A Visit To The Tiger Cave Temple, Wat Tham Suea, And The Dragon Cave Temple, Wat Ban Tham, In Kanchanaburi, Thailand

A Visit To The Tiger Cave Temple, Wat Tham Suea, And The Dragon Cave Temple, Wat Ban Tham, In Kanchanaburi, Thailand

“Buddhist temples in Thailand are suffering from a loss of interest by the younger generations,” said Ton, the native Kanchanaburi man who took us on a day tour of the Wats, the impressive Buddhist temples built in the verdant mountains surrounding Kanchanaburi.

“The older generation used to revere the Temples and came often, but the younger generation is not interested, so the Wats have to be creative about how to attract people and tourists.
Some build a huge Buddha statue on the hill, others offer amazing vistas and views, all to attract visitors in order to survive.”

I could see that Ton was right in his observations, but I failed to see the potential revenues, especially since none of the Wats charge an entry fee and donations are not solicited but made only at the discretion of each visitor.

The tiger cave, Wat Tham Suea, is a gold gilded hilltop temple, with a massive Buddha statue covered in golden mosaic tiles.
There are also a few pagodas and bell shaped stupas called Chedi in Thailand.
There is also a wide cave with multiple rooms that was once used as a meditation cave.

While this is not the only Tiger cave temple in Thailand, the story tells of a Vipassana monk who sat to meditate in the cool cave.
Absorbed in observing his own mind, he was unaware that a wild tiger roamed around the mountains, and used the very same cave as its den.
A meditating monk does not emit an aggressive aura, so the tiger laid down beside him until the monk opened his eyes.

Buddhists believe that by taming your own animal-nature and becoming more gentle, loving and kind, you are becoming ONE with all of nature and free of the sufferings of humanity.
There are thousands of steps to climb in the temple, and beautiful statues which devotees cover in gold leaf as a way of donating to the temple and achieving blessings.

The nearby Dragon Temple, Wat Ban Tham, also has thousands of steps, some through the mouth of the dragon, constructed from concrete at the entrance to a beautiful cave complex that has a few rooms and caverns.
As we walked around the cavernous caves, I remembered the peace I always feel while visiting remote Buddhist meditation caves.

Perhaps it is the remoteness of these once isolated caves, that always makes me feel that these are sacred places to escape to, when one is seeking a greater perspective on life and its many turbulences.
Thailand is home to a great many Buddhist Masters, but the one who came to my mind that day, was the tibetan Patrul Rinpoche.

Patrul Rinpoche (1808–1887) was a teacher and writer from the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism.
He was born during the Earth Dragon year of 1808.
He was an enlightened master, who chose to live the life of a vagabond.
His principal teacher was Jikme Gyalwe Nyugu, a great spiritual master.

From time to time he would write a text of his own reflections and spiritual revelations, and he also collected many of his master’s teachings, which later were published in six volumes of his writings, among them “The Words of My Perfect Teacher.”

These are some reflections from the writings of Patrul Rinpoche:

“Hard to acquire,
hard to protect,
what’s the big deal about money and riches?

Hard to govern,
hard to please,
what’s the big deal about being a ruler over people?

Hard to acquire,
hard to leave,
what’s the big deal about a home?

What’s the point of learning, if it is not put into practice?

What’s the point of reflecting, if your mind gets lost in fearful imaginary scenarios?

What’s the point of meditation, if it stirs up baseless hopes and useless fears?
Seeing this, I want nothing more than to tame my own mind.

Whatever plans I make, there’s no time to achieve them.
Whatever I do, turns out to be pointless pursuits.

I do this, I practice that, it’s all self deception.
Seeing this, I can live my life until death, without having a strategy.

Enough of analytical thoughts!
See how they’ve led me astray.
Enough of talking, see how talk is another distraction.

Enough of doing things, I only get snared into more activities.
I feel like roaming around, like a stray mutt!
I feel like nestling in my den, like an old fox.

I feel like doing whatever, and making no plans.
I feel like rambling around, like a vagabond.

I don’t need a Lama or priest, as I am aware of my own mind-stream of consciousness.
I don’t need a servant, for I can look after myself.
I don’t need a mind that is buzzing with plans, since I know how to take refuge in the Truth….”

Thank you Patrul Rinpoche for your wisdom!
Our thoughts are not really ours.
Our thoughts and ideas are not and cannot define or affect who we are.
We exist in the vast sphere of Unity, one with God, one with one another, one with the cosmos, one with the never ending LIFE, eternal, ageless, unlimited….

We dream up this lifetime and then we dream other lifetimes and other incarnations, until we wake up to our true nature and powers.

From the caves of Kanchanaburi, I send you wisdom and good vibrations, through the breath of the Dragon, the teeth of the tiger.


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