Most of the time I locked myself inside my room as the mercury was sharply falling outside. I never knew when did the winter vacation pass away. It just flew away like a wind, like a bird; gave me a warm hug in this winter and promised never to come back again. I watched movies like The Shawshank Redemption, Harold and Mude, Requiem For a Dream, The Killing Fields and some few more. Besides watching movies I went to visit Amaravati.
Amaravati is a Buddhist Monastery of Theravadan Thai Forest tradition. Amaravati means “Deathless Realm” in Pāli, the scriptural language of the ancient Buddhist Pali Canon. The disciples of Thai meditation master Luang Por Chah(1918-1992) founded this temple. Its current abbot is Ajahn Sumedho. Amaravati has a retreat centre, where meditation retreats are held for lay people. In addition to the monks’ and nuns’ residences, there are accommodations for long-term lay residents and shorter-term lay guests. Amaravati has a retreat centre, where meditation retreats of varying lengths are held for lay people. There is also a meditation workshop for lay people every Saturday afternoon from 2-4pm. Both the monastery and the retreat centre are run on dana.
There was a prediction made in local newspaper “Evening Standard” about the snow fall next day . Snow fall was supposed to obstruct public transportation. But I had made my mind to visit Amaravati so I went with my plan. Next day, I woke up early in the morning. As usual I had my Northface jacket, woollen cap and gloves to prevent myself from shivering cold. I checked my rucksack if I had left anything behind. I always do the final check while travelling. There were some offerings given by my brother that I had brought from back home(Nepal). It was a buddha statue , some good incense sticks and a khada. So, I had these stuffs in my rucksack, I was glad that I was going to offer it to Ajahn Shumedho. It was the wish of my brother.
The very morning I went to Victoria coach station and took a couch to Hemel Hempstead. I was the only one who was inside the couch, there were no other passengers. On the way I saw a digital board which says -5 degree centigrade. It was snowing but stopped after a while. I reached Hemel Hempstead bus station at 10:30 am. I missed the bus to Nettleden just by few minutes. From Nettleden it’s a 15 minute walk to Amaravati. The next bus was at 1:30pm. I was wondering if there was other cheaper means of transport. I asked the officials in the bus station and found there were no other means of public transport beside buses which runs at every 3hrs. I picked a map of bus route from the bus station and went to see the town centre of Hemel Hempstead. The town centre is pretty good. I was just hanging around the Town Centre then all of a sudden my mind said why won’t you have a hike to Amarawati. I checked the bus route map. I found that it’s a 15 minutes ride on a bus. So, I thought it would take about an hour on foot and decided to walk. I walked through the town centre, passed the village and lonely highways. I felt like Alexander supertramp, walking alone on the highway. Finally, I reached Amaravati with a little help from a woman in Nettleden. It took me almost 2 hrs to reach my destination.
As I was entering through the main gate, I saw a nun coming toward me. I just greeted her by joining my palms together and saying NAMASTE. I asked her name. She is known as Sister Shumedha and is a british citizen who has been practising dhamma for past 12 years. To my surprise, I found most of the monks and nuns are all white people and they are practising dhamma. She told me, Ajahn Shumedho was not in the monastery. So, I asked her to take the offerings. I gave her the statue, incense sticks and the khada. I did bandana to Buddha and sister Shumedha. She prayed for my brother, family and friends in return. Without any defilement in my mind , donated a little amount to the monastery that I earned by troubleshooting laptops. She showed me the library and the meditation hall. I meditated for half an hour inside the temple. As I opened my eye, I saw a clock on the wall ticking 2:30 pm and realised that I had a along way to go to London. By 7:00 pm I was in the centre of London, in the middle of crowd, in the rush. I am back again to same rush, hustle and bustle of life. I wish I could enter Deathless Realm and never be back again.