Wednesday, July 11, 2018


I read this morning in a New York Times article about the soccer coach who led those twelve boys into the cave in Thailand, where they were trapped and spent ten days in total darkness underground, not knowing whether they would be found before they died.

It's an amazing story of survival. Ekkapol Chantawang, himself still a very young man at the age of 25, is a stateless member of the ethnic Shan minority and, as such, something of an outcast. According to the NYT story, his parents died when he was a young boy and he entered the Buddhist monkhood--apparently a not unusual outcome for an orphan deprived of financial support. He spent nearly a decade in the monastery, where he was given charge of looking after children younger than himself.

The experience certainly stood him in good stead when he found himself in this dire predicament. "In the cave, he taught the boys how to meditate, so they could pass the time without stress," noted a fellow monk from the temple where he trained. "That helped save their lives."

Indeed. It may have helped save his own. Had he dwelt on the guilt he must have experienced for having led his team into mortal danger, he might surely not have had the mental fortitude that was needed to see these youngsters through their ordeal. In such a circumstance, the temptation to give up all hope must be very strong. I can readily believe that Mr. Ekkapol's strength of mind, developed through years of Buddhist discipline, played an important, indeed a vital role in the boys' survival.

This extraordinary story is yet another demonstration--if such were needed--of the power of meditation. I shall always be grateful for having received the gift those many years ago, and for those who have supported me in my practice. And I am awed by Mr. Ekkapol and his team of miraculous boys.

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