Nong & Ajarn Tim.

Inside the main Sala.

The beautiful Bot, which was also closed. As there was nothing much to see, I went to see the abbot to get some amulets from him before making a move.

Next I went to Wat Si Mahapo, which was slightly further away. I had originally intended to go to Wat Sampowchey to see LP Thong, but the driver informed me that he was in Bangkok to avoid trouble as well. So I changed my mind & decided to go to Mahapo instead. This is the temple of LP Daeng, a master also famous for making LP Tuad amulets like LP Thong. But he had passed away years ago whereas LP Thong is still around. There were quite a lot of people in this temple and thus a squad of soldiers was there to protect them as well. The soldiers smiled at me while I toured around; I think they had probably had not seen tourists for a long time. Above is the temple's Bodhi Tree.

The standing statue of LP Daeng, the past abbot of Wat Si Mahapo.

The statue of LP Tuad riding on a ship & performing a miracle with his foot. This is the kind of LP Tuad image that Wat Si Mahapo is well-known for. Behind is the shrine to LP Daeng as well as the temple counter.

A Sala with a royal Buddha statue inside, known as LP Ong Dam. Thought I saw this kind of image before elsewhere.

Shrine to LP Tuad.

A banner advertising the release of LP Wan buchas. LP Wan is from Wat Sabah Yoi in Songkhla. Can't say I know who he is or what he is well-known for.

The Bot was closed.

Inside the main Sala where many students were having their lunch under instruction from the monks on how to eat with mindfulness. Guess this must be a religious camp for them.

Inside the LP Daeng shrine, where we see his seated golden statue. Behind the altar is LP Daeng's casket. The driver told me LP Daeng's body was also undecaying like LP Tong of Wat Pagor, but I can't really tell since they did not use a glass casket like in LP Tong's case. After praying to LP Daeng, I approached the temple counter at the side to obtain some souvenirs. The amulets here are quite cheap & the helpers quite friendly. A Luang Pee (Venerable Brother) at the counter even gave me & the driver free amulets! This left me a good impression of the temple. With that, we made our way back to Hadyai.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Travels in Pattani - Wat Changhai

On 21st May 2007 I travelled to Pattani province from Hadyai. As we know it is one of the hotbeds of terrorist attacks at this time. But I was determined to go pray at the temples devoted to LP Tuad, the most respected Bodhisattva monk in Thailand, despite the threat. One can feel the tension as along the way there were many road blocks & soldiers inspecting passing vehicles. My first stop was at the famous Wat Changhai, the place where LP Tuad entered Parinibbana. "Chang" means elephant & "hai" means given. That's why we see a lot of elephants at this temple. Above is the entrance & not far outside is the railway. You can read more about the legend of LP Tuad at:

Statues of an elephant & its mahout guarding the entrance. There were also many armed soldiers guarding the temple.
The temple's Wihan (Vihara).
This is the closeup view of the sacred LP Tuad golden statue inside the Wihan.
A more complete view of the statue & altar.
Other smaller statues at the side of the Wihan. Young girls are pasting gold leaf onto the statues.
Another slightly bigger LP Tuad statue in the Wihan, flanked by elephants.

This one is riding on an elephant.
Asked my driver to take this shot behind the Sala.

The altar inside the Sala. A reclining Buddha lies across it.
The Chedi-shaped shrine beside the railway.
Another golden statue of LP Tuad is venerated inside the shrine.
The main Chedi of Wat Changhai. Inside the chedi are the holy relics of LP Tuad. But it is closed to the public most of the time.
Inside the Bot. An ordination ceremony fro 6 guys was taking place at the time. When will I get my chance to ordain? Ajarn Tim, past abbot of Wat Changhai & the first master ever to make LP Tuad amulets. After getting some souvenirs from the temple counter, I proceeded to my next destination, Wat Saikow.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Why do we prostrate?

Buddhists prostrate themselves everyday before the Triple Gems, whether it is to pray, to chant sutras, before they meditate etc. What is the purpose of such practice? Is is only for showing respect to holy people & objects, to venerate or even worship them? Or is there a deeper meaning to it?

The Noble Ones taught us that it is not the outward show of veneration that matters, but the conquest of ego & pride within your own mind that is really important. We do not prostrate ourselves out of fear or to beg for favours; we do it for the wisdom that arises from the weakening of attachment to a Self.

However, some people who studied the Mahayana teachings of emptiness come to the conclusion that most of the traditional Buddhist practices, including prostration, are meaningless outward rituals & should thus be abandoned. They fail to appreciate the teachings that these practices symbolize & how they benefit the mind. This is a mistake. One would think that the enlightened ones no longer need to follow such rituals, but the truth is not like that. There is a very interesting Koan to illustrate this point.

Once a young novice saw Huang Bo prostrating in front of a Buddha statue at a monastery. So he asked the master:
"Not to cling to the Buddha, not to cling to the Dharma, not to cling to the Sangha; may I know what is the master praying to?"
"Praying to such teachings of non-clinging" was the reply.
"So why are you still prostrating?" the novice pressed.
At this, Huang Bo gave the novice one tight slap!
Reeling from the pain, the novice exclaimed, "How can you be so rough?!"
"What place is this, such that you complain about roughness & fineness?"
The novice had an awakening at that moment.

Contemplate on "what place is this" & you may see the answer for yourself. Then you will automatically bow to the Triple Gems daily without anybody telling you to!