Saturday, March 3, 2012

Assorted thoughts from someone who thinks too much...

I was honoured to have been invited this week by Mahidol University, Bangkok, to present a guest lecture to their esteemed PhD in Buddhism students.
The title of my lecture was INVOCATION and EVOCATION:  
The concept of Buddha Nature in Vajrayana Buddhism.
I received a very warm welcome from their main Professor, Dr Pathompong Bodhiprasiddhinand, who also gave me lots of helpful advice over lunch beforehand.
Although many students still cannot come to university as a result of flooding damage at their homes, the talk was still quite well attended.
There were several monks and lay people present from the Theravada and Pure Land traditions. I was mindful that the subject of Buddha Nature and Vajrayana may not be familiar or even of interest to them. 
Actually, this led to a very attentive group who were fully engaged throughout.
It also led to a very interesting and lively round of questions and answers afterwards.
I was thrilled - as you may imagine - to have caused a bit of a stir, and at such a high academic level. And, judging by their questions and observations, that is exactly what they felt had occured too.

I very much look forward to the opportunity of guest-lecturing at the other main Thai Universities and colleges in this field.

My next engagement will be to offer a one-day Dharma Talk and Workshop for the Tibetan Buddhist community at Thousand Stars Foundation, Bangkok. 
This time the topic will be THE HEART SUTRA: The Main Philosophical Teachings of The Buddha.

Myself and the gorgeous M spent a really nice holiday together on Phuket, a few weeks ago.
We stayed around Patong but rented a scooter so we could go to the lovely nearby beaches called Laem Singh and Kata Noi.
This gave us an opportunity to enjoy the sea once more together and we really loved it.

We both read our John Burdett novels - M read The Godfather of Kathmandu and I began the new one, Vulture Peak. It is a really great read so far. I strongly recommend Burdett to anyone interested in an easy read that combines the who-dunnit crime genre with Thai Buddhist teachings and the inner workings of a half-Thai-half-Western Bangkok cop.
Since we came back to BKK we have seen many movies. We buy, download, watch online and go to the plush cinemas ... altogether, we may watch 5 movies a week.

If you are interested, here is the verdict on some of them [just click on the title for a trailer]:

THE LADY 9/10 for Aung San Suu Kyi, Luc Besson lost the plot at the end

THE IRON LADY 7/10 This lady is NO COMPARISON WHATSOEVER! Streep is great as Maggie Thatcher, but should you get an Oscar for doing an impression?

When Jung met Freud. What's it all about? Dreams? Sex? The Super-natural? The power of the therapist over the patient? The power of one therapist over another? What about the patient?

ZEN 10/10 [can't find a trailer in English]... The beautifully shot story of Dogen, the Buddhist monk who brought Zen from China to Japan... wonderful movie!
THIS MUST BE THE PLACE 9/10 I can't believe i haven't noticed people talking about this incredible movie! A retired, jaded ex-rockstar, Sean Penn lives in quasi-exile in Dublin, Ireland. He looks like a wasted drag queen... awesomely understated performance. The story really takes off once he goes back home to America and has to see his estranged family, followed by a road-movie voyage of soul-searching, illuminating proportions. I just happened to notice this DVD on a stall in Silom Road and couldn't believe what i was staring at! Has anyone seen this at the movies or is it straight-to-video?

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