We were fortunate to have Buddhist teacher Pandit Bhikkhu come to Hope Rehab for a two-day visit over the weekend (19th and 20th of March). He had some fascinating things to say to us, and he managed to cover a number of topics including; dealing with desire, transforming our lives through a subtle shift in the mind, and the usefulness of stories.
Pandit Bhikkhu is originally from England but has lived in Thailand for almost two decades as a Buddhist monk. His website Little Bangkok Sangha has become a key resource for foreigners in Thailand looking to learn more about Buddhism. Pandit Bhikkhu seems to be constantly organizing courses or retreats here in Thailand, or arranging for big-names in the Buddhist world to come and give talks here, and he also regularly asked to give lectures in other parts of the world.
For many of the clients attending the weekend sessions at Hope Rehab, it was their first time getting up close to an orange-robbed monk. At least some would have been expecting some type of ‘man from the mountain’ character who spoke in riddles while beaming his beatific smile. Pandit Bhikkhu isn’t like that. He openly admits to having rage-issues with taxi drivers, and is as happy speaking about psychology, Carl Sagan, and wind turbines, as he is about Buddhism.
A New Spin on Rumpelstiltskin
One of the most interesting parts of Pandit Bhikkhu’s talk was when he used the Rumpelstiltskin fairy story to demonstrate the causes, consequences, and path to overcoming desire. It would be unfair to reveal too much of what he said here, but if you ever get a chance to meet this monk, ask him to tell you about his interpretation of Rumpelstiltskin story. This topic was a real eye-opener for me, especially when he unpacked the clever use of symbols in these tales, and I will never look at a fairy story in the same way again. He also offered me some personal advice on public speaking which couldn’t have come at a better time in my life.
Meditation Advice from Pandit Bhikkhu
Pandit Bhikkhu also led us through a couple of meditations and offered some advice on how to get the most from this practice. He has studied a number of meditation traditions including Vipassana Mahasi, Thai Forest Tradition, and Tibetan practices, so his expertise is impressive. There was a wonderful stillness in the room during his meditation sessions despite the fact that some clients were still dealing with early withdrawal symptoms.
It was wonderful having Pandit Bhikkhu at Hope, and we would love to have him back in the future. We also plan to attract other guest meditation experts who can come and speak as well as offer advice.