After days of travel I found myself deep in the mountains near the Thailand-Laotian border. What I witnessed there impressed me deeply. I came upon a site where rock boulders, the size of RV trailers were being gathered and stacked high into the sky…all by winch and by hand. The local Buddhist priests of this area were painstakingly carving a stories high image of Buddha…with their hands.
Today, statues of this size are usually made with cement sprayed over a wire frame, but not this one which as I watched in amazement was being built of solid rock and chiseled into form by hand. There were only 10 monks, I was to discover, that were performing this task as part of their monastic training.
It took me three days of travel to reach this remote area from Bangkok and even the journey itself was exhausting. I spent the day watching the painstaking work. I was very impressed with the fortitude and heartiness of the local people and quite amazed at the work the monks were doing. When I asked the monks when the statue would be finished, they looked at me and replied, “It will never be finished…this is our life, our shugyo”.
Report by Gaku Homma
October 29th, 2016