Books, Bangkok, and Intensives, November 25, 2012

As we write this, we are in Bangkok, compliments of American Express. We have brought quite a few copies of books, which we are placing in bookstores here. It's good to meet old friends and to reestablish relationships.

Assajita is still managing Himalaya Residence, which is very welcoming. If you want to be in the Sukhumvit area, it is a wonderful place to stay. Certainly the food is the best. We prefer to be in Chinatown, so we are staying at Swan Hotel. It's quite convenient, the service is good, and the swimming pool is very refreshing. Of course, we will enjoy the luxury of the Hilton Millenium for two nights, compliments of HHonors.

We dropped into Himali Cha Cha, the Indian restaurant where we served monks on Ken's birthday every year in the 80s. We were warmly greeted by the owner, Cha's Cha's son, who remembered us as old customers. We had a pleasant chat with him, reminiscing bygone days, and a very delicious meal. He has scrupulously maintained the quality of the food, following his father's recipes. The restaurant is still in the original location off Charoen Krung, near Suriwong, but he has opened several branches in other parts of Bangkok, including Sukhumvit Soi 31, near Himalaya Residence. Bangkok is a big city, but the world is actually quite small. (Does that make sense?) We were surprised to find a photo, prominently displayed on the bar, of Cha Cha with three monks. It was one of the birthday celebrations, probably about 1989.

With our friends, Julie, Moon, and Moon's husband, we vsited a temple we had never seen before, Wat Raikhing. The walls of the Ordination Hall were covered with paintings depicting the life of the Buddha and a few Jatakas. The style was new, the colors bright, and the effect lovely. On the return to Bangkok, we stopped at Phra Payutto's temple. Unfortunately, he was not there, but we enjoyed the peacefulness of the compound. There is a copy of the Ashokan pillar in the garden.

Waiting at Ihala Kotte Station after our train from Colombo derailed

Back in Sri Lanka, Josh is holding down the fort while we are here. He arrived about a month ago, and has begun organizing and writing new material for Merit. With his help, we hope to complete the book in a few months. Then we will need an artist to prepare the graphics, and we can begin thinking about publication. How exciting! We have certainly enjoyed using the lessons in our monks' classes, and we expect that many other teachers in Buddhist situations will find it useful.

Just before we left, Ven. VilaSagga, one of the Burmese monks in Colombo, began organizing the Fourth Intensive English Course in Kandy. In the past we have held the course in the Buddhist Publication Society meditation hall, but that is no longer possible, so Ven. VilaSagga approached the abbot of Asgiriya Monastery, where he had stayed while in Kandy, and we have been granted the use of two rooms there. It's all arranged, and the course will be held January 10~30, 2013. Unlike courses in the past, there will be no classes on Saturday and Sunday, so it will be a bit less "intensive," but teaching hours will be the same.

As before, Lily and her team will prepare lunch for the sixty students (this year, both monks and nuns). We invite donations for the fifteen days of meals. As before, the names of the donors will be posted each day, and merit will be shared with all. Click either photo for more information about the course and how you can help with a donation.

As for teachers, Josh will be still be here, Lalitha will be back from Singapore, Deena and Matt will be coming again from the US, and at least one will be coming from Colombo. If any of you wish to join, please let us know as soon as possible, and we will arrange for you to teach. As we have stated before, the course is a teacher's dream--avid students, no discipline, teaching only your best lessons, and plenty of Dhamma for the teacher to learn. It promises to be a good course.

Other news is that both A Pilgrim's Companion and the new edition of Jataka Tales of the Buddha: An Anthology, have been published and are for sale. The latter has been retypeset and many typing mistakes from the first edition have been corrected. The covers are completely new, with Sri Lankan temple paintings. The new edition, also a boxed set, is very attractive. Click each title above to see more information about the books and about how to purchase them.

A few days ago, we received a request for conducting an intensive course in BuddhaGaya next year. We had thought that the students wouldn't be able to arrange it so quickly, but they are eager to have the course, so it seems it will take place, either in April or July. Interested? Any experienced teacher is welcome to join.


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