The Big Buddha, the ultimate experience


With new crew and a few days to kill, it was hop on the scooters and head up the hill to the Big Buddha. I had been there three times already but was eager to go again. I connect to this place on a deep level. Marina and I on one scooter and Amy on another we traversed the windy rode up the hill. I and invited a Thai friend to come along but we missed connections, something I would regret and remedy later.

The girls were very impressed as is everyone with the mass size of the statue along with the spiritually empowering experience. Again we received blessings from the Monks and the string wristband that is given. I continue my “Brian does Phuket” tour with them by going to the beach and eating in my favorite sea food restaurant finishing with a trip to the light house and another temple.

That night I saw my Thai friend who had inspired the pilgrimage in the first place, she was so sorry we had missed her. Kitty (a miss pronunciation of a Thai name) had just moved from NE Thailand and had not seen the Big Buddha yet. As great as it is to see, experiencing the Temple with a Thai person and a devote Buddhist is another level of emersion that I wanted. So plans were made for another trip up the hill early the next day.

We jumped on the scooter at 0830 and got there before anyone else was there. The intensity of being in this place virtually alone and with a girl who was moved to her core by her devotion was a unique and treasured experience. She tried the “wishing bell” a huge copper gong that you rub and make a wish, if the gong sings your wish will come true. Kitty tried several times with no song, real disappointment was written all over her face.

We waited until ten when the Monks arrive and then we became part of a ritual that I will remember forever. Ten Monks sat on the stage and did Buddhist chants for about an hour. The sound of the chants was spell binding. I tried to sit like a Thai on my feet but oh the old bones could only take so much. One of the Monks saw my anguish and told me to get more comfortable with a chuckle.

After the chanting we gave the Monks gifts, Kitty had bought a huge gift basket of very practical things as had many in the audience. The gifts were given to the Monks with a show of love that brought a shiver to my spine. Next we were sent to a large table and given rice bowls and spoons. We divided our rice into seven bowls for the Monks who then ate the rice, we served them breakfast!

On our way out Kitty tried the gong one more time, she rubbed it with hope in her eyes. I was sorry she had not gotten it to sing and then I heard the song begin. Soon the gong was howling in the jungle wind and a huge smile came over her. She was truly elated and full of joy. This made a great final trip to the Big Buddha, I left elated and serene at the same time.

The more I read and the more I learn and experience the more Buddhism speaks to me. Is it possible that I have been a Buddhist all along and did not know it? This is a belief system based on personal joy and happiness and not an auditing of others. This is a religion where today is real, tomorrow a mystery and yesterday a tale. Kindness and love are the working words not judgment and fear. It is no wonder Thai people are so happy, they live in the “land of Smiles” under the biggest smile of them all.