Happy New Year!
This year I spent New Year’s Eve in Vientiane, Laos. I’m basically taking a break from Bangkok for a few weeks, so here in Vientiane I’ve been working by day and exploring the city by night. I’ve had the good fortune to befriend several Lao locals, too, making the past week here quite sweet. I have my regular haunts, my regular routines–and my regular frustrations, namely really, really poor Internet access!
On Monday evening I will be heading on to Luang Prabang, the cultural capital of Laos. Then on Jan 9 I will fly out to Siem Reap, Cambodia. This will be my third time to Siem Reap in as many years, so in some ways it will be like returning home. I’m back to Bangkok on Jan 15.
While my time in the Buddhist city of Vientiane is only lightly centered on spirituality, my larger six-month trip in Asia is almost entirely about spiritual community. Early in my trip I’m working with the Ramakrishna Vedanta Association of Thailand, and later in my trip–around April–I will be visiting Vedanta monasteries in Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and India.
I am visiting these monasteries to better know my family–and to better connect and integrate the family in my life. This is important because my world can be filled with the spiritual or it can be filled with something far less wholesome; one way or another I will be surrounded people, culture and values. So it is important to make sure that the lion’s share of my time is spent in wholesome company and with wholesome community. The more that I connect with others who have committed to living their lives in a wholesome way, the more I am likely to also direct my energies on the wholesome.
There are other reasons to visit my spiritual family, too, of course–the holy sites I will visit, the spiritual guidance I will get, the service I can render, and other reasons. But the most important might be this subtle benefit from spending time around and identifying with people who live value-centered lives.
More on this over at my Vedanta site, American Vedanta.