Saturday, 16 March 2013

Nandaka Vihara after dark

I had a unique experience at the Nandaka Vihara last evening. 

This Buddhist meditation centre is located at the foothills of the Bukit Mertajam hill at Ceruk Tokun. Just before the entrance into the forest park, there is a narrow road that branches off on the right. It goes past a small Chinese temple and about 200 metres further in, the Nandaka Vihara looms ahead. I've gone there often enough during the daytime and enjoyed myself tremendously walking around the vast premises. Very close to nature, and one doesn't have to worry about wild monkeys.  There doesn't seem to be any. The only wild animal that I've come across are the water monitors.

But never have I spent time there at night and I know that on Friday evenings, the Nandaka Vihara organises an hour of meditation and another hour of Buddhist teachings to visitors. My wife is the only one in the family who goes to the Nandaka Vihara quite regularly on Fridays.

Several days ago, we were talking about this place again. Come, lah, she urged me, if you can't meditate, just go there to enjoy the sounds of nature. Somehow, for once, her persuasion clicked. I agreed to follow her there yesterday.

So at slightly past eight o'clock, we set off from home and arrived at the meditation centre in the dark. There were people there already. She hurried into the main hall to join the others while I tread quietly to the back of the hall and pulled up a chair to sit facing the statue of a serene Buddha. I find it difficult to sit cross-legged on the floor.

As my intention wasn't to meditate but to enjoy the silence and nature around me, I quickly closed my eyes and got myself comfortable. True enough, within minutes I had immersed myself into the surroundings. All around me, I could hear the gushing of water and the chirping of insects. The more I concentrated, the more I could discern the various types of rhythmic sounds coming at me from all directions, some loud and some quite soft, but all at their own rhythm and pace.

Once when I opened my eyes in the dark, I even saw flashes of light in the distance. Initially I thought that my eyes were playing tricks on me but eventually I came to realise that there was a firefly flitting around the hall. At another time, I saw the flickering light moved down one side of the hall and turned towards my direction. The light came nearer and went over the top of my head as the firefly disappeared quietly down the passageway.

The Nandaka Vihara is set for expansion. In the future, there will be more buildings erected on the vast tracts of land to house the male and female devotees who come to attend the various Buddhist functions. Will these developments eventually chase away the insects that presently make their homes here? I hope not. But I never can tell. Therefore, if I still want to enjoy listening to nature, I had better do so now, while the insects are still around.

Hope you will join me there soon.

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