“It would be better for all if all [people] were Buddhists,” wrote the 17th-century monk and codebreaker, Kamat Chana, in an 18th-century translation of his works. This is the year of the birthday of the founder of Buddhistism — A. S. Senaitan — and to mark the occasion, Buddha Path, an accredited Buddhist institute, has teamed up with Funi University in Bangkok to offer a two-day workshop for non-Buddhists to study and practice meditating. For the duration of the course, attendees can indulge their intellectual curiosity without enduring practical problems of breathing techniques and meditation tools. It culminates in the meditation bowls, which are guided to you by a gentle flow of water. In between these contemplative exercises, there is a gym. As students work up a sweat, it seems that the thought of a fin de siècle monk doing push-ups and chin-ups while working on his meditation form causes more agitation than all the meditation can achieve.
“Classes and classes are over and some [of] the members are complaining that they don’t want to meditate, so we made it a class on the day,” said Fenachai Pronnaphaduan, co-founder of Buddha Path, who holds both a Masters of Philosophy in Peace Education and Divinity from Funi University and a Doctorate in Business and Social Development from Duke University. “It’s class on the day,” she said with a chuckle. She added that for them, the course is more about the culture of meditation than spiritual exercises. “We try to link the … seminar with a real-life problem that involves meditation,” she said. “So students can make connections between their lecture and what they are being taught the following day.”
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