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Origins of Zen

My Scholarship entry - A local encounter that changed my life

WORLDWIDE | Monday, 23 April 2012 | Views [258] | Scholarship Entry

After the bliss of a saffron morning, on a plum night, I saw the yolk of an egg cook to a deep red between the mountains. I saw how it boiled over and spilt the horizon. I plucked a dragon fruit from under an ancestral filled sky and slurped on its sweet pulp while listening to the grasshoppers dandified symphony. Then, when I thought I couldn't breathe in any more of the world's glittering miracles, I did. I learned how to float.

As the full moon grew thick on the night of Loi Krathong, the jovial masses began to drip from the trees surrounding the Chiang Mai field. On the streets women were working the woks, flipping the rice once, twice, three times and into containers later crunched under the stampede. Men were meddling about their tuk-tuks, smoking cigarettes and selling lanterns by the dozens. With a ring of charcoal attached by wire, the paper lanterns would fill with smoke and float with grace into the sky, away with it a wish or worry.

People sat meditating in silence, shoulder to shoulder, spirit to spirit, surrounding the stage of ornately draped monks. “Envision the center of your being, burning bright like the sun or moon, a powerful light, ” the speakers echoed over the thick sea of us.

A man with small hands pulls at my arm. He motions me down, “Sit and join.” He smiled like he knew something more, and his thick brows smiled with him.

I felt a presence ride up my arms and around my neck, down my chest and over my folded legs. A spirit perhaps. The countdown ended and I opened my eyes to find myself floating on a billowing orange wave, a feeling as intangible and indescribable as the hues of sky and water. All at once, thousands of paper lanterns were released by hopeful hands in a slow and swift dash toward the castles in the sky. It was a vision of unsurpassable beauty. 

The fireworks pounded and illuminated the Thai man's tears. “Do you feel it?” he said, “How light we are?”

Tags: travel writing scholarship 2012

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