My Mountain Top Meditation

45 minutes outside of the historical city of Chiang Mai lies another place stepped in even more history and shrouded in ancient Buddhist lore. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is a very holy place for locals while also being extremely popular with tourists. It’s a must see when visiting Chiang Mai. Just make sure to go to the street across from the North Gate so that you only have to pay 50 baht/person to get a taxi with 9 of your new closest friends.

The first chedi on this site was built way back in 1383. Supposedly a monk found a shoulder bone that was believed to be from The Buddha. This bone had magical powers: it could glow, vanish, move itself, and replicate itself. When the king found out he wanted to put it inside a special temple but on the way to the king this bone used its magic powers to replicate; it was the same shape but smaller. The king took the original relic, put it on top of a royal white elephant, and let it loose into the jungle. The elephant climbed Doi Suthep mountain, circled the top, trumpeted three times, and then laid down and died. The King took this as a sign and ordered a temple to be constructed upon the same site. In the 600+ years since this compound has continued to be built out and now includes an internationally known Vipassana mediation center. Vipassana means they teach insight meditation versus Zen meditation. The subtly in the difference is lost on me though since I’m still a neophyte.

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Absolute Truth

Today I went home to Holland to celebrate a belated Father’s Day with my Dad and family. My brother and I drove down early and went to the church that we were raised in Central Wesleyan Church. The sermon was delivered by Brad Gray and focused on John 14:2 where Jesus says “In my Father’s house are many mansions…” That was the King James translation. The NIV version says “My Father’s house has many rooms…”.

This difference in translations came from the connotation of “mansion” at the time of the translation; then a mansion merely referred to a dwelling. That discussion pushed us into what was really meant by that statement: the Hebrew “bet av” literally means the house of my father. In those days everyone lived as one large family for up to three generations and it was the father’s responsibility to take care of the family and pay any ransoms necessary to get people back. This leads into Jesus saying: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me” in John 14:6. Essentially Jesus was the eldest son in the family and was sent to pay the ransom to bring everyone back to their Father.

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