Wat Tham Krabok is a fascinating place, home to scores of monks and nuns who practise an austere lifestyle, working patiently, making statues, sweeping paths, chanting and sitting for meditation three times a day. It's also the home to a narcotics detox program for people looking to leave their bad habits behind. Vice once sensationally named their rehab program as "the world's toughest".
I had the opportunity to stay on the temple grounds for a few weeks, spending time with monks and others looking to improve their lives, trying the vomit-inducing medicine which officially contains 108 herbs, created by the temple's founder, the mystic "Great Father" Yai.
There are many stories about the temple, and its founder, many of them contradictory. Luang Paw Yai was a mystic, illiterate, who gave lectures in a combination of Thai, the ancient tongue Bali, and a channelled language unknown to humans. Some say that Luang Paw Yai was ordained as a nun, others say she was a female monk. The detox program was started because a drug addict approached her two nephews and pleaded them to help, but it was also started because Luang Paw Yai predicted the problems that Thailand would have with drugs in the future.
In the Thai conception of history, there's nothing unusual about these contradictions. Unlike in the west, Thai people aren't hung up about discovering one true and factual version of the past. After all, in many cases, Buddhism is all about leaving the past alone, and focusing on what we can control - our mind, our speech, our actions.
In this episode, I interview my friend who has lived as a monk for some years in Wat Tham Krabok, talking about the reputation of the temple, the process of detoxification, the herbal medicine, the historical and religious context of its founding, and how drug addicts are actually excellent candidates to absorb the teachings of the Buddha.
Join us on another karma-cleansing episode of ... The Paradise Paradox!