On this day a year ago, above the city of Chiang Mai, I exited the monastery following an early-morning leave-taking ritual. My teacher-monk told me to take mindfulness back into the world: “No difference: monastery, outside,” he said. This silent retreat, amid golden statues and huge stupa, had filled my heart with timeless joy.
Descending the 309 steps of the 600-year old grounds, I was quickly surrounded by souvenir hawkers, cab drivers, and tourists-by-the-hundreds. I felt light as a feather: at ease, deeply happy.
My tuk tuk driver–no doubt aware of my all-white garb signifying spiritual intentions–extended an extra-wide smile and bowed with palms together. Chances are he’d do that for anyone … but at that moment I felt a kinship with him, his people, and this Buddhist land.