Going Pre-Med. ….Meditation!
Thailand is about 80% Buddhist. Although I practice I separate religion I am intrigued by the Buddhist lifestyle. My host school is a public Buddhist school and the students take some Buddhism classes throughout the week. Unfortunately, last semester I was unable to attend religion class with my host sister because we had separate schedules. This semester I decided to officially join her class- a quick word about the Thai school system, which is structured similarly to elementary school in the States. The students are put in a permanent “room” or class depending on their interests and testing scores for “mau” 4(grade 10) through “mau” 6(grade 12). They are given a schedule which I think resembles a university schedule. There are 9 potential hours for class. However, not everyday is completely filled with classes. Take for example my class, which has and average of 6 hours a day. On Wednesday we only have four hours only in the morning, but on Thursday we have 8 hours, and Monday has a free hour after lunch. That said, we don’t have continuous classes over the week although for the more important classes we will study for more days. Sometimes, the teacher doesn’t show up and the students get free time; and vice-versa if none of the students go to class, the teacher will not teach that hour. Generally, the students will be punctual and only if there is a special event like exams for university or the day before, will they opt out of school. –
This semester so far has been very busy and slightly hectic. Due to the flood, we have school on Saturday to make up for the lost time. I actually don’t mind the extra day of school, because I get to see my friends! Also due to the flood the GAT/PAT exams for universities had been postponed to mid December *note this was two months since they were originally scheduled for* when exam week came it was like a ghost town because hardly anybody in mau 6 showed up as they were all studying. Recently, I had my first official Friday classes. My class is taking Buddhism third hour, which I find very exciting even though the teacher doesn’t speak English. But I have enjoyed attempting to meditate and do the special “wai” at the end of prayers. This week I was surprised when an art teacher invited me to go along to a meditation camp in the forest for three days! She said the monks would be very happy to see a foreigner participate. I think the foreigner is very happy to be invited to participate in such a inspirational and truly cultural event.
My current feelings about the camp: It is this weekend, so soon! I have to borrow some clothing and a tent from my friends. We can only wear all white or other solid, basic, colored clothing. I’m fine with this. Eating: we are given a small breakfast in the morning and maybe a carton of milk at night. This may be a challenge for me but I know it is do-able. We have to bring our own water but are limited to one bottle a day for drinking and cleansing. Which takes me to cleansing- which I figure will be mostly spiritual. As we will be in the forest there will be no running water, also I suspect there is some significance to not showering for the duration of the camp although, of what, I am not certain. We CAN bring soap- but no face wash, perfume, or lotion. I think during the bulk of the day we sit and meditate. The teacher mentioned that in the evening we will walk in the forest. She also mentioned ghosts. Thai people are strong believers in ghosts. Now, I do not believe in ghosts. I believe that sometimes people can get feelings like something of a different nature (either uplifting, or frightening) passes through them, but the Hollywood version of folklores ecto-plasmic spirits of the dead are not something I think I will ever see in real life. The teacher said that we shouldn’t freak out at night if our tent starts blowing fiercely in the wind-it is not a ghost. But sometimes when people meditate they see faces… eerie. Actually, that’s why my oldest host sister doesn’t want to go, she is afraid she will encounter a ghost. Don’t worry, if I have any supernatural encounters I will be sure to blog about it when I return. And if I don’t have any supernatural encounters, I’ll blog anyway!
รัก น.ส. น้ำหวาน ริ้วดำรงค์ “Namwan” Heather Jackson