Doi Sakhet Temple in Chiang Mai

Near Tao Garden in Doi Sakhet is a beautiful Buddhist temple that has the most contemporary wall paintings I have ever seen in Thailand.  A young Thai artist took 4 years to paint them and they look like an acid trip was his inspiration.

According to my friend and colleague, Dirk Al (who spent some time as a monk in Thailand), around 70% of the males in Thailand have been monks at one time or another since it is considered part of becoming a man (an initiation to some degree) and there are some families that cannot afford to care for their children. The monastery is considered to be a safe place for them.

Because of the conditioning of the culture around sexuality, men in the monastery receive the Buddhist training that enlightens them to know what to do at the moment of death. Women, well, women on the other hand are left out of the equation.  Their initiation is often prostitution.  So you have this extreme of celibacy on the one hand and prostitution on the other.  Our cultural neurosis has tacitly encouraged and supported this division which began to firmly take hold in Thailand with the American service men who went to Bangkok during the Vietnam War.

You can truly see here the global implication of the mind/body split that is prevalent throughout the world. The western cultures have exported their sexual frustrations and imbalances to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam with their sex tours and patronizing of the sex industry in these countries which has in turn, supported the sexism of the prevailing organized religion (Theravada Buddhism) here.

Monks eat only one meal a day and they must beg for it. When I am at Tao Garden, we often take an early morning excursion to visit the temple and buy food for the monks. Their chanting is a blessing given to those who feed them.

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Bomb Scare at LaGuardia

I was at LaGuardia airport this morning awaiting my flight on United Airlines to Bangkok via Chicago and Shanghai when the airport was paralyzed by an unbalanced individual who was obviously looking for some media attention claimed to have a bomb in his backpack.  As we all know by now, this was eventually proven to be a hoax although a costly one for anyone flying today.

The concourse was evacuated and passengers were herded this way and that until they figured out what to do with us. Finally, after standing around on the runway for half and hour, we were taken to the US Air terminal and told to wait until further notice.

Several hours later it was clear that it would be highly unlikely that I would make it to Chicago to connect to the second flight to Shanghai.  I called United and was put on hold for 30 minutes the first time, spoke to someone, and was again put on hold.  I was told that they were making 2 reservations for me as a backup.  Then followed a series of communications and miscommunications from robocalls.  Everyone told me something different about my flight as well as about my luggage which had already been checked through. Finally, I realized that I should just yield to the situation and wait until tomorrow to take a flight out of JFK   

Although I can understand that this was an unusual situation, the airline seemed ill equipped to deal with the amount of dysfunction something like this can cause. Airline personnel were hard to find, and if you called United, you spent most of the time on hold.  When you did finally reach a real human voice, they were confused about something as crucial as what would happen to your baggage if you took a flight from a different airport.  I was told by 2 people that my baggage would fly on the same plane with me and then when I received another robocall that mistakenly had me on a flight out of Chicago, I reached a baggage agent who said he didn’t have any idea how my baggage would arrive at my destination.

Hello???

This is the 21st century.  Shouldn’t airlines have policies in place to deal with emergencies like this one? 

On another note, this was a perfect manifestation of the Moon in Sagittarius square Saturn in Virgo which was exact at 6:44AM EDT. Not the best aspect for traveling….