Traveling in Thailand

The retreat is over, traveling again. At a guest house in Nong Khai I start to talk about my travels with this guy from Georgia

When he finds out why I’m here and between gulps of beer he almost shouts, “so what’s it like to be Buddhist?”

No chance to answer before more beer arrives at the table and the conversation changes to women young Thai women

These older foreign men are on a quest one laments the loss of his young girlfriend one says to another "did you find a woman yet?”

I can’t hear his angry answer

The Georgia man, with sadness in his voice, recounts his three weeks in a Cambodian jail arrested for begging at a tourist beach The conversation gets louder: women, sex, lack of money, where to go next beer flows, cigarettes flare

I slip away to a quiet spot by the river away from that table of angry men reclaiming my island of mindfulness I smile

Stopping, no more talking

Through the bamboo leaning over the water I see a brilliant blue sky and with great clarity I see that our practice is where we are with what is, with understanding

This is it and I am one with these men Their suffering is my suffering

And with immense gratitude for the practice I walk slowly along the trail my compassion flowing like the massive Mekong a few feet away

— David Percival, True Wonderful Roots Albuquerque, New Mexico

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